Virgin Mobile, a no-contract cell service provider, cancelled my service. Not because I didn’t pay, not because my card expired or I abused my service. No, my service was cancelled because I needed to accept their new Terms & Conditions, and I didn’t do that in time because I had no idea it was something I needed to do.
Enter a 6 month period of very spiteful no cell service.
I was thankfully able to stay “dormant” due to Google Voice and Google Hangouts. I’ve used these roughly interchangeable services for 5+ years. Google Voice issues users a phone number that acts something like a hub. Giving a GV number out to people allows you to route calls and texts to any phone that is registered under that number. It also provides extra control, like number blocking, personalized voicemail and other neat features.
Google Hangouts, when paired with Google Voice, enables Wi-Fi calling and receiving.
So not only did I not need Virgin Mobile, I didn’t really need a traditional cell phone. I had Wi-Fi at home, Wi-Fi at work, friend’s houses, restaurants, etc… I would essentially ask for Wi-Fi passwords with every meal. And, as far as driving/walking without cell service, well, I managed to live without it.
Enter the TEASE of Project Fi.
Project Fi is Google’s cell service, and given that I’m so entrenched within Google’s network, I had no reason not to be excited. Except…I’ve become shrewd in my cell-hermit ways. There are things I’ve learned to live without, and thus, do not want.
The basics of Project Fi is that you pay for the data you use. If you register for a plan that allows for 3 GB, where you would be charged $30 USD, but you only use 1.7 GBs of that data, then you are credited the difference. All of the Project Fi phones (the Nexus 6, 5p, 6x) automatically access open Wi-Fi networks to keep you off of your cell data as much as possible, so the costs can become very reasonable.
The issue is that there’s a mandatory $20 monthly fee for talk and text, something I literally do not need and was upset that I would have to pay on top of having to buy a new $500 dollar phone. The whole service became incredibly unattractive from a cost standpoint.
Ting is like a reflected image of Project Fi. With Ting, talk, text, and data are all separate categories. But rather than paying in advance for what you use, like Fi, your cost scales with how much you use. After a $6 access fee (because you can most likely use your own GSM/CDMA phone), everything in terms of usage is up to you.
If I were to use anywhere from 1-100 MB of data, Ting would charge me $3 for data for that month. Once that 100 MB threshold is passed, I start to pay more for each new tier/level I enter. Here’s a breakdown of the cost structure.
The yellow squares are what I shoot for each month: 0 Calls, 0 Text, and 501-1000 MB of Data for a $25 bill plus taxes, and because all of my calling is Wi-Fi (aka data) calling, it’s super easy to keep track of my data usage, since everything I do is over Ting’s great, Sprint backed 4G LTE service, or Wi-Fi. If I am ever in need of their calling or texting platform, those are backed by both Sprint and T-Mobile.
Ting allows for a fantastic amount of service control. From caps on usage, to straight-up blocking specific portions of service, Ting’s promise of only paying for what you use is very easy to fulfill.
One issue I ran into, which in my specific situation was monumentally frustrating, was that I received one random text each month. These horrible people cost me $6 total. When I’m trying to micro-manage my service, these kinds of things that usually go unnoticed, become problems.
Once I discovered these shut-off switches in the app, I haven’t received any wayward calls or texts, with one exception that was technically my fault.
I really really like Ting. It gives me the power and freedom of an always connected device, but rewards me with savings for going out of my way to find new Wi-Fi networks. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those paying too much for cell service they rarely use, or those connected to Wi-Fi for most of their day.
For my first month of Ting, I payed absolutely nothing for my service due to a referral link. It gave me $25 dollars off and was a great incentive for me to give the service a try. Use it for yourself and receive the same discount!
If you’ve tried Ting, or are considering switching from your current cell service, feel free to reach out to me in the comments, or through my twitter handle @mattcarterwa to share your thoughts. I’m always looking to help others save money.