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Summary:

If a tiny virtual carrier like Ting can get access to such a high profile device at the same time as Verizon, AT&T or Sprint, then it’s likely many more small operators will as well.

Ting illustration MVNO
photo: Ting

Google clearly isn’t playing favorites when it comes to which carriers get its new Motorola hero phone, the Moto X. Not only does it appear that all four major U.S. carriers will get the device at launch, but small and virtual operators may not have to wait for the Android handset to trickle down.

We asked Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) using Sprint’s network, when it expects to get the Moto X. Here’s the answer we got from Michael Goldstein, VP of marketing for Ting’s parent Tucows: Almost immediately.

Since Motorola isn’t putting any barriers in the way of smaller operators offering the Moto X, Ting, as an MVNO, only needs permission from its network provider. Sprint was happy to give that permission, Goldstein said. “We will get it on or very soon after their launch,” Goldstein said via email.

Phandroid recently reported that a U.S. Cellular optimized version of the Moto X has made its way through the Federal Communications Commission. U.S. Cellular runs its own CDMA networks in small markets throughout the country, and like many of the regional players it usually has to wait on the big carriers before it gains access to a high-end device. But it looks like Google isn’t imposing any barrier to any carrier who wants to sell the device as long as they have the network to support it.

As for the other MVNOs, we’ve pinged a few that sell high-end devices but are still waiting to hear back. But any restriction on whether they can offer it will probably depend on carriers that supply their network services. Sprint historically has been very accommodating to its MVNOs, allowing Ting to sell the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One to its customers right after they came into Sprint’s stores. Other carriers like AT&T and Verizon put more restrictions on their MVNOs, often prohibiting virtual carriers from selling directly the same devices they offer.

“This represents an awesome shift for us and our customers,” Goldstein said. “For the first year or so that we were in business, we generally expected to get ‘hero devices’ like this about 3-4 months after Sprint got them. Now, with the S4, the HTC One and now this promise on the Moto X, it’s getting closer and closer to immediate. It means that customers are hardly ever choosing between the device they want and the provider they want.”

We’ve come a long way since the iPhone launched in 2007 giving AT&T a near four-year exclusive on the iconic device. Here’s to hoping Google will end the device exclusive for good.

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  1. Hooray for Ting! I just switched to the service, and they are absolutely awesome.

  2. Sprint should adopt Ting’s practices. Sprint would be better off converting completely to prepaid. That would give AT&T and Verizon headaches.

  3. Wow, very serious and normal article until right there at the end, when they unintentionally went completely ironic hilarious: “We’ve come a long way since the iPhone launched in 2007 giving AT&T a near four-year exclusive on the iconic device.” Uh…NO. We haven’t come a long way from there. We’re still exactly right there, with Ting still being completely forbidden from carrying the iPhone. Period.

    1. That was not a quote from Goldstein (Ting) but a general observation from the article writer. In his opinion new handsets will be available from more carriers sooner.

    2. Actually Tucows CEO has predicted Ting will get the iPhone soon. It may not be available on Ting but it’s available on dozens of U.S. carriers. That’s a lot more than one.

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