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Roaming, Regional, Mobile to Mobile, and Other Questions

Hi Ting folks.  As an aging geek and bargain hunter, you people are really speaking my language!  Your simple approach of "everybody's on a family plan, for voice and data" is beautiful, and you seem to be scrupulously straightforward, which is a bit scary.

Please answer the following for me...

  1. With Ting is there any such a thing as a Regional Calling / Home area?  (I'm guessing not, that calls are either Sprint or off network?)
  2. Does a call across town cost exactly the same as a call across the country?
  3. Are there any "free" mobile to mobile or in-network (or "faves" etc.) calls, between Ting phones or otherwise?  (I'm guessing not?)
  4. Are "nights and weekends" charged the same rate as other times?  (Assuming yes.)
  5. Do calls between devices on the SAME account rack up DOUBLE the minutes (i.e., charged twice for the same call)?
  6. Do phone numbers or area codes have any effect on pricing?  For example, if I have a NY number and Florida number on the same plan, does that make any difference?
  7. Do any Ting calls use VoIP when on WiFi?  (I have no idea how Sprint coverage is in my house.)
  8. Any Femtocell support coming for those with bad Sprint coverage?
  9. Is there ANY hope of you supporting multiple carriers?  I worry about what happens if Sprint raises their rates to you, or goes out of business, etc.  It's surprising that you're CDMA (as much as I respect Verizon's quality), when it would seem GSM/LTE would fit in better with your forward thinking nature.
  10. Does Sprint have means of degrading service to Ting (and other MVNO) customers in favor of Sprint customers in a particular crowded cell?
  11. Can people port Ting devices between different Ting accounts?  (If for example I switched a cousin's Ting phone between my Ting account and my brother's Ting account).
  12. Is business pricing the same as consumer pricing?
  13. Are there any "protection" plans available to insure the value of / quickly-replace the phone?  (Hopefully not more than 2 or maybe 3 flavors.)
  14. If the worst happens and you close, will Verizon or Sprint accept the phones on their networks?
  15. Are there any "tri-mode" phones planned, with the ability for SIM, world travel, etc.?  [ Edit: I see your top-end phones do. ]
  16. Any "feature" phones planned, somewhere between the pricey Androids and the basic Mom phone?
  17. If "buy a Ting phone" will continue to be a requirement, any plans to sell refurbs too?
  18. Any possible timeline for more flexible device policies (re-using existing ones / eBayed / etc.)?
  19. I understand you charge as little as possible, so I'm wondering about texting.  All the armchair experts at Slashdot claim that SMS is "free" for the carriers since it uses unused frames of the packets... or something.  Is that true, and even if not, why are text messages still relatively expensive on Ting compared to data traffic?  Why are text messages the cellular equivalent of HP printer ink?
  20. One provider (MetroPCS) estimates a 16.3% taxes and fees figure for conventional cell providers.  That seems about right (maybe low) in my Verizon/ATT experience.  Is that figure appropriate to add to our expected Ting bill, or would Ting bills be significantly lower (e.g., only sales tax)?

Thanks very much for your attention, and for wading through the above.

 -- B

B Ting Answered

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Hi B, it's Ben from Ting.

The earlier answers were from "T Kinzel", a member of the forums who I'm sure was well meaning, but not a Ting staffer. 

I've taken a stab at answering your questions below:

  1. With Ting is there any such a thing as a Regional Calling / Home area?  (I'm guessing not, that calls are either Sprint or off network?)

No. If you're in the United States and find yourself with a CDMA signal, you'll be able to make a phone call without any additional fees.

 
2. Does a call across town cost exactly the same as a call across the country?

Yes. Within the United States, we do not charge additional fees for calls to another city or state. If you're making calls outside the country, you can review our long distance surcharges at https://ting.com/international_calling 

 
3. Are there any "free" mobile to mobile or in-network (or "faves" etc.) calls, between Ting phones or otherwise?  (I'm guessing not?)

No. We believe that offering this sort of feature is one of the ways carriers have started to complicate cell phone plans. We count your minutes whether you're calling your best friend, or your worst enemy.

 
4. Are "nights and weekends" charged the same rate as other times?  (Assuming yes.)

Yes, you guessed it. We're following the same principle as #3.

 
5. Do calls between devices on the SAME account rack up DOUBLE the minutes (i.e., charged twice for the same call)?

Yes. We charge for every minute of airtime used. Same as #3 and #4. The big carriers have fooled users into worrying about being "double billed". In some instances, where usage is VERY heavy between family members, this is fine. But most often, although customers take comfort in the fact they're not "double billed", the carrier is over-charging for the privilege.  (Note: I say *MOST* times, not *ALL*)

 
6. Do phone numbers or area codes have any effect on pricing?  For example, if I have a NY number and Florida number on the same plan, does that make any difference?

No difference. Although our area code selection for phone numbers is currently based on your billing address. Taxes are also applied based on billing address too.

 
7. Do any Ting calls use VoIP when on WiFi?  (I have no idea how Sprint coverage is in my house.)

No. Sprint has an AIRAVE device which uses VoIP technology to rebroadcast a CDMA signal, but we don't offer anything similar right now.

 
8. Any Femtocell support coming for those with bad Sprint coverage?

Not currently (the AIRAVE mentioned above would be an example of this)

 
9. Is there ANY hope of you supporting multiple carriers?  I worry about what happens if Sprint raises their rates to you, or goes out of business, etc.  It's surprising that you're CDMA (as much as I respect Verizon's quality), when it would seem GSM/LTE would fit in better with your forward thinking nature.

You never know. One of the great things about a web company like Tucows building a mobile carrier is that we can build our billing, provisioning, and management systems in a way that could enable multiple carrier support. But the official answer is NO and will be for a while. (But we like the way you're thinking!)

 
10. Does Sprint have means of degrading service to Ting (and other MVNO) customers in favor of Sprint customers in a particular crowded cell?

The way you word your question, makes it difficult to answer. As the network owner, they would have the means to degrade service, but it's our understanding (and we work closely with them) that outside of standard network management, there are no throttling measures in place.

 
11. Can people port Ting devices between different Ting accounts?  (If for example I switched a cousin's Ting phone between my Ting account and my brother's Ting account).

Absolutely.

 
12. Is business pricing the same as consumer pricing?

Yes! We built our plans assuming that families and businesses would benefit. The fact that you can have an unlimited number of devices on on account, and our visual usage charts is evidence of our desire to be a super awesome solution for business. 

 
13. Are there any "protection" plans available to insure the value of / quickly-replace the phone?  (Hopefully not more than 2 or maybe 3 flavors.)

No, we don't offer insurance plans.  If you have a phone fail within the warranty period, we'll work with you to have a replacement phone shipped out. We can offer expedited shipping as well.

 
14. If the worst happens and you close, will Verizon or Sprint accept the phones on their networks?

We (Tucows) have been in business since 1994 and the decision to enter the mobile space wasn't taken lightly. We're in it for the long haul. But if it makes you feel better: since our devices are Sprint capable, they could be taken over by Sprint.

 
15. Are there any "tri-mode" phones planned, with the ability for SIM, world travel, etc.?  [ Edit: I see your top-end phones do. ]

Yes! As you've noticed, the Motorola Photon is a world phone, with an unlocked GSM (meaning it will work with SIM cards of non-US carriers).

 
16. Any "feature" phones planned, somewhere between the pricey Androids and the basic Mom phone?

Always working on this!

 
17. If "buy a Ting phone" will continue to be a requirement, any plans to sell refurbs too?

When we talk about all the things we like to do, this is a maybe/hopefully someday idea. As our customer base grows, there's probably a pretty good market for something like this. That being said, we're also tackling some really big projects that will help us get better in other areas. So yeah... maybe someday.

 
18. Any possible timeline for more flexible device policies (re-using existing ones / eBayed / etc.)?

Not sure what you mean here, but I *think* you're asking about BYOD (bring your own device). We'd love to offer BYOD someday. But I have nothing official to report.

 
19. I understand you charge as little as possible, so I'm wondering about texting.  All the armchair experts at Slashdot claim that SMS is "free" for the carriers since it uses unused frames of the packets... or something.  Is that true, and even if not, why are text messages still relatively expensive on Ting compared to data traffic?  Why are text messages the cellular equivalent of HP printer ink?

It's true huh!? SMS messages are part of the cellular signalling network and therefore often considered "free" in terms of their network cost. We're billed for them though, which means it would be silly of us to give them away. One day, perhaps the industry will change, our cost to provide SMS will be reduce, and we can pass that savings on to you. This is already starting to happen with Apple pushing SMS messages as data to other iPhone users. Innovation will most likely solve this problem for you/us. :)

 
20. One provider (MetroPCS) estimates a 16.3% taxes and fees figure for conventional cell providers.  That seems about right (maybe low) in my Verizon/ATT experience.  Is that figure appropriate to add to our expected Ting bill, or would Ting bills be significantly lower (e.g., only sales tax)?

It's actually pretty crazy how complicated taxes are for cell phones... from the federal level, all the way down to the municipality. We collect for taxes as required by law, but we don't do any of that silly "recovery fee" stuff that other carriers charge and make it appear as those they're also government required taxation. If you call us, or open a help request, and tell us where you live, we can tell you what taxes and fees you would pay on a $50 phone bill.

Thanks for the awesome questions B, I hope I've answered them all to your satisfaction!

Have a fantastic week,

-Ben

Ben Lucier 0 votes
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Hi folks.

We removed some earlier comments from this thread and I wanted to offer an explanation to the original poster and to others who might be looking for the comment.

Although the removed comments were mostly accurate, we worried that since this is a forum called "Ask Ting", an answer from another member *could* be confusing for other members of the forum. 

We would normally never delete comments that further a discussion, but in this case, we felt that other visitors to the thread would not be served well if we didn't remove the original member-provided comment.

Thanks for your understanding, 

-Ben 

Ben Lucier 0 votes
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Excited to start with Ting. It's understandable that mobile-to-mobile minutes are billed, given the low rates.  For clarification -- does this mean that if I have two phones on my plan, and I call one of them using the other, each phone is being charged usage, thus each minute talked counts as two minutes?  It is understandable if this is the case.  Thanks, -Tom.

Tom Walker 0 votes
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Thanks very much, Ben, those were exactly the kind of answers I was hoping for.  (No problem about the removed messages; as you could see I was a bit confused at first myself.)  Your answer did raise at least one related question, which is how/whether I could in fact get a distant area code (without, for example, porting an existing number) but perhaps I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

 

Tom, I'm pretty sure the answer is yes, that's what #5 was about (but I speak only as a potential customer).

B Ting 0 votes
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Hey B!

Right now, our area code selection is based on your billing address. We hope to one day offer area code selection outside of your billing area code though (and if you're porting in a number from a different part of the country, we can do that today, regardless of billing country).

-Ben

Ben Lucier 0 votes
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Ben:  Does Ting now offer Data 3G roaming as well as voice or just voice roaming over any CDMA signal?  Also, Brian mentioned that the service levels have a 5% buffer.   Meaning, I could set the text/data/voice rate at XS $0 and the billing system won't bounce me to the small level until I breach 5 texts/voice minutes/MB.  Is that accurate?  It sounds rather too good to be true but Brian made it rather clear to me over the phone; unless I misunderstood (which is why I'm asking now).

Sagi Quarius 0 votes
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I love the concept of Ting, I just wish it would fit in my use case.  I have a family plan with Sprint where we very heavily use the mobile to mobile feature and get a corporate discount.  Our cost with sprint is about $215 (~$260 less $10 in taxes but not recoveries less $36 in insurance) for 5 lines with a typical usage of 1,000 anytime + 500 night/weekend + 5500 mobile-to-mobile = 7,000 minutes + 1,500 texts + 1.5GB of data per month. Ting would cost about $218 for the same AND eliminate the $200-$300 subsidy on new phones.  I understand that the heavy mobile-to-mobile maybe unusual, but is there any way to make this work?  Could get a lot of the way there with some type of SEEMLESS VOIP app for rooted phones similar to the old Tmobile EMA @HOME?  Also, with BYOD, have you considered reselling very cheap refurb 4G phone phones?  As I understand it, you need to purchase a 4G Ting phone if you want 4G on a rooted BYOD swap?  It pretty much makes the concept of swap uneconomical vs selling the phone on ebay and buying a new Ting phone (assuming you sell the wanted phone, but considering you have the S3...).  

Am I missing something?  Is it simply that Sprint sells doesn't differentiate the type of minute it is selling you, so you can't pass along the savings?  That is too bad if so.

Thanks!

Dave Private 0 votes
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Hey Dave,

If you're a heavy user of free mobile to mobile minutes (a very heavy user, mind you), then you might be realizing more savings with your current carrier. Most users don't benefit from free M2M, but in some cases it does happen. Ting isn't necessarily the least expensive option for all people... just most of them!

I'm not sure I understand your question around 4G BYOD swapping... can you explain this a bit more to me?

-Ben

Ben Lucier 0 votes
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OK I have a follow-up question related to #15 - world phones.  As a side-effect of BYOSD, I have an activated Touch Pro2, which is a world phone with a SIM.  What happens if I roam to Europe with it?  Will I be charged whatever the current per-minute Sprint rate is for international roaming?

Rob Borucki 0 votes
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European roaming is insanely expensive. It should not be legal to charge that much in my opinion. Try something to the tune of $1.50/min in England and $2/min for other major countries (France, Germany, Italy). It gets even more expensive for the less developed countries. You don't have to take my word for it though: http://internationalroaming.sprint.com

You'd be much better served by disabling your device (turn off incoming/outgoing calls/texts and data) via the dashboard when you board the plane and picking up a local SIM card when you hit the floor at Europe. The prices for a local SIM (buy a new one for every country you go to, international roaming in Europe is again not cheap) are actually sensible and are the option as far as I'm concerned. Using your native phone just means getting ripped off.

Ryan Newton 0 votes
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Thanks Ryan.  I agree and would choose the local SIM route over using my native phone for sure.  I was just curious if it would even work.

Rob Borucki 0 votes