Plan from nothing to smartphone

I changed from a landline to a cell phone six years ago but had to quit the cell five years ago.  Google Voice, skype, and similar free/cheap voip served as my “phone” for five years.  I am thinking of starting Ting, targeting to total <$20/month, and sometimes achieving down to the $6/month base service. 

 Might start back to uni and imagine could use voice, text, and data over internet from school and home.  Then, if Google or Sipgate ring through to Google Voice and cell # simultaneously, can I see caller ID on the cell and decide weather to answer when not in wifi range? 

 How ubiquitous is wifi when you are out and about?  I had to do some “war-driving” years back to make some calls when looking at apartments.  Wifi was hardly accessible like you hear about in some downtown areas (Portland,ORmaybe).  Do many businesses provide wifi and do they always require purchase?  Is security/privacy possible with public wifi?  Once connected, is it reliable and good quality (voice)?  Is it not realistic to try to use wifi except at known locations (home and work)?  Will need to answer some calls and correspond, but don’t know the feasibility of using wifi while roaming.

 I noted that you can set the wifi to never sleep, but can someone confirm that emails and other internet activity do not get forced onto the cell network, even when the phone is off (never is never, right?). 

 Can someone confirm a prorate credit is given when you don’t use all the minutes (service) in the applied price-bracket.  That is really nice and is essentially equal to a per-minute meter rate.  The 5% grace bracket overage is also a great bonus feature.  Does the grace overage apply in that first $3 bracket? 

Since this pattern is wifi intensive, is it imperative to get the top phone?  Don’t know that I will do much internet activity on any phone but have used a Kindle so know a little about the medium small display. 

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  • Wi-Fi access (note the correct spelling. See  http://www.wi-fi.org )  access varies. many places such as coffee houses, have it available for free to attract customers. Reliability and quality will also vary. I work at a university, and our public Wi-Fi access is restricted in speed. We have a web portal where you just accept our policies and them you are connected to the Internet. Security / privacy is possible with public Wi-Fi if you use a VPN product to encrypt your network traffic. Voice traffic on the Internet depends on every piece of network equipment that handles your traffic. There is generrally no QoS (quality of service) settings enforced on Internet traffic.

     

    Generally, when you are connected to Wi0Fi, the phone uses that instead of the 3G cell network. Many people recommend setting the Wi-Fi policy to never sleep to minimeze 3G data sage, If the Wi-Fi signal is good, setting this policy also minimizes battery usage.

    Ting only adjusts price brackets, You are not credited for unused resources within a bracket. If your usage would fit into a lower bracket than you paid for, Ting credits the amount to move you lower. If your usage is more than 5% over your paid bracket, they will bump you up and charge for that.

    Ting actually minimizes waste. They do not eliminate it. Ting is still the best option for many people, though, I moved from a low priced Sprint plan and it appears that my Ting plan for two phones will cost slightly more than half what I was paying on Sprint for one phone. I think this is a high usage month, to my average bill may be lower than that.

     

    BTW, since I an still on my first month with Ting, much of the above information is based on my research rather than my experience. 

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  • Thanks Bruce.  Your comment suggests you pay ahead for the month.  The following does too:

    " You choose your plans for minutes, messages and megabytes. If you go over on any of them, we will reconcile in the next pay period so you pay for what you actually used (without penalty). Likewise, if you go under on any of them, we will credit you in the next pay period so you pay for what you actually used. Again, we will credit you. "

    If you pay ahead and one day you cancel, would they bill you the last month's overage (would seem a normal expectation)?  

    Regarding the quoted policy, it seems the adjustment parses a bracket charge (in the following month), so you end up paying only for what you use (per minute, sort of).   Admittedly, I am now confused.  Please clarify if possible.  

    ...when connected to Wi-Fi, the phone uses that instead of the cell network...  Maybe the language should reflect that it is the cell service that one might want to put into "sleep".  Again, when the phone is turned off, nothing can get charged through cell services, right?  And when the phone is on again:  If you move out of wi-fi range, "wi-fi never sleeps" setting still blocks passive cell service charges, right (receiving text or data)?   

    If "wi-fi never sleeps" setting is blocking reception of cell services:

      Can phone calls still ring through (when in and out of  wi-fi range)?  Does it depend on Google Voice ringing the GV #, a SIP account, Skype, or other VOIP service?  

         Can you clearly see if you are answering a call over SIP/VOIP or over the cell network? 

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  • If you cancel, I expect you would either be credited or billed, depending on whether you chose the correct bucket sizes for your usage since your last bill.

    You are correct about the brackets. I have complained to Ting in another thread that their advertising is deceptive and does not match their actual plans. They say they are working on re-wording their marketing.

    By default, I think you can usually only turn 3G data on or off.The phone prefers a known Wi-Fi network, if one is available, and disables 3G Data after it successfully authenticates to Wi-Fi. If you move out od Wi-Fi range, the phone will normally turn on 3G Data (unless it is manually turned off) and actively scan the available Wi-Fi networks. Normal Text is not data, but is part of the cell phone signal. MMS (multimedia text) of pictures uses data, wither Wi-Fi or 3G,

    Some services, such as Google Voice allow you to receive phone calls and text messages over Data (Wi-Fi 0r 3G) instead of the cell phone signal, but i have not tried that/

    "Wi-Fi never sleeps" just uses a Wi-Fi signal if one is available. Otherwise, when your phone sleeps, the Wi-Fi is turned off and the 3G Data is turned on, using Ting data. Pretty much any services wanting data use Wi-Fi if it is available. 

    I have not tried SIP / VoIP, so I cannot comment there. I am a wireless (Wi-Fi) network engineer, though. I hope I have not lost you in detail.

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  • "when your phone sleeps, the Wi-Fi is turned off and the 3G Data is turned on"  No, Really!!! ??  So the cell network turns on automatically.  Then do I get charged if email comes in during this time; and text messages (yes, they are not data and are charged separately)?  I think voicemail is free, so if you don't answer a call there are no minutes used and no charge.  (?)

    I may want to turn wi-fi off, but I don't necessarily want to accrue cell service charge just because someone sends a text, a file, or calls my cell.  Can I always stream data (files, email, Data) to the internet side, regardless of the state of the wi-fi radio and the connection status?  If I wake in the morning, turn the phone on, and find data and text messages waiting from the night before, can I reject them and not accrue the service usage?  Can I see any information about incoming texts and "data" that I can use to screen it like a phone call before opening and  accepting the charges/service usage?   

    Thanks for your patience.  (Bruce and anyone reading) 

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  • Jan,

    I was not clear. If the Wi-Fi sleeps when the screen turns off (the default), then when the screen turns off, 3G would normally be turned on. If that happened, an incoming email would use Ting data.

    It is possible to turn off your data manually. How this is done varies, depending on your model of phone.

    I believe that once the information reaches your phone, it counts on the plan.

    It costs nothing to call Ting support and discuss your concerns. I am sure they can describe their plans over the phone much better that I can on this forum.

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  • I use an email reader on my computer, but just realized that cell apps might work differently than computer apps.  Maybe cell apps are minimal scripts that depend on the internet/wi-fi connection to run?  Can you type a short email and save it to be sent later?  If you close all "apps" on the phone, no data can be streamed over wi-fi or cell, right?  Can you close all apps at once?

    "Some services, such as Google Voice allow you to receive phone calls and text messages over Data (Wi-Fi 0r 3G) instead of the cell phone signal"  Ok, that is what I thought.  

    Ting:  Users pay ahead, and there is a confusing adjustment at the end of the month.  It is not clear if it constitutes a fractional adjustment or a "next bracket" adjustment on the "next-month", pre-pay charge.  Why not bill the applicable bracket at the end of the month?  The fraction would be a simple adjustment calculation, but even if you charge the whole bracket, it might be much more clear to everyone.  Pre-payment seems unusual and confusing.  

      

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  • Jan, I bought a Samsung Conquer and a Vero dumb phone for my Ting service. I have managed to pay less than $34/month for both phones with the Conquer smart phone costing about $21 of that. I keep 4G & 3G turned off unless I need it and rely on Wi-Fi as much as possible. I have good Wi-Fi at work and home and I've found a lot of restaurants have free Wi-Fi. If the phone you choose doesn't have the ability to turn off 3G, you can find an app that will. 3G Watchdog is one. To clarify, you pay Ting in advance each month and then at the next billing they true up between the tier you chose initially and the one you ended up using. Hope this helps.

    DC

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  • Thanks DC.  I think it was the other thread that Bruce referred to where someone said if you only use 50% of the paid tier, you get half the fee back in credit.  Others say no; they suggest that if you pre-pay a tier not used, next time you pre-pay the lower tier, but you forfeit unused service within a tier (and get a complimentary grace if overage is %5 or less).  Ting:  Please bill after the service month.  And, the fractional calculation is 5th-grade math (or earlier).  Save Ting the grace, save users whatever they don't use, and keep it all simple.  Why not?   

    I did use a pre-paid cell for a short period.  I think you could leave text messages unopened and not incur the charge.  I don't remember if you could see the phone # they were sent from.  The service was a Sprint reseller, and some computer spammers did send some text and voice ads.  Friends and family were not texting me then, so I stopped answering texts, and stopped answering phone calls unless I recognized the #.  From memory, checking voicemail was free.   Are texts charged when they reach the phone or when opened, and can you see the # sent from?

      

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  • Can I turn off 3G/4G (Data) and texting, do essentially everything over wi-fi, manage phone calls with Google Voice, and screen incoming cell calls that do not stream via wi-fi to Google Voice#?   [turning off data and texting independently]  This is essentially the $6 base rate plan.  If it can be done technically, why is no one practically able to do this (Granted, usage patterns vary to the extreme between  individuals)?  DC's example looks like usage in the second voice tier and the first text and data tiers.  I just wonder if trying to limit my budget to $6-15 is virtually impossible, and even $21 feels like you can hardly use your phone.  

    Sometimes the home wi-fi connection will drop for a few minutes.  Would a phone call be cut, or would it seamlessly roll onto the cell service?

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  • "Sometimes the home wi-fi connection will drop for a few minutes. Would a phone call be cut, or would it seamlessly roll onto the cell service?"  A Google Voice or other SiP connection; sorry.  On second thought, I don't think GV or other services are set up to transfer the connection to cell service; anyone know for certain?

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  • Hi Jan,

    I have used not used an SIP in a while, but I believe you are correct.

    The call does not get transferred seamlessly to the other connection.  I believe the call gets dropped.

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  • Jan,

    When you are a Ting customer, you can go into your account dashboard and change the settings for your phone to not allow texts, web data and even cell calls to your phone if you want, plus have calls transferred to a GV #, that way you should be able to have a pure wi-fi device.

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  • Jan,

    When you are a Ting customer, you can go into your account dashboard and change the settings for your phone to not allow texts, web data and even cell calls to your phone if you want, plus have calls transferred to a GV #, that way you should be able to have a pure wi-fi device.

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  • It looks like usage credits are still a bit unclear in this thread. The way it works is that you get credited only if you drop completely below the tier you have chosen. For example, lets say you selected the medium voice tier which gets you 500 minutes. You will not get a credit unless you use 100 minutes or less, putting you into the small usage tier (I'm ignoring the 5% grace for the sake of simplicity). If you use 101-500 minutes, again ignoring the 5% grace, you will get charged for the medium tier.

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  • Samuel s correct.

    I think Jan misunderstood me in a previous thread. In that posting I was describing what Tin appears to be advertising and saying that is different from what they are actually offering.

    I understand Ting is internally discussing how to make their advertising better match their offering while still remaining simple to understand.

    Sorry for any confusion I caused. I have been busy with "real life" so I did not respond sooner.

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  • Wish Ting would work internally to live up to their advertising, rather than changing the advertising... maybe something like "rollover minutes" 

    http://www.puretalkusa.com/landing/cheap-cell-phone-service.php

    Just seems odd that they advertise what people want, but can't deliver it.

    #

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  • Our billing approach was developed after a LOT of research. Our original instinct was pure utility, and it evolved to our current offering based on lots of prospective customer feedback.  

    Our intent was to develop something that was unique, and offered good value, and that would resonate with a majority of users. There is no question that there is no "one size satisfies all" approach. We did our homework, and placed our bets.

    We are always open to evolving, and appreciate your feedback / constructive criticism. Thanks!

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