After a little over a year of operation, Sprint MVNO RingPlus said it now counts around 100,000 customers. And company executives said roughly 90 percent of the company’s customers subscribe to one of its free, ad-supported calling plans.
RingPlus’ primary differentiator is that it inserts advertisements into customers’ ring-back tones. So instead of hearing the “ring ring” when they call someone, RingPlus customers instead hear an advertisement. Further, they can interact with the ad while still retaining their initial call – they can press a button to receive a text message for more details about the ad, for example, or they can visit the advertisers’ website.
RingPlus executives said roughly 2.5 percent of their ads receive some kind of response, a percentage far higher than most standard internet ads.
Advertisers on the RingPlus service have included DirecTV, Candy Crush game maker King, and others. However, company executives acknowledged that most advertisers on RingPlus are obtained through aggregated advertising networks.
RingPlus launched its service in June 2015 with "content sponsored" service plans. The plans started at 200 voice minutes, 50 text messages and 10 MB of LTE data (with overages billed at two cents per each minute, text and MB).
Today, RingPlus offers a dizzying array of pricing options: More than 25 in all. The company’s free, ad-supported plans start at 100 minutes and texts and 100 MB of LTE data per month, and customers can obtain more minutes, texts and data by increasing their “auto top up.” RingPlus’ “auto top up” feature runs from $5 to $27 on its free plans, and essentially works as a deposit for service: Customers pay extra for overages or additional services. RingPlus also offers relatively standard wireless pricing options that provide, for example, unlimited calling and texting and 5 GB of high-speed LTE service for $40 per month.
The company also is working to build a community for its customers with membership options and a dedicated forum on the company’s website where customers can read news stories, browse through job postings and even sell their device through a classifieds service.
“We see our clients as members in our community,” RingPlus CEO Karl Seelig told FierceWireless.
The company’s customer base “continues to grow well,” added Jerry Mowery, the company’s general counsel.
Seelig said that RingPlus is financially stable because “we don’t have a blown-up support [customer care] system.” Seelig explained that RingPlus customers generally obtain support from each other on the company’s website. He said the company counts around 15 full time employees.
Of course, RingPlus isn’t the only MVNO working to provide free service. FreedomPop, another Sprint MVNO, also offers a free tier of service in order to entice new customers and then obtains revenues from them through the sale of additional services and options.