Data roaming Packages(Oh yeah I went there!)

Hello ting team and ting users. I know this has been brought up before, but I would like to see data roaming data packages available from the plan selections. I find myself going through 20 minutes of sprint dead spot where I roam perfectly on us smellular and Veri$on. I know a 500mb package here on ting is $13 and I know a 100MB package on ting Is $3. I would also like the option of selecting from let's say a package that includes roaming. So keep the current data packages you guys offer and then offer a sub category called data packages with roaming. I would not mind paying $17 to $20 for roaming capabilities with 500mb of data and you guys could bump the 100MB plan to include roaming for $10. These plans would not be for everyone. It would be for people like me who live in the sticks of Maine or any other place that sometimes has spotty sprint coverage. Thanks everyone and I would be interested to hear any comments or concerns you may have about this, but I think it is a good idea that is worth looking into!

0

Comments

16 comments
  • There are essentially three issues here:

    1. Our desire to keep things simple.
    2. Our lack of competitive data roaming prices. Right now the cost to us of off-network roaming is high enough that we think most people would not be willing to pay for it.
    3. It's reasonable to ask why we don't make the expensive roaming available for those that want it, but the concern is that people will not realize what they're getting themselves into when they turn on data roaming and we'll have a lot of people with sticker shock after the fact. Something we've worked really hard to avoid.

    So while I'd never say never, this isn't something we're looking at right now.

    Thanks for going there though. :) 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • I can understand the desire to avoid post-paid sticker shock from very expensive data roaming. However, I would also love to see some mechanism for us to have data roaming available for those situations where we are willing to pay the price.

    I guess this is primarily a business decision for Ting -- you think that given the rates you could offer there wouldn't be sufficient demand to justify the infrastructure investment required to offer it. Can you tell us what the pricing would look like, even approximately, to generate some input from the users here as to how much interest there is?

    Conceptually it also seems quite straightforward to avoid the sticker shock issue by offering the roaming as prepaid buckets, though for all I know that may be technically difficult from the perspective of Ting's systems. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Yeah, it's not quite that simple.

    If we make data roaming available you'd have a choice of turning it off/on through the Ting website. And you also have options on the phone about whether you roam or not and how you will be notified when you roam.

    We could default accounts to "off" which helps avoid accidental use, but it then drives up support calls from people not knowing how to turn it on. And if people do turn it on, they need to set their phone to handle data roaming the way they expect, which may be non-trivial.

    It also gets us into debates with customers about whether a particular use of data was ACTUALLY roaming or not, as in "I would never have used $50 worth of data on roaming - there's no way my phone was roaming!".

    BTW, we can't offer prepaid buckets the way you're suggesting. On a technical/infrastructure level we work as a post-paid service. We can't cut you off mid-call or mid-download like a prepaid service can when you've used up your prepaid balance. We just get a report of what you've used with a bit of a delay (at at times a fairly long delay).

    Based on this (and knowing our wholesale cost for data roaming) we've never done a calculation on what we might charge for it.

     

    Based on that level of complexity and potential confusion.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Yeah, not having prepaid as an option does make it difficult. 

    I'd be satisfied if there was an option on the dashboard to turn on data roaming on a per device basis. You could put up a huge red flashing warning that said "if you turn this on, you could be paying $5/MB for every byte of data you use until you turn it off. Don't say we didn't warn you. And we're not going to help you turn on data roaming on your phone, because if you can't figure that out on your own, well that's a problem :)" That being said, it doesn't really seem like a customer friendly option. 

    However, now that I think about it some more I realize that it wouldn't work the way I'd want, because I'd only want to turn roaming on when I didn't have Sprint data but if I didn't have Sprint data I wouldn't be able to access the dashboard to turn it on :) Still, I suppose I could find a wifi hotspot at McDonalds to get it turned on. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • That's true. Roger.

    When I went to Canada this summer, my son (also a Ting customer) forgot to allow International roaming in the dashboard for his wife's phone. Since she was roaming internationally, she could not get the updated profile to use her phone.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • So, I have. sprint phone roams has data roaming on vzw included in my plan. Why does ting not work this way?

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Thomas,

    Ting seeks to keep prices low and plans simple in order to appeal to the underserved majority of the wireless market. Ting is not the best provider for everyone.

    Offering "free" data roaming would mean a severe increase in ting's rates. Their added costs would need to be spread among all Ting users.

    A Ting staff member in another thread mentioned that roaming data is about ten times the cost of non-roaming data. That's a lot of extra cost to distribute. Ting chose not not have roaming data, especially with the prevalence of many Wi-Fi alternatives.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Ken Schafer,

    Ting has repeatedly said that off-network roaming in the US is possible, but it's expensive. I have ported two of my Verizon phones to Ting and have two on Verizon simply because Sprint's data network is horrible and unreliable. If there was an option to data roam within the US I would pay for it, since I know that when I need it, it's there; I travel too often to want to risk relying on the Sprint network.

    This past weekend I went to the White Mountains and hiked four of the 4000 footers, I never lost 4G coverage with my Verizon phone, my dad on AT&T lost full service 15 miles before we even arrived, and my cousin on Sprint had call/text only and only for 2 miles into the trails. I've had similar experiences when traveling around the country. Verizon has always proved itself to be the best coverage. They also have the worst rates.

    That type of reliability is hard to drop though. I know for sure that if you at least offer data roaming,  and make it a must-enable option and charge at a different rate for the use of it, people will take it; Ting is still cheaper by far, and people who travel would at least like the option to be there. The option not being there makes Ting not an option.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Ken Schafer,

    To your comments about the added support costs to Ting to support roaming, I tend to dislike the opinions every company I've ever known has about it's customers: that all customers and idiots who need their hands held to understand anything. Marketing guys like that annoy the crap out of me, probably because I feel as a software developer that if you're too dumb to figure it out, stop using it, if it's not easy enough to figure out, simplify it. Honestly, Ting has been great about their write ups, videos and guides. The vast majority of customers will figure it out, if they want to get it working. To Ting, all you'd have to do is make it easy to toggle, easy to understand, provide alerts when roaming data is being used (optional, configurable), and create a few guides to show you to toggle the option on the various android versions and manufacturer modifications. If Ting doesn't want to make those videos, I'll gladly do it for Ting if the option for roaming data was created. Hell, I'll likely even make a special Ting-network-only Android app to help monitor the roaming data usage and whilst on roaming automatically turn off background data. You know what, if Ting does ever allow data roaming, I will make such an app and I'll make it free just because it meant Ting was awesome enough to be customer-centric.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Benjamin,

    Ting is well aware that its customers are not idiots.

    I am sure that is one reason they set up the Ting Army to get some additional user input & testing.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Hi Benjamin,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, and we do appreciate your offer to help us develop functionality, that is great! Talk about advocating for a feature!

    There is a little more to the story with data roaming between Sprint and Verizon. It is not very good, especially for the price. It is not possible to get equivalent to Verizon retail data service from Verizon as a Sprint roamer. There are a couple of reasons for this, some of it is technical, and some of it is commercial.  Regardless, if we offered it today, you would get the same experience your friend with a Sprint retail phone had, which I would imagine would not be satisfactory.

    We anticipate the Sprint network making fairly significant improvements in the next 12-24 months. I certainly can not tell you that it will be better than Verizon's network in this timeframe, but it will be better than it is today.

    Improving coverage is very important to us, and we have several initiatives underway that may give our customers better coverage, in addition to the improvements Sprint is making. 

    I hope our positions are never construed as thinking our customers are not intelligent, as that is certainly not the case! 

    Thanks again for taking the time to write, ~s

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • I am aware Sprint is growing their coverage, they certainly advertise the growing number of 4G cities all the time, but that means another year without Ting. Or more, most likely more, since they're focusing on upgrading their 4G LTE coverage, not necessarily improving coverage in the middle-of-no-where like the White Mountains and my dad's house in the place where hick's call hackville up in Maine. Sadly, I also understand it, Sprint has more reason to upgrade to 4G LTE since they have to make up for previously going with WiMAX, and they want to catch up their coverage in larger cities where it means the most return for the work. However, even at my house in Woburn, MA closish to Boston the Sprint coverage of the Ting phone in my house is terrible, I had my girlfriend switch to Ting from Verizon to save some money, which she does (lots and lots of it - so good job Ting - love you guys [and gals]) and she barely manages to get two bars of coverage on her HTC One. The coverage map show sit should have the medium-grade call quality and 3G data coverage, she doesn't manage to get 3G and the call quality is so bad she now uses Groove IP in the house with Google Voice to use Wifi for calling. I mean, it's so terrible, when it does manage to work she sounds like she is in chipmunk from Alvin and the Chipmunks, and when it doesn't, she can't say anyway and can only hear 30% of the return. When in good coverage areas though, works like a charm. It's because of that quality issue with Sprint I can't bring myself to drop Verizon, but I really wish I could, since Ting is so great.

    I did not mean to suggest Ting thought all customers were lacking basic intelligence, simply that the statements above suggest supporting new features would be difficult implies that people would not be able to figure it out. I essentially wanted to say that if that was a reason, it can be overcome and that if it's actually a problem I'll make an app that fixes the problems users have so they do not (1) get charges for roaming when they weren't aware, (2) can avoid too many surcharges, (3) can still benefit from roaming when they need it.

    Thanks for the response.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Thanks again for the engagement and kind words. We appreciate you advocating for / promoting our services, and telling us what we can do better to make us easier to recommend.

    Ting has been publicly available for 18 months, and we have learned a lot, and evolved our service offerings significantly in that time. There is no question that coverage is VERY important, if not the most important thing. I assure you that we are aware of this, and that we are actively working on several different initiatives related to coverage.

    You might want to consider joining the "Ting Army" (see: https://help.ting.com/entries/21691251-Join-the-Ting-Army- ) if you are interested in participating in betas and providing feedback on our development efforts. 

    We certainly feel we are are not done innovating. It would be more appropriate to say we are just getting started. :)

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • @Benjamin I have a Nexus S 4G and even with 1 bar I think the call quality is awesome. Granted, that is in my location and I haven't tried it much though, since I use Spare Phone with Google Voice for almost all of my calls.

    If your girlfriend is having call quality problems with GrooveIP, I highly suggest Spare Phone ($3). With a very tiny bit of tweaking no one ever complains about the call quality (have to reduce the speaker/mic gain or the other side gets massive echos). Also, try tweaking the home router to give priority to data coming from your cell phone (you can do this by giving a high QoS to the cell MAC address).

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • @Seth Pinter  Exact opposite, 1 bar is what caused the bad quality, using Groove IP drastically improved the quality, however, I will look into Spare Phone all the same.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • @Benjamin - ah, ok. I knew the Sprint coverage wasn't good, but thought you were saying you were also having problems with GrooveIP.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.