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Update: No Longer Available - RingPlus Launches Free Ad Supported Mobile Service

Update. Well that didn't last long! As of 12:01 AM 8/27/2013, the RingPlus free ad-supported plan is no longer available to new users.  At 10:46 PM PDT. the RingPlus Twitter account posted:

Promo for free 300 min & 50 text/mo plan finishes @12:01AM 8/27 PST. Next promo starts within one week. Follow here for next promo hour!

RingPlus, which briefly offered free ad-supported international calling in 2009 is back. They are now a Sprint MVNO with a number of plans including a $49/month Unlimited Ultra Plan that includes the typical unlimited voice, messaging and 1GB of data. But what makes RingPlus interesting is its brand new free ad-supported plan.

Customers who activate their own Sprint compatible phone online get 300 minutes or 50 SMS text messages per month free of charge in return for listening to advertising messages. The ads play during the time between when a call is placed and the called party or voicemail answers. 

If you use more than the allotted free 300 minutes or 50 texts, overage is 2¢ per minute or text. Data is also available, although the RingPlus press release announcing the ad-supported plan is unclear on its pricing which it says is "2¢ per... data". Hopefully they mean 2¢/MB.

All Sprint phones that aren't currently active on Sprint or another Sprint MVNO are supposed to be eligible with the exception of iPhones. According to the press release, the free plan is only available to a "limited" number customers.

The free plan isn't listed on the main RingPlus Plans page. To get it, go to https://my.ringplus.net/device_validation_requests/new and enter your phone's ESN. If your device is eligible you can create an account and activate your phone immediately. To get the free plan choose "BYOSD" from the plan drop down. A valid email address and a credit or debit card number (for overages) is required. 

RingPlus sounds promising, but the service is brand new and there do seem to be some startup issues. Among several Howard Forums users who were brave enough to give this unknown company their credit cards, all but one reported being unable to complete the activation process. The RingPlus CEO replied to the forum thread and said that they were working on the activation issues. In the meantime, registered users can now see manual programming information (phone number and MSID) when they log in.

The one person on HowardForums who did get activated found that voice and messaging and the pre-call ads did work but data did not.  

Hopefully RingPlus will get the kinks out. I don't know if free ad supported mobile is a viable business model but I applaud RingPlus for pioneering it.

Update 8/27/2013: before the free plan promotion ended, a number of users here and on HowardForuns where able to get phones activated on the ad-supported plan although data isn't working. Interestingly, there were several reports of successful activation of Virgin and Boost Mobile phones. Previously Sprint didn't allow MVNOs to activate Boost and Virgin devices. I wonder if Sprint has changed that policy? Unfortunately, I think it's more likely that the Boost and Virgin activations were a glitch that wasn't supposed to happen and the promo was ended  until that loophole was closed.

23 comments:

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  1. A Blackberry Pearl that had been on PlatinumTel was activated without issue. Knowing the phone's MSL code, I was able to manually program the MDM and MSID numbers provided by RingPlus in the CDMA Service Edit Screen. Calls and texts work fine. The website tracks minutes and texts only - so data does not appear to be available at this time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Incoming and outgoing unanswered calls are counted as minutes used. I got spammed in less than an hour. The call was rejected, but showed up in the log.

      Delete
  2. My ESN made it by the pre-screening, but when I tried to activate I kept getting the message "Device service area could not be found, be sure your billing address is correct (CSA not available)."

    So it was a waste of time for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I activated and programmed a former Ptel/Boost phone with no problems. This phone can OTA program, but it did not work. I used the MSL code. Data does not work - I need to find the APN.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Once I reset the phone (per their instructions) the OTA programming worked. Data did not work. Tech support told me that to use data, all I have to do is add money to my account and wait 2 days. I do not need to change any of my phone settings to use data. There is no minimum $ to add for data, and the balance does not expire. 2c/mb is an excellent deal for paygo data. I am going to try this.

      Delete
    2. Technical support told me that they are waiting for Sprint to flip a switch (check a box) to turn on data for the byosd customers who added money to their accounts. He says it should have been done by now, but that Sprint is expected to turn on data by tomorrow or the next day. He offered to refund my money, but I will wait and give them a chance.

      Delete
    3. Data is still not working on the Ringplus BYOSD plan.

      Delete
  4. I was also able to activate a flip phone that had been on Ptel CDMA that used to be a Boost phone. When I reset the phone, hands-free programming worked fine but the data service did not start. I have not added money to my account for data. Calls and sms work fine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My Sprint Moto K1 activated but I had to manually program it because it does not do over the air for changing the phone numbers. I can talk and text on it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My old Platinumtel Incognito activated after I reset it. The over air programming fails if you do not do that. Calling and texting work.

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  7. Don't even try to activate a phone if you do not have the MSL code. It will not work, and you will have to ask them by email to release your ESN.

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  8. I'm not so sure about this one. The dotcom days are fresh in my mind and the whole ad supported model doesn't sit well with me. I'd sooner just pay for service - in the end, it's a whole lot easier.

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  9. I just noticed that after you activate the phone and get your number, Ringplus gives you the unlock code so you can reset it. Click on the link under your phone description in the main account page.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My Ptel Samsung Intercept worked, had to manually program the MDN and MSID values.

    How ironic that Ptel made us buy new phones and switch to GSM.

    Don't talk that much on my cell, so the biggest problem I have with Ptel is, I can't use up all my balance before the 1 yr is up and I loose it.

    Most likely I will switch to Lyca and/or H2o when I use up the $40 top-ups I got for $20.

    Don't think I will bank on the free calling with RingPlus will last.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We have to invent a new term for this plan. I don't like 'Freemium.'
    How about FreeGo. Free as you go. At least for the 300+50.
    FreedomPoP says they will start free service soon, too. Of course, with them, you pay if you snooze or sneeze.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I tried to activate the free service and it's no longer available.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Their twitter account says free service activations will open up again in a week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the heads up...

      Delete
  14. The 2c/min, sms, mb plan is still available from RingPlus. It compares well with Ting, Kajeet, Virgin PayLo $20 and Total Call $20 monthly plans. It has lower rates than any paygo plan on any network. For moderate use, a combined total of 1250 minutes, sms or mb per month, it is a good buy at $25.
    And you don't have to listen to ads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually that's new pricing for the RingPlus $25 plan. The same plan was 4¢/minute, text or MB last week.

      It is a good deal provided you can use $25 worth of service per month. It's an even better deal if unused credit rolls over. There's no indication on the site if it does or not.

      Are you using that plan with a WiMAX or LTE capable phone? If you are does 4G work?

      Delete
  15. A bug in the ringplus system charges 2 min for unanswered incoming calls, whether it went to voicemail or not.

    Until this bug is fixed, it's probably not a good idea to add ringplus to your Google Voice account.

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    Replies
    1. Is this a bug, or a Ringplus feature?
      I got an email today with a voice recording of my voicemail message. They list the duration of this unanswered call as 1 minute. I cannot tell from my account whether this will come out of my 300 minutes or not.
      Did Ringplus tell you they charge for voicemail mesages?

      Delete
    2. I spoke to tech support. You are NOT charged while you hear the commercials on the BYOSD plan. Once voicemail picks up, Sprint charges Ringplus and they will charge us. They are in the process of adding a recording before voicemail picks up to ask whether people want to leave a voicemail. If they say no or hang up, we will not be charged.

      Delete
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