The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of a number of LTE phones now available from Ting.
Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) MVNO Ting has started selling a handful of smartphones that run on Sprint's growing LTE network, becoming the first U.S. MVNO to offer LTE service.
Ting has started selling the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC Evo 4G LTE and Motorola Mobility Photon Q 4G LTE, three of Sprint's premier LTE smartphones. Since Ting is a no-contract prepaid carrier, all three of the devices are unsubsidized and cost above $500.
The MVNO, which is run by Internet domain company Tucows, launched service in February with Sprint's CDMA network and Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. However, Ting promised in June to launch devices that could support Sprint's LTE network, which the nation's No. 3 carrier launched in mid-July and which it expects to expand to 123 million POPs by year-end.
Now, Ting is at the forefront in offering both new, high-end smartphones and network technology. "All of the market trends we're talking about today are allowing us to be competitive at the high-end," Tucows CEO Elliot Noss told GigaOM. "The reason we're first is because of our nature as an Internet company. We're just more used to moving quickly."
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.
So far Ting has not disclosed how many customers it has, but Noss recently told AllThingsD that the number is not large enough to be material to 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."
Of course, Ting won't be the only Sprint MVNO using its nascent LTE network. FreedomPop, which has a deal with Clearwire, said in July that it will resell service on Sprint's CDMA and forthcoming LTE networks by year-end. Earlier this year Matt Carter, the head of Sprint's wholesale and machine-to-machine units, said Sprint was working on at least 10 wholesale LTE deals, ranging from MVNOs to CLECs that want wireless service.
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