Product Review: Sprint Home Phone Connect 2 (SHPC2) with Ting.com
I recently purchased a SHPC2 for use with Ting.com. I am evaluating the product for use at residential locations and business locations with a single telephone line. My intention is to replace the existing “landline” at several dozen locations with the Home Phone Connect 2 while continuing to use their existing telephone handsets, so I need to be sure I thoroughly understand the capabilities and limitations of the device. I am sharing my experience here.
About the Sprint Home Phone Connect 2
The Sprint Home Phone Connect 2 (HPC2) is designed to be a replacement for existing residential or business “landline” phone service. You can connect up to two existing telephone handsets to the two ports on the back of the HPC2 (the two ports share the same phone number). The phone calls are carried over the Sprint wireless network instead of traditional landlines. When you pickup your phone, you immediately hear a dial tone and can begin dialing a 7 or 10 digit phone number. Several seconds after you stop dialing, you hear ringing. When someone calls your phone, it will ring about 5 times before going to Sprint voice mail (if you have disabled voice mail, it will ring about a dozen times before telling the caller you are unavailable). The device operates almost exactly like a traditional “landline” without relying on any type of “landline” or internet service.
Ting.com is a Sprint reseller. They do not offer “free” phones and devices. They do not offer “unlimited” plans. You buy your phone or device and then pay only for the amount of minutes, text messages, and megabytes you use. For most consumers, the Ting pricing is a bargain when compared to Sprint pricing!
Using the SHPC2 with Ting.com can be a great option for anyone wanting to save money on their home or business phone service IF you have a strong Sprint wireless signal at your home or business location. The HPC2 sends/receives all phone calls over Sprint wireless. The HPC2 does NOT use your internet connection at all, so you need to be sure you have adequate Sprint coverage. Verify coverage on the Ting (Sprint) coverage map before you proceed!
If you do not have a strong Sprint wireless signal, you should consider other options. Straight Talk (Verizon) offers a similar service for $15/mo. If you have a fast and reliable broadband connection, consider using a VoIP (Voice over IP) phone service (e.g.: Vonage) that carries your phone calls over the internet.
Sprint charges $150 for the HPC2 and $20/mo for unlimited minutes. Sprint provides a $150 rebate with a 2-year agreement. Ting charges $99 for the HPC2 and $9/mo for 100 minutes or $15/mo for 500 minutes. If you exceed your minutes, you are charged for the next tier of pricing. For example, if you signup for 100 minutes and end up using between 101 and 500 minutes, you are charged for 500 minutes ($15) that month.
NOTE: Remember how I said you pay for what you use with Ting? Well, the HPC2 uses 3G data service to check for software updates. Ting charges $3/mo for up to 100 megabytes of data. For some reason, the Ting website does not allow me to block data access for the HPC2 device. Even the Ting support person I talked to seemed surprised that the option to block data access was not available. Until they resolve this issue, budget $12/mo for 100 minutes and $18/mo for 500 minutes. Still a bargain for a residential or business phone line. If you’d like an update on this, post a comment and I will check to see if Ting has added the option to block data access for the HPC2 device.
I plan to setup all of our HPC2 devices under a single Ting.com account. I have budgeted 500 minutes per month per device, but expect the actual usage to be much lower. Suppose we install 20 devices. Our cost will be $120/mo for the device charges ($6/mo x 20) plus $192/mo for 10,000 minutes (3000 $52 + 7000 $140) plus $3/mo for 100 megabytes of data. Our total cost will be around $315/mo (plus tax) for telephone service at 20 locations, versus nearly $800/mo we are paying now. Our current business phone bills range from $30-40/mo plus additional charges for long distance and various features that are free with Ting.
Purchase and Shipping
I purchased a Sprint Home Phone Connect 2 (HPC2) device from the Ting.com website on Friday 01/18 around 2:30PM CST. The device arrived on Wednesday 01/23. My cost for the HPC2 was $99+TAX (free shipping).
Unpacking and Initial Setup
When I unpacked the Sprint Home Phone Connect 2, I had to attach the antenna, install the battery (PCD HGB-15AAX3(BTR2260B), Ni-MH AA1500mAh 3.6V), and connect the 120V power adapter. I plugged the HPC2 into the power outlet and pressed the power button to turn it on. The wireless signal indicator turned green, which meant that the HPC2 was receiving a wireless signal from Sprint.
I logged into my account at Ting.com and navigated to the devices page. I clicked the “activate” link next to the HPC2. During activation, the Ting website gave me the option to port my existing phone number to the HPC2 or setup a new phone number in my area code. I chose to setup a new phone number because I wasn’t ready to commit to moving my existing number. I was able to easily change my service address so that I received a new number in the desired area code. After activation, the Ting website showed me my new phone number. I also received an email with my new phone number.
NOTE: I chose to activate my HPC2 with a new number, but I see that I can easily change my mind. When I drill down to the HPC2 device on the Ting website, I now have an option to port an existing phone number to the device. If I port my existing phone number to the HPC2, it will replace the new number that Ting assigned to me. Ting’s number porting page specifically asks whether or not I am porting a business telephone number, and then asks for the business or residential account information so that they can begin moving the number to my Ting device. I have read elsewhere that moving a mobile number takes up to 3 days and moving a landline number takes up to 7 days. I hope the process turns out to be as simple as it appears.
I plugged my home phone into the back of the device so that I could make a few test calls yesterday. Today, Ting is showing that the HPC2 has used 8 minutes of phone time and 1 Megabyte of data transfer. My first monthly bill will be $12. That’s $6/mo for the device itself, $3/mo for up to 100 minutes, and $3/mo for up to 100 megabytes of data. (See Pricing note above regarding data charges.)
The HPC2 device supports call waiting, three-way calling, and Caller ID number. The device does NOT support Caller ID name. If your telephone supports Caller ID, it will display the caller’s phone number but it will not display their name. The SHPC2 can be configured to forward all calls to a specific number and lets you adjust call volume. The device has a voicemail indicator that lights up when you have new voicemail messages in your Sprint mailbox. You dial *98 to check your voicemail. You are able to setup a voicemail password. If your phone has a voicemail button, you can probably configure your phone to automatically dial *98 when you press the voicemail button. I chose to disable the voicemail after I was done testing it. If I call the Ting number assigned to the HPC2 while voicemail is disabled, the number rings about a dozen times before I hear a message telling me that the person is not available.
The Ting website allows you to enable/disable the following options for this device: “Voicemail”, “Can make calls”, “Can receive calls”, “Hide your Caller ID from others”, “Allow International Calling”, and “Allow International Calling (North America)”. They also allow you to configure “Forward ‘Busy Signal’ calls to this number” and “Forward ‘No Answer’ calls to this number”. You can enter different numbers for each type of forwarding. This selective call forwarding is useful if you use a separate voicemail service such as Youmail or Google Voice. Keep in mind that call forwarding also consumes your minutes.
The data charge and the lack of Caller ID name are the only surprises I have found. I have read that the SHPC2 does not support fax machines, credit card terminals, or alarm systems. It is not clear if those devices will not work at all or if that just means Sprint/Ting will not provide support if you have trouble with those devices. Those don’t affect me, but may affect some other users.
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Thanks for reading! Post any questions you may have in the comment area.