Ting/Sprint data service in Maryland, esp Rockville/Gaithersburg
March 1, 2015 5:14 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for info on the quality of Sprint/Ting data service in my area

A week or two ago I read about Ting on AskMeFi (probably here) and that has inspired me to join after lurking for a few years so I can ask this question. It seems Ting runs phone off Verizon if Sprint is not available, and Verizon is fine in this area, so I know that the phone signal is not a problem. But as far as I can tell from their web page, they only use Sprint for data. I am not concerned about function at home (I have wifi) but more for when out and about. So the question is: If you live, work, or spend time in the area, do you have any info on the overall quality of Sprint or Ting data service? Any specific dead zones or other problems I should be aware of? Areas of interest are Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Frederick, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Baltimore, and the routes between them (270 corridor, top part of the beltway, 95 north to Baltimore)

Background: I have a pretty good grandfathered deal with Verizon; $30/month for data like everyone else, but $25/month for 100 minutes on the phone. I would save about $20/month with Ting most months, but I will lose this deal if I transfer and will not be able to get it back, so I want to do due diligence before switching.

Bonus questions:
if I am wrong and Ting also piggybacks on Verizon (or any other service) for data as well, please let me know.
If there is some other variable-pay, pay-as-you-go or MVNO service I should consider, let me know that too.

Thank you!
posted by 2 cats in the yard to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Somewhat tangential to your specific question, but if you are thinking of bringing a Sprint device to Ting or any other MVNO, be very very careful, and make sure it passes their ESN check --- not a third party's ESN checker, but the Ting's check specifically --- first. At this very moment (I dare to hope this news will be obsolete in a month or so) Sprint is refusing to release pretty much any devices to MVNOs. I have a current Ting account, and a new (to me) phone I want to put on it, and Sprint is absolutely useless on actually clearing it.

This is fallout from new freedom-to-unlock policies implemented mid-February; Sprint has replaced their old ESN blacklists with a "Financial Eligibility Check" which is getting a lot of false positives.
posted by jackbishop at 6:17 AM on March 1, 2015

I have Sprint and get good data service in Chevy Chase and Rockville and all points in between (going up 270). I get an LTE connection in most places and 3G in others. I very rarely go farther north or west, so I can't tell you about Gaithersburg, etc. In Baltimore, I'm usually around the Hopkins campus where I've found the data service is not that great. Speeds are slow and connections get dropped a lot. It's also pretty spotty around Ellicott City and Columbia. (Not sure if this matters, but I have used an iPhone 5 and now a 6 ).
posted by bluefly at 6:18 AM on March 1, 2015

I was a Virgin Mobile (Sprint) customer for years a little south of you in VA. Generally speaking, it's fine as long as you stay within 3-5 miles of I-95, but service becomes bad very quickly as you venture away from the main roads.
posted by COD at 6:40 AM on March 1, 2015

Thanks for answering.

Jackbishop: I am on Verizon so would have to buy a new phone - but still, useful information, and an interesting article. Good luck getting your phone transferred!

Bluefly: Thanks, that covers some of where I go but unfortunately not all.

COD: I don't get down to VA very often, but it might be similar on the MD side of DC as well.

If anyone else has info heading up 270 north of Rockville, that would be great.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 4:15 PM on March 1, 2015

I have Sprint and I have consistent LTE (very occasionally goes to 3G) in Rockville, Bethesda, Silver Spring, and the routes in between. Same for going up to B'more and Columbia on either 95 or via 29. Sorry, I don't have a lot of experience north of Rockville though the times I've visited Frederick I didn't notice anything significant signal-wise. I am not sure how Verizon speeds compare to Sprint, but sometimes it does seem Sprint is slower than my work phone which is AT&T (even when both say they are on LTE)
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:06 PM on March 1, 2015

Go here. Users of their app send data on signal quality, so any places that are blank may simply be places where the app users haven't visited.
posted by herrdoktor at 7:12 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks NikitaNikita and herrdoktor. In particular, that map is great, and also useful for others with similar questions in other areas.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 4:32 AM on March 2, 2015

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