can receive calls but cannot make calls in roaming area, SMS works fine

For the past 2 weeks we can receive some calls but when we dial out we get "call ended" before it rings.  SMS texting works perfectly fine.  The customer service reps here at Ting are so courteous and that is appreciated.  We have 3 lines on GSM.

While trying to troubleshoot the problem we first thought it was a tower issue here.  Later we went into native T-mobile areas the phones work like normal.  When back to our normal roaming area the problem persisted.  We traveled to about 45 miles or so away, still in a roaming area (via the same roaming partner) and the problem was the same, thus eliminating the local tower having issues.  Now, maybe it's a roaming partner issue.

I looked up via an app who I am roaming on where I am having this problem which is Viaero.  I'm being told by the Ting reps it's a roaming partner issue and they have NO WAY to check on a roaming partner.

I decided to call the local Viaero office yesterday and they looked into it for me and it took them a couple of hours before they got back to me. They have no problems in our area with towers nor do they limit anyone roaming.  They said the only thing that they typically see when a roaming person can't make calls but can receive calls are their carrier not wanting to pay for roaming charges so they (meaning Ting) has turned off our roaming calling.  The Viaero rep told me this happens frequently when you live in a roaming area, not someone who wanders in and out of roaming areas. The Viaero rep told me they love it when we roam there because they get paid for it so it's in their best interest that it works for us 

I'm being told by Ting we are not being limited on their end.  I want to believe Ting because their customer service has been so good but it's getting a bit hard to believe.  It's much more believable that Viaero is telling me the truth because it's in their best interest to have me roam on them and it's in Ting's best interest to cut off our roaming calling.

I just want the truth.

PS, I know of 3 families on Ting here that equate to 10 lines, and most of these lines are having this problem.


I David, I have 3 to 4 out of 4 bars of signal with the roaming partner and yes, texting has been working all along.  Ting has worked well for us for a few months then this problem started..  My phone did start working today after 2 weeks of not being able to make calls. This does coincide with our billing date as we started a new month but Ting has assured me we could still make roaming calls.  I'm not sure what got fixed nor how but for today, it appears fixed.  It sure acted like we hit a roaming limit for making calls just like Viaero, the roaming partner here, suggested.



  • Hey Jeff, 

    This might be a really simple problem having to do with roaming. On GSM, you can only roam in designated areas determined by our GSM network partner, even if the GSM partner says they have coverage in a specific area but the only tower your phone connects to is a roaming partner. 

    If our GSM partner gives the thumbs down to roaming because their coverage maps state they should have coverage, you'll have issues like the one you describe.

    We do not restrict roaming inside of anything within our control -- that is, if our roaming partner and network partners say you should be able to roam, you are able to roam. We cannot stop you, even if we wanted to. If one of them says you can't roam, you won't be able to roam.

    Does that make sense? 

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  • Hey Mitch,

    I haven't experienced what the OP is going through, but I'm interested. The explanation is confusing.

    I read your post to say that even though your GSM partner shows coverage in a certain place, that TIng GSM users might not be able to connect there. This occurs because the specific area at issue is covered by TIng's GSM partner through a contract with another mobile network operator, and the contract prohibits Ting's GSM partner's MVNO (Ting) from using the other mobile network operator's facilities. Am I understanding this correctly?

    If this is the case...why does the OP have texting coverage? That he does suggests his phone is actually connecting to the other mobile network operator's tower. 

    And finally: if this is so, what proportion of Ting's GSM partner's network is actually "contracted for" with another mobile network operator and thereby unavailable to Ting customers? Are Ting's coverage maps (cribbed, I'm sure, from and with permission of Ting's GSM partner) thus inaccurate, by overstating the coverage available to Ting Customers?



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  • Mitch?

    Roaming limit (which somehow didn't apply to texts) ? Something else ?

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  • Hey David, 

    Sorry for the delay. Weekends do happen!

    It's a little more complicated than that. Let me see if I can break it down a little further. Let's say I have two phones, one on Ting CDMA, and one on Ting GSM. And I'm in a basement in downtown Chicago. In this scenario, neither the Ting CDMA nor the Ting GSM network covers me.

    My Ting CDMA phone, because of how CDMA roaming works, jumps on the CDMA roaming partner, let's call them Horizon. Even though I'm inside Ting CDMA coverage on a map, because I can't get Ting CDMA coverage, my phone happily jumps on Horizon's network for calls and texts. 

    My Ting GSM phone has no service at all. The roaming partner, let's call them Ma Bell, has excellent coverage in this basement. Because of how GSM roaming works, my Ting GSM phone will not be able to make phone calls, because the Ting GSM coverage maps shows I should have coverage. Opening a network selection screen will show Ma Bell's network, but it won't connect for phone calls. 

    If (and that's a BIG IF) this is what's happening in OPs case, the text messages might be traveling over the "handshake" part of that negotiation, before the network has an opportunity to determine if it can deliver service. 

    The roaming agreements in place are set by the network providers, and we (Ting GSM customers) aren't given identical roaming coverage to the network partner's own customers. This is especially true for people who use a roaming partner as primary coverage. Because we don't have control over the roaming partner network, our ability to troubleshoot is rather limited.

    I agree with you about coverage maps being zealous about coverage. People who frequently travel in and out of native coverage areas experience the shortfalls of these maps in real time. We encourage them to open a ticket at so we can communicate serious holes in reporting between the maps provided to us by the network provider and on-the-ground coverage. That's why I'm a big fan of crowd-sourced coverage maps like OpenSignal and Sensorly.

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  • You've hit it on the nose, David. 

    The maps are provided and maintained by our network partners. The main difference is in non-preferred roaming partner areas, our maps will not show coverage, whereas the network provider's maps absolutely do.

    It's not a perfect system, but it's preferred to hiring a Ting employee to drive around all our coverage areas and provide us with a coverage map akin to Sensorly or OpenSignal. And you're right about being able to distinguish from partners and their MVNOs via those sites. That's not a distinction I had made previously. Kudos!

    As for reporting discrepancies; we do. But to give you a little bit of scope, consider this: Our GSM network partner, as of Q3 2017 had 70.7 million subscriptions. That number includes us, at 278,000. 278000/70700000 = 0.00393. 

    We make up roughly 4 tenths of 1 percent of our network partner's subscribers. We can ask for changes in coverage maps and more amenable roaming agreements, but we are in no position to demand them. And we're fine with that. Because sustainable growth like that is how we can continue to offer the no-hold customer service and one-on-one discussions like this.

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  • Thanks again, Mitch. This all makes sense, Ting is indeed a very small fish in this particular pond. 

    And, as I said, I like being here. Thanks for engaging with me about this. I cannot imagine having this sort of discussion, much less publicly, with one of the big boys. Keep it up.

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