Sprint (NYSE:S) MVNO Ting, which is owned by Tucows, confirmed it is now providing service to Sprint-issued Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4 and 4S smartphones. The company described the support as a beta program, which Ting said means that it can provide the service to any new and existing customer but that it cannot promote it or market it on its website.
"So far, we are just reaching out to customers discreetly who have indicated that they were waiting to be able to use the iPhone on Ting. We also have documentation in our support section to help folks activate their iPhones," Michael Goldstein, Ting's vice president of marketing, told FierceWireless.
Goldstein said the terms of the beta program prevent Ting from advertising its support of the iPhone. "It seems like Sprint and Apple want to be sure that we are doing a good job preventing fraud and rejecting stolen devices, representing the brand respectfully and support customers well," he said.
Goldstein said that Ting is supporting all of the features of the iPhone, including visual voicemail and hotspot functions. He said Ting could only support Sprint-issued iPhones. 9to5Mac initially reported on Ting's new support for the iPhone.
9to5Mac also reported that the iPhone 5 would be supported by Ting "soon." However, Goldstein said that "we actually don't know anything about the timing of the [iPhone] 5 just yet."
On its site, Ting sells new phones and also allows customers to bring their existing Sprint phones to the Ting service. The company does not currently sell the iPhone, but Goldstein said that "we will lobby to be able to bring or sell the latest iPhones as soon as possible."
Ting is one of a large and growing number of MVNOs supported by Sprint. The fact that it is now supporting the iPhone, even as part of a "beta" program, could potentially signal the possibility that other Sprint MVNOs will be able to support the iPhone alongside other Sprint devices. Already Sprint's prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile sell the iPhone.
In August Ting reported that it has 25,000 customers and 40,000 devices at the end of the second quarter, and that the business is on track to cross the break-even threshold in the fourth quarter of this year. Ting offers minutes, text messages and data in different buckets. 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.
Tucows reports its third-quarter results Nov. 13, and will likely provide an update on Ting's progress then.
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