MVNOing up

Ting makes it easier to connect an unlocked phone on the cheap

If you’ve got an unlocked T-Mobile or AT&T smartphone and need cheap cellular service for it, mobile virtual network operator Ting is now accepting your business.

Ting announced that its GSM network service is now in “open beta,” which means customers don’t need a invite to sign up. GSM support means that Ting is far more likely to support the devices consumers already have or want. The $9 Ting GSM SIM card allows Ting to work with most devices sold in the United States — not just with devices originally sold for GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile, but also many of the LTE smartphones from Verizon and Sprint that support T-Mobile frequencies.

You simply have to make sure the device you want to bring to Ting is unlocked. Here’s a quick guide to making that happen. If you don’t have an old device, or don’t want to buy one from a third-party retailer like Amazon or Best Buy, Ting sells new phones, including the iPhone 6.

Previously, Ting used Sprint’s networks exclusively, which restricted users to old Sprint devices. For its GSM network, Ting is buying capacity from T-Mobile, as Gigaom reported earlier this month. Ting is keeping its CDMA network around and users will be able to tap into speedy LTE data on both networks — although not on the same device at the same time. CDMA and GSM devices can share a single Ting account.

Ting is an interesting and inexpensive carrier even among MVNOs. Its pay-for-what-you-use plans don’t bundle services like data and minutes. So if you find yourself using lots of text messages but you’re always on Wi-Fi, or are a data fiend but never text, Ting could save you money by only charging for what you use.

Ting warns that its service on GSM networks is “not quite perfect yet.” It doesn’t support international roaming or international dialing, for instance, but since your device has to be unlocked if it’s on Ting, when you travel you can simply slip a local SIM card in. If you’re interested in trying Ting out, first take a look at its tool that checks if your device will work on its networks.

2 Responses to “Ting makes it easier to connect an unlocked phone on the cheap”