Sprint MVNO Ting to launch BYOD program in Q4

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO Ting will launch a bring-your-own-device program in the fourth quarter that will allow customers to bring any Sprint device onto Ting's service rather than buying a new phone with Ting. As a prepaid MVNO, Ting charges full price for its devices since it does not subsidize them.

For customers to participate in the program, they must have a supported Sprint device that is not under contract, or they must pay Sprint's early termination fee to get out of their contract. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry devices and certain push-to-talk devices will not be eligible, but Ting said the final list of eligible devices has not been finalized.

Ting also noted that the reverse of its new policy is also true: Ting customers can decide to switch their Ting phone over to Sprint service. "This BYOD development makes the leap of faith more of a hop and people are more likely to give us a chance when Sprint is there as a fall-back plan," Ting's Andrew Moore-Crispin wrote in a company blog post. "We're sure that once mobile users get a taste of 'mobile that makes sense,' they'll have no desire to leave. That said, it's the safety net that some people need."

Ting, an MVNO run by Internet domain company Tucows, launched service in February with Sprint's CDMA network and Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. Ting also plans to take advantage of Sprint's nascent LTE network. The MVNO 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.

So far Ting has not disclosed how many customers it has, but Ting CEO Elliot Noss told AllThingsD that the number is not large enough to be material to parent company Tucows. "Things have been very good for us," Noss said, adding that Ting customers produce $100 to $150 per year in profits. "We're very pleased."

Importantly, Ting also lets customers have multiple phones under one account and share pools of minutes, text messages and data. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) recently reformatted its pricing plans around shared data, and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) just launched shared data plans as well.

Ting said in July it would like to carry the iPhone but that likely would not happen in the near future. However, Ting plans to beef up its smartphone lineup. The company said in June it expects to release a number of LTE devices "sooner than later," including the LG Viper 4G LTE, the LG Optimus Elite and HTC Evo 4G LTE. Later on, the company said it expects to sell the Samsung Galaxy S III, and possibly the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as well.

For more:
- see this Ting blog post
- see this AllThingsD article

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