Yesterday, Sprint freemium MVNO RingPlus notified its users that Sprint is threatening to shut off RingPlus service for non-payment next Saturday, February 11 at 5 PM CT. RingPlus has filed a lawsuit against Sprint charging Sprint with fraud and seeking to avert or delay the shutdown. I'm not an attorney but I doubt that RingPlus' suit will succeed. If you have a phone number with RingPlus that you want to keep, the time to port that number is now. So what service should you port to? Here are my recommendations:
Google Voice: To avoid having to scramble to save your number in future mobile operator shutdowns, port your number to Google Voice. It lets you forward your number to up to six phones and provides visual voicemail, voicemail transcription, voicemail to email and many other features. Downsides of Google Voice are that there's a one time $20 fee to port to it and that not all numbers can be ported. RingPlus numbers are real Sprint mobile phone numbers so most should be portable to RingPlus. Instructions for porting to Google Voice.
Another Sprint MVNO: Porting to a Sprint MVNO has the advantage of saving your number and, in most cases, it also lets you keep using the same phone and SIM you used on RingPlus. You can check if your RingPlus phone can be activated on any Sprint MVNO using the Ting or Tello MEID checkers. It looks like Sprint as loosened up its financial eligibility requirements for used Boost and Virgin Mobile phones. I just checked four old Boost phones that used to fail Ting's checker and they all passed.
There are lots of Sprint MVNOs, see our Sprint and Sprint MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared post for a comparison of most of them. If you are looking for a low cost operator, and I suspect most RingPlus users are, Tello Pay as You Go looks like a good choice. There's no activation fee, a $5 top up gets you started, calls are 3¢/each, texts are a penny and data is 2¢/MB. Tello airtime never expires as long as you make or receive a call or use some data at least once every 180 days. Not all Sprint MVNOs can activate a phone that's active on an other operator as part of the port process but Tello and Ting are two that say they can.
Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile: If your phone started life as a Boost or Virgin phone you should be able to port your number to Boost or Virgin and your phone should work. Boost and Virgin plans start at $35 a month so they are probably a little pricey for the average RingPlus user. On the other hand, if you need lots of data Virgin's 5 GB for $35/month or Boost's unlimited data for $50 olans are hard to beat
A non-Sprint based operator: You can save your number by porting to any operator. However, unless you are using a universal phone like a Nexus or recent unlocked iPhone, your current phone won't work. You will also have to get a SIM for the carrier you want to port to. Sell our Updated: The Best US Prepaid Phone Plans For Data Users and Updated: The Best U.S. Prepaid Talk and Text Only Deals posts for our top value picks among all carriers on all networks. MetroPCS and Cricket stores are both offering free phones for port-ins so either could be a good choice if their plans work for you.
If you don't care about your RingPlus number but want to be sure your phone is released for use on another Sprint based operator, the safest way to to guarantee that is to port your number. Porting to any carrier or to Google Voice will release your number. There are other options for releasing your number but they all have an element of uncertainty:
Cancel your RingPlus line: Cancelling will release your phone, but users who have tried say that sometimes it can take hours before the phone is available for activation on another MVNO. You can cancel on your RingPlus dashboard by choosing Manage Plan and Add-Ons and then choosing Cancel this plan.
Swap a different device on to your account: If you have an old or broken Sprint phone laying around that you care if it's never released for activation, you can try swapping it on to your account using the Swap Device option on your RingPlus Dashboard. If you get an error, keep trying it, the RingPlus servers are overloaded.
Swap to a dummy MEID. GPZ1100 on Howard Forums claims that you can release your phone by swapping to a dummy MEID that's your phone's real MEID with the last digit changed.
Do nothing and hope that your phone will automatically be released when RingPlus shuts down. Easy but risky.
Special Offers for RingPlus users:
RingPlus, Sprint and Ting have reached an agreement that to migrate RingPlus users to Ting.
The migration is optional, but if you do it Ting will give you a $35 account credit immediately. If you had RingPlus account balance greater than $35 on Feb 5, Ting will give you an additional $5 per month credit until you have received a total credit equal to your RingPlus balance. This offer also covers users who have already started ports to Ting.
If you want to take advantage of Ting's offer, Ting is recommending that you wait until they contact you, although you can still do a manual port to Ting and get the offer. Ting says they have an automatic process that will make migration the seamless and should prevent a lapse in service. When the migration occurs all you will have to do is to agree to Ting's terms of service agreement and provide Ting with your credit or debit card details. For more information regarding Ting's offer please visit ringtoting.com and see this RingPlus Forum post. For more about Ting see our Prepaid Operator Profile: Ting.
If you don't like Ting's pricing or their offer you can still port to a different operator. It looks like Sprint, RingPlus and Ting have a deal to keep service active beyond Feb 11, probably until sometime next week. If you don't want to migrate to Ting, at some point you will need to opt-out of the migration if you haven't already ported to a different operator. The opt out date and opt out process haven't been published yet but I will update this post when I get the details.
Tello is offering a 30% discount off their first month of service to customers who port from RingPlus to Tello. See this press release for details and porting instructions.
FreedomPop is waiving their normal $20 Sprint BYOP activation fee if you activate through this link. FreedomPop doesn't accept ports from RingPlus so you will need to choose a new number. Also be sure your phone is released from RingPlus before trying to activate on FreedomPop. This offer is open to all, not just RingPlus users.
Updated 2/6/17 8:15 PM with details of the Ting migration and offer.