MVNO Ting to reach breakeven in Q4; 40-50% of new customers are BYOD

LAS VEGAS--A top Ting executive said that around 40-50 percent of the MVNO's new customers are coming through its newly launched bring-your-own-device program. And separately, the CEO of Ting's parent company, Tucows, announced that Ting would "cross over the breakeven threshold" in the fourth quarter of this year.

The news indicates Ting--which is one of a wide number of new MVNOs to launch in recent months--continues to gain traction as it battles the nation's Tier 1 carriers including Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). and AT&T Mobility. Ting, a Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO, sets itself apart by offering minutes, text messages and data in different buckets that can be shared among 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.

During a meeting at the CTIA Wireless trade show, Ting Director Scott Allan said the MVNO's BYOD program, which it announced late last year and commercially launched early this year, has been "super successful for us." The program, launched by Sprint and implemented by Ting, allows customers to bring almost any existing Sprint device onto Ting's platform. Allan said Ting has ported over "hundreds" of Sprint phones.

"I'm happy with our decision to go with Sprint," Allan said. "Sprint really does its best to be wholesale friendly."

Separately, during Tucows' recent first quarter earnings conference call, CEO Elliot Noss said that "Ting is clearly a success." According to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call, Noss said Tucows' Ting business cost $2 million to launch and operate in 2012, and that that figure would increase this year. However, he said Ting's expenses likely would begin to decrease starting in the second quarter of this year. Noss said that "by the end of this year, we expect Ting to be the second largest business unit inside of Tucows," and that it will be a "meaningful contributor in 2014" to both revenues and gross margin dollars.

"Ting is meeting our lofty expectations," said Noss, who did not disclose Ting's customer numbers.

As for Ting's plans for the future, Allan said the company is considering removing the requirement that new customers make a deposit first in order to launch their Ting service. He said customers are often confused when money from the deposit is routed back to them when they use less Ting service than they expected--thus, removing the deposit requirement could reduce calls to Ting customer service, he said.

Allan also said Ting is working to launch an improved coverage map that he said would give potential customers a better idea of where and how the service would work in specific areas. Allan declined to provide additional details, but explained Ting is designing the new coverage maps internally and isn't planning to rely on a third-party vendor like RootMetrics.

Finally, Ting's Allan offered a candid reaction to the recent launch of Zact. Much like Ting, ItsOn's Zact is a Sprint MVNO that offers shared data and automatically bills users for only the data they use each month. "We're extremely flattered," Allan said of the similarities between Zact's and Ting's services, adding that "it's embarrassing."

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Related Articles:
Sprint MVNO Zact offers customized data plans, no overage charges
Ting sets aside $100,000 to cover ETF costs for customers who break contracts
MVNO Ting will not charge activation fee for BYOD program
Sprint MVNO Ting to launch BYOD program in Q4
Ting MVNO will vary bills based on month-to-month usage


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