Sprint MVNO Ting to add support for Sprint's tri-mode LTE 'Spark' service

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Sprint (NYSE:S) MVNO Ting is launching devices with support for Sprint's tri-mode LTE service, dubbed "Spark," which Sprint itself is just getting off the ground. According to Ting, it is the first Sprint MVNO to offer support for Spark.

Ting, which is owned by Tucows, will offer the Samsung Galaxy Mega, Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, LG G2 and Netgear ZING mobile hotspot. "As far as we know we're the first Sprint MVNO to operationalize and launch [Spark]," Ting Director Scott Allan told FierceWireless.

Allan said the launch continues to show that Ting can execute quickly and offer high-quality service, and it also demonstrates "Sprint's commitment to wholesale and their good faith as partner."

Sprint has said its Spark service, which combines 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz LTE transmissions, will come to the top 100 U.S. markets during the next three years, with speeds capable of reaching 50-60 Mbps and perhaps faster thanks to carrier aggregation.

However, that relies on Sprint deploying 60 MHz of spectrum for LTE as well as new base station radio heads, which is a process that will begin in earnest next year. Sprint Spark is currently rolling out in parts of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Tampa.

"Sprint is talking a pretty aggressive game in their network vision for next year, and we want to benefit from that," Allan said. Sprint currently has six Spark-capable phones in the market and has said all of its phones next year will be tri-band LTE devices. Allan said he expects Ting will eventually get all of Sprint's Spark-capable devices.  

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said earlier this month at an investor conference that Spark is available in around 25 percent of the initial markets. "It will take a while to finish," he acknowledged. However, he said that the Spark service could continue to increase in speed in the future. He said Sprint could eventually use 60 MHz 2.5 GHz channels using carrier aggregation, since Sprint controls 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in 90 of the top 100 U.S. markets. In two years, that could produce real-world speeds of 150-180 Mbps, Hesse said.

Tucows CEO Elliott Noss said in mid-November that Ting added 11,000 accounts and 16,000 devices in the third quarter, its best quarter to-date, to bring its totals to 36,000 accounts and 56,000 devices at the end of September. Customers added 1.5 devices per account in the third quarter and Ting ended the quarter averaging 1.6 devices per account across its base.

Ting offers minutes, text messages and data in different buckets, and customers can share usage across multiple devices. If customers use more than they have paid for in a certain month, they are not charged an overage fee, but instead are bumped up to the next usage tier for that month. Likewise, if customers use less than they had thought they would need, they are bumped down to the next lowest usage tier and will receive a credit on their bill for the difference. Users can continuously monitor their usage via an online dashboard.

For more:
- see this Ting blog post

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