Alternative to Ting in the USA

Now that our promotional credits with Ting here in the USA have run out, those of you who only make a small number of calls and/or texts each month may benefit from switching to a different plan (but still using the T-Mobile UMTS signal). The plan I’ve switched to is Ultra Mobile PayGo (

Ting charges $6/month for the account, plus $3/month for the first 100 minutes, plus $3./month for the first 100 texts, plus no fewer than 6 taxes and fees, for a total of more than $16 each month. This gets you up to 100 calls and 100 texts.

If you typically use fewer minutes and/or texts in a month, PayGo may be a better choice. They charge $0.10 per minute and $0.10 per text, with a minimum of $3.00 (30 minutes or texts in any combination). Furthermore, they only charge one tax (state sales tax) and no fees. The SIM card costs (one-time charge) $10.00 at a T-Mobile store (actually $13.00 because 30 minutes/texts are included).

Thus, if you only use about 60 combined minutes/texts per month, your monthly bill would be only $6.00 plus state sales tax, a saving of ~$10.00 over Ting. This economy is because PayGo lumps talk minutes and texts into the same category, while Ting charges separately for talk and text and has a base fee just for having the account.

Since PayGo uses the T-Mobile UMTS network just like Ting (or GSM if you’re successfully running with 2G), there is no difference in coverage or signal strength vs. Ting.

One last advantage of PayGo: if you simply do not pay at the end of a month, your service goes dormant for up to 3 months without losing your account/number. This way you can use your cellular service intermittently.

This is just a thought for you to ponder. My Makerphone is in no way my primary cell phone, so for me PayGo is just more economical for my limited usage.


2G isn’t supported here anymore. I think Ting found a way to use 2G through other services. I called support with multiple carriers who all said it’s impossible to get 3G anymore.

@frankprindle Wow Frank, thank you for such detailed guide to saving some money! :smiley:

@8bitRobot Are you sure that there are no more networks working on 2G? Has Ting completely shut down its 2G services?

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Ting said the exact opposite to what the carriers said here. They said that they were offering what other carriers did, but somehow they were getting 2G. Even though carriers I checked said they didn’t support it anymore or stopping using 2G last year. No one is paid to know anything?
I didn’t know anything about phones until Makerphone…

To clarify, T-Mobile won’t say they’re offering 2G (GSM), but the signals are still there. Ting capitalizes on that and runs off of the T-Mobile 2G (GSM) signal. However, T-Mobile has reduced the available 2G bandwidth per tower to almost nothing, which means if you can connect with 2G at all, it will most likely be a weak signal from a more distant tower. I have seen Ting 2G pop up to a reasonable signal strength for up to a minute, but then somebody else hops onto that signal for a call, and it’s gone. They are providing this minimal service to support IoT, where inexpensive small devices need intermittent short access to 2G; it isn’t really meant for voice but Ting would have you believe it is… T-Mobile is effectively telling the truth. Ting is also telling the truth, but not the whole truth; they can get you 2G but you won’t like it.

T-Mobile’s (and thus Ting’s and Ultra Mobile’s) UMTS is much better. Though still in the 1900 MHz band, it will support many more simultaneous connections per tower. It is technically 3G, so there is no telling when T-Mobile will pull its plug too. The MakerPhone 2G module can’t utilize UMTS, it’s stuck with the lousy GSM.

As far as 4G LTE goes, I think the jury’s still out on VoLTE and the MakerPhone with 4G. If it could do VoLTE, why would it chose the inferior UMTS signal? OTOH, Circuitmess says VoLTE has been tested and is known to work, at least in some countries.

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@frankprindle @8bitRobot

2G is “squishy” in the USA and we do not recommend our users using it. It really depends on where you’re located and the signal is flakey across certain regions of the country.

In our Kickstarter campaign, we were allowing users to buy either a 2G or a 4G version of the phone and that led many people in the USA to buy a 2G phone that is not working properly in that country.

We are not giving our users that option anymore and are shipping all the phones to the USA with the SIM7600 module that supports 4G and 3G.

If you have a 2G phone in the USA and the phone is not working correctly, please get in touch with me via direct messages or and I’ll help you work this out so that your MAKERphone actually can work like a proper mobile phone.


About the VoLTE question - we’ve been testing it and it was working successfully in the US and several other countries, but Frank’s test is showing something weird happening with his phone because it’s connecting to 3G when making a voice call.
We will inspect on this further, but in the meantime, Frank’s phone will be able to make calls normally using the 3G network.

Thank you everyone for your understanding and patience

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