When I moved back to the United States and had to acquire cell phone service, I had two requirements: I had to be able to bring my own device, and I would not sign a service contract. I had an unlocked iPhone 4S and had been using a pay-as-you-go service (Lebara, if you’re interested) in the UK. I purchased a SIM card for £1, activated it and was able to choose whether to pay-as-you-go or pay for a monthly plan with a set limit on minutes, SMS (texts) and mobile data. Every month, I would purchase a £10 (about $16 US) Lebara service voucher with my groceries at Tesco, and top up my phone on the bus ride home.
After a little bit of searching, I found Ting, a Tucows company. (Yeah, that Tucows.) With Ting, your monthly bill is based on how many minutes, texts and mobile data you consume, plus a $6 fee for every active device on your account. Service is sorted into “small”, “medium”, and “large” caps (you can see a rate table here.) I generally use a “small” amount of minutes and texts per month, and a “medium” amount of data. My bill is generally $30 or less, and I’ve set it to automatically deducts from my checking account. Here’s a snapshot of my account dashboard showing what I’ve used this billing cycle:
Ting piggybacks on the Sprint network, and I am rarely out of the service. The only time I couldn’t get anything more than an emergency-only signal was when I was driving through very rural areas of Ohio. That isn’t a regular occurrence for me, so I wasn’t concerned, but check on coverage before signing up if you live in cow country. Ting is also the first North American carrier to offer service across both GSM and CDMA networks–I have a Ting GSM SIM in the LG Google Nexus 4 I’m currently using.
I like that I can switch phones at any time, that I own my phone outright, and that I’m not locked into a years-long service contract. You can bring your own device (check the MEID/IMEI to see if it will work with Ting here) or purchase a new or refurbished phone directly from Ting.
If you’d like to try Ting for yourself, head over to their website and click through the wicked-easy activation process. Oh, and to spread the love–use my personal referral link to get $25 a device purchase, or $25 in Ting credit.