By Joe Paonessa Feb 4, 2017
It looks like subscribers of the Sprint MVNO Ringplus will have to find a new MVNO provider. Ringplus sent out a notice to its subscribers yesterday that it will be forced to cease operations on February 11th, 2017 as Sprint intends to cut off services at that point to the MVNO and its subscribers. Thank you to website readers and family who forwarded the following email over to me:
Notice Ringplus Sent To Subscribers
IMPORTANT information about
your phone service
ABOUT YOUR SERVICE
As many of you know, RingPlus operates on the Sprint network.
SPRINT HAS NOTIFIED RINGPLUS THAT IT PLANS TO STOP ALL SERVICES TO RINGPLUS AND ITS SUBSCRIBERS ON FEBRUARY 11, 2017 AT 5:00 PM CENTRAL DAYLIGHT TIME.
RingPlus has an open line of communication with Sprint regarding this issue. RingPlus has requested that Sprint give us all 30 days before service is turned off to allow you more time to find another wireless provider.
If Sprint does not agree, RingPlus will file a motion with the court for an injunction to prevent Sprint from stopping service on February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm Central Daylight Time.
As many of you know, RingPlus has sued Sprint. The lawsuit is public information. You can access public documents through a variety of online sources such as PACER (https://www.pacer.gov/). While it is not RingPlus’ policy to discuss ongoing litigation, we feel you have a right to know.
What this means for you:
As of the time of this Notice, Sprint plans to turn off all service to you and RingPlus on February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm Central Daylight Time. (As noted above, RingPlus is trying to get that to be 30 days.) Your phone service will stop. You will not be able to use your RingPlus services including cellular talk, text or data. If you would like to keep your phone number, you would need to move it to another wireless provider before February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm Central Daylight Time (i.e., port out your number).
RingPlus will update you about major developments, and provide you links to other wireless providers that would happy to serve you in future.
RingPlusCopyright © 2017 Ring Plus, Inc., All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up for wireless service at https://ringplus.net, and we have important information about your service.
Our mailing address is:
Ring Plus, Inc.
468 N. Camden Dr., 2nd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
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Ringplus hasn't taken Sprints actions lightly and as mentioned in the email it is in fact filing a lawsuit against the carrier. In doing so, Ringplus has publicly aired quite a bit of Sprint's dirty laundry, and if you've followed Sprint in the news over the past few years, you'll know that this isn't the first time Sprint has tried to stick it to it's MVNO partners to its own detriment1)source 1, source 2. Of course after reading through the lawsuit, which you can download here, or via the official pacer.gov website for a small fee, you can get a better understanding of Ringplus's business practices and where it made its mistakes as well.
The lawsuit basically tells us that over the past couple of years, Ringplus thought it was working closely with Sprint as its co-investor for technology to help bring free and low cost phone plans to the masses. Ringplus entered into an agreement with Sprint that it could grow to 2.7 million subscribers over a period of 18 months through low cost marketing and advertiser sponsored phone plans. Ringplus failed to reach the subscriber mark by a substantial margin as it reports in the lawsuit to only have 90,000 subscribers. The MVNO is blaming Sprint for this shortfall, and that's where this lawsuit gets juicy in my eyes and pretty damning of Sprints business practice if what is said in the lawsuit is proven true.
Perhaps the most damning part of the lawsuit is that for a couple of years Sprint was well aware of the in call delay that many Ringplus subscribers experienced while subscribing to the service, yet Sprint denied the problem claiming it was a Ringplus issue and thus forced the MVNO to spend large sums of money to try and fix a problem it wasn't really responsible for. Futhermore, the issue caused Ringplus to lose subscribers and hurt its reputation and ability to grow.
I have posted several excerpts of the lawsuit below further describing this problem so you can judge for yourself who may be at fault for Ringplus's failings.
9. Sprint rendered the Free Plan Agreement voidable by knowingly, and
without disclosure, placing RingPlus on a system (the “Sprint System”) that
RingPlus relied on and that Sprint knew (a) would produce unusable in-call delay
(i.e., mouth-to-ear delay in a phone call) (which has been reported by RingPlus
subscribers to be one, two, or more seconds), and (b) could not support the high
volume of API (Application Program Interface) transactions between the Sprint
and RingPlus systems required to sign up the amount of new RingPlus subscribers
needed to reach the projections. Sprint has now admitted these items to RingPlus......
11. These circumstances forced RingPlus to develop new technology to fix the
in-call delay problem by going around the in-call delay inherent in the Sprint System. RingPlus asked Sprint to compensate it for these problems and
development, but Sprint refused to share the financial burden of this stage of
development of the RingPlus Model as a co-investor........
60. Sprint had repeatedly told RingPlus the in-call delay problem was caused by
RingPlus, and not by Sprint. RingPlus has spent millions of dollars during the
Project to pay Sprint invoices, and to try to fix that problem and others.....
61. RingPlus kept trying to fix the in-call delay because it was the most
significant factor preventing new people from signing up for RingPlus service,
which prevented RingPlus from performing and the Project from succeeding. It
also damaged RingPlus’ goodwill by giving it a reputation for terrible call quality
in the public eye. It caused current subscribers to leave and issue chargebacks
which, in turn, caused RingPlus to lose merchants and great amounts of money.
That reputation has also tremendously damaged RingPlus’ goodwill and ability to
operate going forward.....
67. In September of 2016, Sprint finally admitted it always knew the in-call
delay existed, that it was caused by Sprint, and that Sprint could not fix it.
68. Sprint has admitted that the call latency is caused by Sprint “round-robin”
routing RingPlus call traffic over legacy network gear that has inherent in-call
delay. Sprint admitted that the in-call delay would always exist, and be at least 0.5
to 1.5 or more seconds (that entire range is well outside telecommunications
industry standards for acceptable in-call delay).
Of course there is much more to the lawsuit than what I posted here. Ringplus has also claimed that Sprint is infringing on some of its patents and that it set Ringplus up to fail with the problems outlined above so that it could have free access to said patents. The patents and trade dress Ringplus claims Sprint is after and infringing upon include the ability to play news, music, and advertisements to its subscribers in place of a traditional ringtone while waiting for a call to be answered. Ringplus used this system to generate alternative revenue streams for itself.
One thing missing from the lawsuit is mention of the problems caused by Sprint's financial eligibility checker which blocked phones from being activated on a Sprint MVNO when they should have been allowed. This is another issue that caused growth problems for many Sprint MVNOs for quite some time.
This whole situation is an unfortunate sad story for the MVNO marketplace, as the Ringplus model truly did offer good value to wireless subscribers compared to many other providers. Unfortunately it could not be proven sustainable, although as we could see in some of the lawsuit claims the issue may have been something that was actually out of Ringplus's control as it may have had the cards purposely stacked against itself from the get go.
I suspect if possible, Ringplus will resurface again some day down the road with a better and more supportive network partner. I believe that once the dust settles, the companies CEO Karl Seelig will continue on in the business to try and realize his dream of providing free cellular services to the masses.
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