There’s a new phone service in town–Ting. And it’s shaping up to be an attractive and affordable alternative to the big four cell phone providers.
I’ve been using Verizon Wireless for as long as I’ve had a cell phone. My latest Verizon phone, the Droid 2, is the first smartphone I’ve ever owned, and I love it. The problem is the service to use it is really expensive. I’m up for an early upgrade in July and was excited to get my hands on the Droid Razr Maxx or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but I’ve since reconsidered. After looking into my monthly data usage I found I’m not using nearly what I’m paying for at Verizon. My wife and I share a plan, which costs $145 per month for both phones. That’s 700 minutes of talk time (the lowest available option), unlimited texting (this is basically all we use our phones for), and 2 GB of data for my phone (she doesn’t have a smartphone yet). Last month, my wife and I only used 146 minutes, sent 1,419 texts, and used 695 megabytes of data. We are not getting our money’s worth.
I was recently turned on to Ting, a phone service that opened its doors, so to speak, in February 2012. For starters, there are no contracts with Ting. If I want to make the switch from Verizon, on the other hand, I have to wait another six months until my contract is up in November, unless I pay $700 to break our two phones out of contract. The catch with Ting is users pay full retail price for phones up front–at larger contracted carriers like Verizon you get a discounted price on phones when beginning a two-year contract, which is usually about half off. This is significantly cost effective when considering retail on some phones is upwards of $600 or more. While this may turn some away from Ting initially–phone selection is sparse at the moment, but they offer the Samsung Galaxy SII for $485, which is a very popular and well-made phone–the savings in monthly bills quickly recoup the extra up-front costs. This is because Ting only charges you for what you actually use. You initially customize your plan (XS to XXL, like clothing sizes) based on how many minutes, texts, and data you want per month. For example, the small plan (“S”) is $3 for 100 minutes, $3 for 1oo texts, and $3 for 100 megabytes of data, whereas the XXL plan is $54 for 3,000 minutes, $14 for 6,000 texts, and $60 for 3,000 megabytes of data. Based on my wife’s and my monthly usage, we could get by with the Medium minute plan ($9 for 500 minutes), the Large text plan ($8 for 2,000 texts), and the Large data plan ($24 for 1,000 megabytes of data). Total monthly cost would be $53 per month, including $6 per active phone device. And the kicker is my wife and I would share every bit of the plan, so we could both have smartphones whereas on Verizon we would both have to pay $29.99 per month for 2GB of data. That’s $92 of savings per month, which totals $2,208 of savings when compared with another two-year Verizon contract. Even if my wife and I both got the top-of-the-line phone on Ting (i.e., the Samsung Galaxy SII), it would take us less than 11 months to recoup the up-front costs, and thereafter would have complete savings.
So, our projected monthly bill is $53 per month; however, Ting only charges you for actual use. That means that if you go over your plan you just get bumped up to the next payment tier instead of tacking on expensive overage charges, and if you use less than your selected plan Ting actually credits your next monthly bill with the difference based on the lower tier that your usage actually fell into.
Now let’s tally the pros: monthly savings (check); good phones (check); good customer service (check–according to Ting, you’ll always talk to a real person rather than an automated message or menu system).
Possible cons: Ting runs off the Sprint 3G and 4G WiMAX network. For some, this could be a problem. Sprint is more widely covered on the East Coast, but for someone like myself who lives in the Pacific Northwest and frequents the Hawaiian islands, Sprint coverage is sparse. That said, Sprint and Ting users in my area haven’t reported any problems with coverage, so in the end it may just be up to you: do you want to continue paying out the nose at one of the big four carriers, or do you want to start saving money?
(May is Dump Your Contract Month at Ting, which means they’ll pay your contract cancellation fee if you win a daily drawing. For other ideas to nix your early cancellation fee, check out this article from Lifehacker.)
If you’re a Ting or Sprint user, share your experience in the comments below. Everyone else, let us know your reasons for sticking with your carrier or leaving.