Sprint MVNO Ting says it will build 1 Gbps fiber Internet service starting in Charlottesville

Ting, which currently operates as a mobile virtual network operator of Sprint (NYSE:S), said it purchased a majority stake in a small, independent Internet service provider (ISP) in Charlottesville, Va., called Blue Ridge InternetWorks (BRI). "Just like that, we're starting our new mission to bring the things that people love about Ting for mobile to the world of fixed access," the company said.

Much like Google is doing with its Google Fiber project, Ting said it plans to offer 1 Gbps service in Charlottesville and may expand to additional cities based on customer demand--the company is asking customers to make requests for Ting Internet. "Let us know if you'd like Ting gigabit (read: Crazy fast) fiber optic Internet access where you live," the company said on its website. "We can't promise we'll break ground tomorrow, but we can promise we're listening."

"We admire what Google is doing with and for gigabit fiber Internet access, but for the Internet giant, access is more of a side project. Also, Google is a lot of great things but human scale isn't one of them," Ting wrote, noting it will support open Internet and net neutrality principles, and will offer "a hands-on approach to customer service."

The Washington Post reported Ting will provide service at around $100 a month, and expects to hook up around 12,000 homes in Charlottesville beginning in the first quarter of next year. 

Fiber Internet is Ting's latest strategic action. The company earlier this month said it is adding support for GSM service and will launch SIM cards that can be used in unlocked GSM phones. Although Ting is not saying which U.S. GSM carrier it is working with, a coverage map provided by the company of its GSM partner indicates that it will be partnering with T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

In the third quarter, Ting's parent Tucows announced it added roughly 11,000 Ting accounts and 17,000 devices, which the company said was a 15 percent increase in its Ting customer base. According to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the company's conference call with investors, Tucows noted the growth rate was slightly slower than it has posted in previous quarters, which Tucows executives said may be due to the poor perception of Sprint's network as well as the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus during the quarter, devices that Ting does not yet support.

Overall, Ting ended the third quarter with 82,000 customers with 130,000 devices. Ting customers spent roughly $35 a month on their phone bills, and Ting's growth margins during the quarter were between 45 and 50 percent. Ting said it spent around $100 on average during the quarter to acquire a customer.

Finally, Tucows said it expects to add around 16,000 new Ting customers per quarter.

For more:
- see this Ting post
- see this Washington Post article
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript

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