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Ting vs. Sprint: data roaming

(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?

Mark Bausch

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54 answers

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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.

Ken Schafer
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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?

Ken Kinder
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I wouldn't mind the ability to enable a second data category for roaming, billed by 10MB increments.

Samuel A
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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.

Ken Kinder
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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.

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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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. :)

Ken Kinder
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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.  :-)

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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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!

Aaron Carter
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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.  

Ken Olson
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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.

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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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.

Zarthan South
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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.

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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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. 

Michael Wespetal
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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

David Peart
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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.

Philip Newman
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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.

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

Philip Newman
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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. 

Michael Wespetal
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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?

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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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. 

Philip Newman
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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?

Linton Rentfro
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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?

Linton Rentfro
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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.

Rob Lake
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A friend of ours has a child starting college in Boulder, CO next fall, and was looking at cell coverage in the area.  Of course, I suggested Ting, and they've looked at Ting along with other options.

They came back to me with a comparison of the data coverage of Ting and Republic.  What they saw was some data roaming on Republic, and of course no data roaming on Ting.  I just found this odd since in most places the coverage is the same, since both are on Sprint's network, and I didn't think Republic did data roaming either.  The area where it showed up was in Kansas, west of Wichita (not anyplace where I spend any time), which seems to be a voice roaming area for both carriers, and I know that Ting really doesn't do data roaming.

In the past, I know there had been some issues with the coverage map, but I just wanted to ask and see if anything had changed on this topic with Ting.

Iris Ailin-Pyzik
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Unfortunately nothing has changed for data roaming on Ting. I've started to move lines to other carriers as Sprint will never improve coverage in the area I'm in.

Michael Wespetal
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I just posted more details in another thread on this subject so will save the words here.........but I will just throw in a post here as well again to voice my support for some minimal optional data roaming. I agree with everything the previous posters have said. The option for a minimal amount of data roaming even at a high price per mb would be nice when needed even if it were slower data. As long as it was dependable and configurable amongst phones in your account. 

Mike Gionfriddo
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Philosophically I agree that there should be some sort of Optional Data Roaming. Practically, in my experience with both AT&T, Verizon, and US Cellular their data roaming ranged from extremely slow to non functional. Never did data roaming work as you would expect on any of them. Voice roaming worked fine with all 3. Perhaps Ting also realizes that data roaming may not offer a desirable experience to their customers.

Alexander Kaltsas
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If you requre data roaming, then Ting is not your best choice. For 98% of cell phone users though, Ting will save them money.

Bruce Osborne