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Ting vs. Sprint: data roaming

Mark Bausch
posted this on September 02, 2012 09:38

(Some of this is a repost from another thread.)

We are a more-than-ten-years Sprint family...and as near as I can tell, Ting will serve our needs.

Here is what I think I know, as far as what the important service-related differences between Sprint and Ting boil down to: DATA ROAMING.

If I believe what I'm reading here, Ting voice and text and data use the Sprint network (more on that in a minute) and while Ting voice and text roam the same as if you're a Sprint customer (i.e. roaming is free)...Ting does not allow data roaming of any kind.

In other words, as far as data are concerned...you'd better be near a Sprint tower...because, as I wrote above, as a Ting customer,  no data roaming is allowed. Is this correct?

But is this no-data-roaming a deal-breaker?

We just returned from a week in central FL (Disney) and east central FL (Cocoa Beach).

My oh my was the Sprint (data) service bad--and our three devices, which work very well at home--struggled to do anything as far as data was concerned. Roaming? I'm not sure what was going on except that the data was crap.

...all of which gets me thinking--there is a spot about a half-hour north of our home where the Sprint coverage hands us off to what I believe are Verizon towers. While voice works fine when roaming, the data roaming, through the Verizon tower, just doesn't work very well.

So how well does data-roaming work for current Sprint customers? Is our experience the norm? Because if it is, then what do we lose by going to Ting?

Make sense? We have had similar experiences recently in the Chicago area (which, again, if I believe what I read...is due to Sprint's conversion to LTE)...simply awful data...and useless data via roaming.

So I want to be sure--exactly how does Ting handle data roaming?

 

Comments

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Ken Schafer
Ting

Hi Mark,

You've got it right.

Within the US our default network is Sprint. When Sprint isn't available we'll fallback (roam) to other networks for Voice and Text. We do not fallback to other networks for data. It is cost prohibitive to do so at the rates we charge and we're not interested in adding surcharges for data roaming within the country.

For most people this won't be an issue but if you generally spend time in an area that you know does not have Sprint data coverage and you don't have wifi options available, then Ting might not be right for you.

September 02, 2012 14:12
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

It might be worth letting us pay the higher metered rate for data roaming if we so choose. Can it be enabled/disabled on a per-device basis?

September 03, 2012 19:13
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Samuel A
Ting Army
I wouldn't mind the ability to enable a second data category for roaming, billed by 10MB increments.
September 05, 2012 17:05
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

Yeah. I could accept that data roaming is ridiculously expensive, but it would be nice to have the option. I mean we have the option to pay a ridiculous amount of money for international data roaming, so why not domestic data roaming? Make it a feature you have to explicitly enable. I would likely disable background data on roaming, but if I'm out in the middle of nowhere and I need to pull up a map for directions, it might be worth it to just pay for the data roaming.

September 05, 2012 23:08
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

I feel the same way about data roaming - make it an option.  However, for maps, I'd advise using CoPilot Live.  I'm using CoPilot Live Standard, which is free, but when you're using it with GPS, you aren't using data.  There are other flavors of it on Google Play as well, for varying prices.  The other advantage is that where any data connection is iffy, the app still works.  It's more like true GPS devices in that mode, minus things like live traffic.  You want to make sure you do the map downloads onto your SD card with wifi because of the size of the files.

September 06, 2012 09:30
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Ken Kinder
Ting Army

Thanks for the recommendation, Iris. In the past I've been kind of protective of SD space, since I store a lot of music on it, but my new Galaxy SIII will support a 64gb card, so that will give me some breathing room even with all my favorite music. :)

September 06, 2012 11:35
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

While I do feel that CoPilot is a great idea for your phone, and it is living on mine, if your primary use is in a car and you want live traffic data, a better (or companion) choice might be an inexpensive GPS device with lifetime map updates.  I'd never owned a GPS and was treated to a rant from a co-worker about the cost of upgrading the maps in the one built into her car.  I was then convinced I didn't want one that was built in, but came across a deal on a smaller, cheaper Garmin system with lifetime map updates included.  Ours lives in the console in our larger vehicle.

It works fine, but updating the maps is a PITA - take it into the house, plug it into the PC, get it all set up right, and it takes quite a while for it to complete.  I only do this before major trips, and don't use it locally - if I need a map then, I'll use my phone.  CoPilot Standard updates via Google Play, and is a breeze to update, though it takes a little while because of the size of the map files, but nowhere near as long as the Garmin.  Google Maps (or carrier navigation) is probably the most current, but of course uses data and therefor requires a cell signal.  Even with full network coverage (as you might have from a major carrier contract plan) a cell signal just doesn't reach everywhere, contrary to what VZW would have you believe.  :-)

September 07, 2012 08:00
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Aaron Carter

Data roaming - or lack thereof - is also my greatest complaint about Ting. I understand the cost would be prohibitively expensive for most, but not having the option is even worse. My data usage tends to be quite low to begin with, so I would be willing to pay ** a lot ** more for roaming data than what Ting charges for data on the Sprint network, if it were available.

Ting, PLEASE consider adding the option. For everything else, Ting rocks!

September 07, 2012 21:53
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Ken Olson

People please.  Just sign up for a MIFI hotspot from someone, probably Verizon, and you'll have your data connection where ever you want it.  

September 08, 2012 18:59
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army
I don't want a hotspot with a contract, I don't need that. If I needed that kind of coverage, I probably would not be considering Ting. I want the option of it for an occasional vacation trip or excursion outside my normal stomping grounds. Even without a contract, I'd have to pay the full fee for a months use where it would only be a couple of days. And I'd have to know ahead of time to activate a monthly service.
September 08, 2012 23:32
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Zarthan South
Ting Army

T-Mobile has a no contract MIFI where you can add a weekly or monthly pass. A weekly pass is $15 for 300MB a Monthly pass for 1.5GB is $25. No monthly commitment.

September 11, 2012 11:58
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

If the issue is coverage, well so does Verizon, but I'm not looking for anything that serious, or that requires that much planning ahead, or requires carrying yet another device.  I just want to be able to make a decision when necessary that I'll pay for the off-network usage.

If my Airave question gets an answer that says I have to be in striking distance of a native Sprint tower, it won't matter anyway, since we'll not be able to make the switch to Ting.

September 11, 2012 12:10
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Amzie Jordan

Last Updated: Nov 02, 2012

Know what coverage to expect with older single-band phones [URL="http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Know_what_coverage_to_exp... plans that don't include roaming [/U][/URL

 

URL:  http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Know_what_coverage_to_exp...

January 14, 2013 22:35
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Michael Wespetal

I'm another customer that would be willing to pay for data roaming, or it would be even better if it could be billed at a multiplied rate of normal data. I'm usually on sprint towers, but that's not always the case in rural areas. 

March 19, 2013 17:19
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David Peart

I found that when I was on Sprint data roaming was a "nice idea", but in practice if I ever roamed the data just didn't work.  I would be standing next to my brother who is on Verizon and he was getting the fastest speeds you can imagine and my Sprint data roaming was so pitifully slow it was unusable.  So I don't miss it.  Just my $0.02

March 19, 2013 18:30
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Philip Newman

no data for me in eastern Maine this summer. not sure what I am going to do. On Sprint, I had 300MB of 1X data per month.

March 22, 2013 21:38
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Bruce Osborne
Ting Army

Philip,

If you *must* have data there, perhaps Ting's service offerings are not the best choice for you. Ting has estimated that roaming data is about 10 times the cost of non-roaming data.

I doubt that Ting will alter their data policy any time soon Ting is already scrambling to staff support to meet their growing customer base.

March 23, 2013 09:47
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Philip Newman

I can get one month prepaid with US Cellular in Eastern Maine. that should solve the problem. it's just a two week vacation.

March 23, 2013 09:53
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Michael Wespetal

It's hard to go to something else when the plan fits my family's needs so well and the customer service is excellent. However, event at 10 times the cost I would be willing to pay the added cost for the times I need it. I hope it is considered in the future, especially since Ting offers international data roaming. 

March 23, 2013 09:53
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Iris Ailin-Pyzik
Ting Army

Philip - I know there are a lot of carriers' coverage maps that are white (no coverage) in parts of Maine.  I'll presume you've been there before and know that US Cellular has coverage where you want it.  I can see that US Cellular has coverage in some parts where Verizon and Sprint do not.  But what device will you be using?

March 23, 2013 10:02
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Philip Newman

Iris: I need to call US Cellular to determine what my options are for a prepaid data tethering device. With the money I save with Ting, I can easily justify prepaid data on US Cellular when I want it. This is NOT a reason to leave TING. 

March 23, 2013 21:05
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Linton Rentfro

A friend and I were on a road trip across Arkansas for a long stretch of the trip, his Ting Samsung Galaxy Nexus had data and mine didn't.  I restarted mine a few times and tried toggling every data related setting but nothing worked.  His phone had a data connection for about an hour and mine didn't.  What could have caused that and is there any way to avoid it in the future?

March 25, 2013 22:57
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Zarthan South
Ting Army

Travel with a different friend. ;-)

March 26, 2013 00:19
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Linton Rentfro

Zarthan, I might not have explained what happened very well.  The friend and I both had identical phones and both are on Ting.  I was just confused as to why his data connection was working while mine didn't, especially over such a long distance traveled.  Any idea why his had data and mine didn't or was it just a weird fluke?

March 26, 2013 15:18
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Rob Lake
Ting

The most likely explanation Linton has to do with settings on either your phones or on your accounts, and for data to work, you want to make sure it's enabled in both places.

If it was and you're still having trouble, toggling on and off features will reset the connection and fix problems like this.

Based on what you're saying, these are the best general kinds of thoughts I've got for you.

You could also give us a call while if you find yourself in the same situation in future. There might be something else that we could do, but it'd definitely help if you were having the trouble at the point so we could test everything out.

March 26, 2013 16:31