The Moocher welcomes Ting Mobile

Ting Mobile has surged to the top of Consumer Reports wireless carrier popularity survey. Ting is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) serving the continental United States reselling T-Mobile and Sprint service in its service territories. Coverage is the same as the parent carrier. If you’re in town on or a major road, life is good. In the prairie or the mountains I can’t hear you now but I am never there.

References

  1. https://www.ting.com
  2. Consumer Reports carrier survey (website subscribers only)
  3. Online review https://youtu.be/tpcxbBrEHgs
  4. Funny Advert https://youtu.be/vV_l9ZoBfOI

Why did I change

The incumbent MVNO operator was OK technically but known for horrid customer service. Thanks to good articles on GigaOM and Ars, I made it through on boarding with the incumbent without needing to call them. Since then, I’ve not had to call them but I’m finding my website password goes missing from time to time. Most recently, when I started looking at the number porting. You have to mother may I to move your old number. Being a GV convert, i let Ting give me a new number and saved firing the incumbent for another day.

The big reason I changed was that ATT, operator of the underlying service, had been going to seed. Call quality,, though OK at the house, was down nationally as was data throughput and latency was near the top. They did not offer Visual Voice Mail, tethering, and were keeping WiFi calling a secret. I got curious, visited Consumer Reports, and discovered that Straight Talk had been drifting down on the value chart.

And did I say the incumbent MVNO website is broken and garish, the customer service is long times on hold, and registering for a call-back. And the website password recovery procedure appears to be busted. And the customer service people are all Latin Americans so going is slow event though most are bi-lingual. I expect a root canal would take less time than canceling service.

Why Ting

They resell T-Mobile is a GSM carrier making it compatible with T-Mobile iPhones (GSM is my preference as I expect to do some European travel soon).

  • They work
  • Data is fast
  • Latency is low
  • Call coverage is good
  • They support call delivery via WiFI
  • They support tethering to my other iThings
  • They have the best customer support in the business
  • No phone trees — a voice with a pulse answers support, can chat some, and can actually help.
  • Home call quality is superior using the WiFi option

Onboard experience

Bringing the new number up was a matter of buying a Ting SIM from Amazon (next day delivery), installing it, and following the iPhone on boarding instructions on the website. They vary from iPhone model to model, so read the entire page before doing anything. Then step through. The drill is to

  • change the SIM,
  • watch the phone do a carrier update via WiFi,
  • visit Ting.com to activate the phone
  • review the settings post activation
  • set up iPhone visual voicemail

Visual Voicemail

Ting and T-Mobile are getting iPhone visual voice mail sorted. T-Mobile has offered this service since they began offering iPhones (the beginning). They are just now making it available to MVNO’s. There are still some issues to be resolved. No matter, old school voice mail works.

About half of Ting’s iPhone customers are in visual voice mail limbo. The dialog comes up but you can’t set your greeting. Calling the number from OOMA, you get the robot voice greeting. And you can leave a message. To check voicemail, call *123, enter your password, and use the keypad to do the normal 1 & 7 thing

My practice is to give out my Google Voice number to my peeps. Google handles voicemail chores for that number. I have my GV set to send transcribed voice mail to the phone by SMS. I did this with my former service and it works well.

The Website and Support

The website is a huge improvement over the industry norm of garish visual design and clutter. The site is clean, task oriented for pre-sales, sales, on boarding, and support. Oh, a support person answers, not a robot and the support person can actually help. I called about voice mail and was told about the current difficulties, some spells I could try, and confirmation that the account was properly provisioned and which carrier settings version was current. All in all, a pleasant experience.

Ting pokes a bit of fun at the competition here.

Google Voice

Ting and Google Voice play well but there are some GV settings page quirks. The checkboxes for SMS delivery and Voicemail delivery are broken on the Google Voice settings page. I’ve filed gripes. The pages are broken but the functionality works as expected.

OOMA Premier

OOMA Premier is aware of Google Voice but not your mobile. If Google Voice is set up correctly, OOMA Premier continues to work. The key trick is to reserve line 1 as your home phone and use the second Premier line (line 2) as your Google Voice delivery target. If you do this, life is good.

Billing

This is where Ting is different. Rather than subscribing to a specific service level, like the all you can eat buffet, Ting has a tiered rate plan. Each phone number is $6 per month. In addition, you pay the E911 fee and various federal and state taxes, typically another $5. Then you pay for air time used, data used, and messages used by tiers. The rate schedule is here.

Ting reports that the median bill is $26 per month, but your milage can vary if you use a lot of data. SMS are cheap, $0.0025 per message, yes 1/4 cent each. Air time and data bill in blocks. I made some assumptions and discovered that worst case assumptions were about the same cost as my StraightTalk unlimited service.