A Financial Model of Tucows (TCX) and Ting

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A Financial Model of Tucows and Ting

A Financial Model of Ting

by Hugh Pickens

Article begun November 13, 2014

I am long term investor who owns stock in Tucows. The purpose of this web site is to provide a comprehensive overview of Tucows (TCX) that documents and explains the company's business strategy and monitors the execution of that strategy with particular emphasis on Tucows' MVNO, Ting. Information about Tucows has been compiled in this report from news releases, earnings reports, earnings conferences calls, and independent reporting on Tucows and Ting.

A financial model shows Ting's past performance and predicts how Ting will perform in the future under different growth scenarios.

Contents of This Report


Contents

[edit] Overview of Tucows and Ting

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through November 7, 2016. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 975% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 68% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

[edit] Financial Analysis of Tucows and a Financial Model of Ting

by Hugh Pickens

Article begun November 13, 2014

The purpose of this web site is to provide a comprehensive overview of Tucows (TCX) that documents and explains the company's business strategy and monitors the execution of that strategy with particular emphasis on Tucows' MVNO, Ting Mobile, and Tucows' fiber initiative, Ting Internet. Information about Tucows has been compiled in this report from news releases, earnings reports, earnings conferences calls, and independent reporting on Tucows and Ting.

A financial model shows Ting's past performance and predicts how Ting will perform in the future under different growth scenarios.

[edit] Contents of This Report

[edit] Original Article

The original article is available at: Ting Model and Tucows Analysis

[edit] Purpose of This Report

The purpose of this report is to:

[edit] Disclaimer

I am long term investor who owns stock in Tucows. The purpose of this web site is to monitor Tucows so I can understand how my investment is performing. I compile information about Tucows from news releases, earnings reports, earnings conferences calls, press releases, and independent reporting on Tucows and Ting. I have built a financial earnings model to monitor Ting's past performance and to make predictions on how Ting will perform in the future under different growth scenarios. One of that attractions of reporting on Tucows is that Ting's business strategy is relatively straightforward and easy to model with a limited number of inputs. For another example of a company I own stock in and follow closely, go to my report on Phillips 66 (PSX), a much larger and more complex company.

There are three reasons I am making this information available publicly. First, I find I am more careful in my work and systematic in my approach to stock valuations when I know other people are looking at my work. Second, I would like readers of this article to send their comments, appraisals, and criticisms of my work to hughpickens at gmaildotcom so I can incorporate their ideas into my approach and improve my financial model. Third, Tucows is a small cap with a market cap of just over $300 million that is thinly traded and only being followed by three analysts. I would like the stock to become better known because I think Tucows' value will rise in a more efficient and liquid market.

This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in the company and uses this web site to follow the company. All information on this web site comes from publicly available sources. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

[edit] Tucows Business Analysis

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] Background

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993 to provide users with downloads of freeware and trial versions of shareware. The name originally was an acronym for "The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software". The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows."

In February 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). An MVNO is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which the MVNO provides services to its customers. The MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently. In Tucows case, the wireless service provider is Sprint. While Sprint provides the wireless network, Ting provides customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel. Consumer Reports reported in November, 2014 that Ting is the highest rated small mobile service provider with the best customer service of any MVNO. According to Glenn Derene, the Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, “Smaller providers like Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Republic have excellent satisfaction ratings because they’re designing innovative strategies to keep plan costs down for their customers and simplify their service options.”[1]

Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price and since Ting's launch, Tucows (TCX) stock price has more than quintupled.

[edit] Business Segments

The most important single fact about Tucows is that the company operates two different business segments:

The first business is as a wholesale reseller of domain names with over 8 million domain names under management. The domain service business segment of Tucows has a large volume but modest profit margins. The domain name business is a mature business with low margins, large cash flow, steady profits and slow growth.. The business is extraordinarily "sticky." Once someone buys a domain name from the retail side of Tucows or from one of Tucows' resellers, they almost never change providers because it is a lot of trouble to transfer a domain name to a new domain name company.

The MVNO side of the business is very different from the domain name side. The MVNO business generates high profits with gross margins of 45 percent. The MVNO business is also high growth with a customer base that increases by 10 to 15 percent every quarter. Although Tucows MVNO business is only in their third year of operation, it is already a significant contributor to the company's bottom line. There are many competitors but no single company dominates the MVNO business space. MVNOs are experimenting to find the best way to target customers, advertise their plans, acquire new business, provide customer service, and bill customers to become a profitable enterprise.

One thing that Ting has in common with Tucows' domain services business segment is that both segments provide world class telephone based customer service. Tucows has been able to transfer their experience in telephone based customer service from the domain name business segment to their MVNO business where customer service has become Tucows' prime differentiator from its competitors.

Consumer Reports reported in November, 2014 that Ting is the best small mobile service provider with the best customer service of any MVNO. According to Glenn Derene, the Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, “Smaller providers like Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Republic have excellent satisfaction ratings because they’re designing innovative strategies to keep plan costs down for their customers and simplify their service options.”[2]

[edit] Incremental Contributions From Tucows Domain Services and Ting

The following is historical data taken from Tucows financial reports since Q1 in 2013 when Tucows began breaking out financial results from Ting. The spreadsheet shows the incremental contributions from Tucows' Domain Services and Ting.[3][4][5][6]

Spreadsheet 1: 08-08-2016 2013: Q1 2013: Q2 2013: Q3 2013:Q4 2014: Q1 2014: Q2 2014: Q3 2014: Q4 2015: Q1 2015: Q2 2015: Q3 2015: Q4 2016: Q1 2016: Q2
Net Revenue All Domain Services $27,637,000 $27,439,000 $30,919,000 $33,139,000 $27,690,000 $27,328,000 $29,125,000 $27,636,000 $27,541,000 $27,471,000 $28,011,000 $27,738,000 $27,771,000 $28,468,000
Cost of Revenue All Domain Services $19,968,000 $20,068,000 $20,672,000 $24,901,000 $20,035,000 $19,696,000 $20,192,000 $20,067,000 $19,464,000 $19,752,000 $19,569,000 $20,050,000 $19,861,000 $19,940,000
Incremental Contribution from Tucows Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) $7,669,000 $7,371,000 $10,247,000 $8,238,000 $7,655,000 $7,632,000 $8,933,000 $7,569,000 $8,077,000 $7,719,000 $8,442,000 $7,688,000 $7,910,000 $8,528,000
Net Revenue Ting $2,348,000 $3,734,000 $4,718,000 $5,729,000 $6,712,000 $8,260,000 $9,749,000 $11,166,000 $12,927,000 $15,418,000 $16,541,000 $17,292,000 $17,839,000 $18,999,000
Cost of Revenue Ting $2,110,000 $2,940,000 $3,597,000 $3,975,000 $4,281,000 $5,040,000 $5,794,000 $6,755,000 $7,345,000 $8,499,000 $9,211,000 $9,188,000 $8,989,000 $9,910,000
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) $238,000 $794,000 $1,121,000 $1,754,000 $2,431,000 $3,220,000 $3,955,000 $4,411,000 $5,582,000 $6,919,000 $7,330,000 $8,104,000 $8,850,000 $9,089,000
Incremental Contribution from Ting and Domain Services $7,907,000 $8,165,000 $11,368,000 $8,238,000 $10,086,000 $10,852,000 $12,888,000 $11,980,000 $13,659,000 $14,638,000 $15,772,000 $15,792,000 $16,760,000 $17,617,000
Adjusted EBITDA $3,314,000 $3,275,000 $4,920,000 $3,531,000 $6,873,000 $5,357,000 $7,030,000 $6,313,000 $6,313,000 $7,112,000
Net Income $477,000 $1,347,000 $2,691,000 $1,859,000 $2,834,000 $2,285,000 $3,159,000 $3,095,000 $4,438,000 $4,071,000
Net Income per Share 0.04 0.12 0.24 0.16 0.25 0.21 0.29 0.29 0.42 0.39
Closing Share Price the Day After Earnings Report 14.23 16.30 16.35 18.43 18.85 23.91 27.42 19.96 24.16 27.62
P/E 88.94 33.96 17.03 28.80 18.85 28.46 23.64 17.21 14.38 17.71

[edit] Notes

Note 1: Incremental earnings reflect the contribution of the business segment before taxes and other expenses.

Note 2: Tucows began using Adjusted EDITDA as a financial metric beginning Q1 2014. Tucows has not yet provided the Adjusted EDITDA figures for Q4 2014.

Note 3: All information in this table compiled from the following Tucows' earnings results:

[edit] Tucows Foreign Exchange Strategy

Five Year Chart of Canadian Dollars/ US Dollars Through February, 2016. Up until the end of 2014 the Canadian Dollar was strong against the US Dollar so the company engaged in foreign exchange hedging to provide certainty around future costs. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss said on November 20, 2014 during the 2014 Q3 conference call that with the strengthening of the US Dollar, Tucows foreign exchange strategy will change and Tucows will go unhedged starting in 2015 to take advantage of the favorable exchange rates. "If the foreign exchange rate stays more or less in its current range, EBITDA could benefit by as much as $1 million to $1.5 million in 2015 relative to this year," said Noss.

Tucows is a Canadian company that earns most of its revenue in U.S. dollars, while most of their operating expenses including labor costs, rent, and utilities are in Canadian dollars. Up until the end of 2014 the Canadian Dollar was strong against the US Dollar so the company engaged in foreign exchange hedging to provide certainty around future costs. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss said on November 20, 2014 during the 2014 Q3 conference call that with the strengthening of the US Dollar, Tucows foreign exchange strategy will change and Tucows will go unhedged starting in 2015 to take advantage of the favorable exchange rates. "The appreciation of the Canadian dollar has been a bit of a headwind really over the last decade or so, as our expenses were that much higher relative to our revenues. You see that reflective in our 2014 numbers and our guidance. However, with the recent weakening of the Canadian dollar, we now have a bit of a tailwind. We have typically hedged out 18 months or so, but are now only hedged through the end of 2014. Thus, if the foreign exchange rate stays more or less in its current range, EBITDA could benefit by as much as $1 million to $1.5 million in 2015 relative to this year."[7]

Max Lukenbach reported on January 18, 2015 in a comment to an article about Tucows in Seeking Alpha that since Noss' announcement, the Canadian Dollar has weakened further and that this will be even more beneficial for Tucows and could "add $2,000,000 to EBITDA" during 2015.[8]

Tony Redondo wrote in Exchange Rates' on January 3, 2015 that "the majority of analysts are predicting further US Dollar strength in 2015 on the back of the strong recovery in the US economy and the monetary tightening policy embarked upon by the US Federal Reserve.[9]

[edit] Ting Financial Model

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993. The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows."
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.


Other sections of this report on Tucows include:




[edit] Profitability of Ting Mobile Through Present Quarter

Spreadsheet 2: 08-08-2016 2013: Q1 2013: Q2 2013: Q3 2013:Q4 2014: Q1 2014: Q2 2014: Q3 2014: Q4 2015: Q1 2015: Q2 2015: Q3 2015: Q4 2016: Q1 2016: Q2
Number of Customers at End of This Quarter 12,000 24,000 36,000 48,000 61,000 73,000 82,000 94,000 103,000 113,000 122,000 128,000 140,000 144,000
Customers Net Additions This Quarter to Arrive at Total Customers (Net Adds) 10,000 13,000 12,000 11,000 12,000 11,000 10,000 9,000 6,000 12,000 4,000
Quarterly Churn Rate 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 7.50% 8.20% 7.17% 7.20%
Churned Customers 3,600 4,575 5,475 6,150 7,050 7,725 8,475 9,150 10,496 10,038 10,368
Gross Adds 13,600 17,575 17,475 17,150 19,050 18,725 18,475 18,150 16,496 22,038 14,368
Average Customer Phone Bill per Quarter $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105 $105
Gross Margin 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45% 45%
Acquisition Costs per New Customer (Gross Adds) $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100 $100
Gross Income in This Quarter $5,040,000 $5,482,313 $6,747,563 $7,919,625 $8,869,875 $10,041,938 $10,895,063 $11,857,125 $12,573,960 $13,543,005 $14,365,680
Cost of Goods Sold in This Quarter $2,772,000 $3,015,272 $3,711,159 $4,355,794 $4,878,431 $5,523,066 $5,992,284 $6,521,419 $6,915,678 $7,448,653 $7,901,124
Cost to Acquire New Customers $1,360,000 $1,757,500 $1,747,500 $1,715,000 $1,905,000 $1,872,500 $1,847,500 $1,815,000 $1,649,600 $2,203,800 $1,436,800
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) $908,000 $2,467,041 $3,036,403 $3,563,831 $3,991,444 $4,518,872 $4,902,778 $5,335,706 $5,658,282 $6,094,352 $6,464,556
Incremental Contribution from Ting per Share (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) $0.08 $0.22 $0.27 $0.31 $0.35 $0.40 $0.43 $0.47 $0.50 $0.54 $0.57
Delta in Incremental per share Contribution from Ting from Previous Quarter $0.14 $0.05 $0.05 $0.04 $0.05 $0.03 $0.04 $0.03 $0.04 $0.03

Notes and Assumptions

Note 1: Ting started in February 2012. The model goes back to Q3 in 2013. Prior to the earnings report Q3 in 2013 Tucows did not break out the number of customers or devices.[10]

Note 2: There is a discrepancy of 2,000 customers in the number of customers added for 2014:Q3 due to an new method that Ting used for counting customers. "This is the result of a one-time change in how we measure active accounts."[11]

Note 3: The number of churned customers is calculated by multiplying the monthly churn rate (2.5%) times three months per quarter times the number of customers at the end of the previous quarter. Noss said in the 2014:Q2 earnings conference that "It is also worth mentioning that after 30 days of service when customers tend to determine whether they are getting sufficient network coverage, our churn rate drops comfortably below 2% per month."

Note 4: Elliot Noss stated in the November, 2014 conference call that Ting had 82,000 customers at the end of Q3 and in the February, 2015 call that Ting had 94,000 customers at the end of Q4 for an increase of 12,000. Noss also stated they had added 11,000 net customers. The discrepancy is a rounding error.

Note 5: The "Gross Income" is calculated by multiplying the "Average Customer Phone per Quarter" times the number of customers in the previous quarter plus one half the new customers gained minus one half the lost (chruned) in the present quarter. The factor of one-half is used because it is assumed that customers are added in a steady stream so that on average the new customers added will contribute to the gross income only one half of the quarter.

Note 6: The "Cost of Goods Sold" is calculated by taking the "Gross Income" and subtracting from it the "Gross Income" times the "Gross Margin".

Note 7: The "Cost to Acquire New Customers" is calculated by mulitplying the "New Customers Added During This Quarter to Arrive at Total Customers" plus the "Churned Customers" and multiplying this times the "Acquisition Costs per New Customer".

Note 8: The "Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses)" is calculated from the "Gross Income in This Quarter" and subtracting both the "Cost of Goods Sold in This Quarter" and the "Cost to Acquire New Customers".

Note 9: The "Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses)" does not include taxes and other expenses which are spread over both the domain services portion to Tucows and the Ting portion of Tucows. This will be factored in at the last step of the process.

Note 10: The "Incremental Contribution from Ting per Share (Before Taxes and Other Expenses)" is calculated by dividing the "Net Income for This Quarter (before Taxes and Other Expenses)" by the 11,321,175 outstanding shares of Tucows.

Note 11: In late January, 2016 PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, alerted its customers that it will be shutting down the service and included Ting among a few recommended mobile providers. Ting welcomed roughly 7,000 of these customers in Q1 of 2016 as a one-time influx of customers, migrating from another MVNO that closed its doors.


[edit] Latest News about Tucows and Ting

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993. The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows." In 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting provides its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel.
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] January 13, 2017: Ting to Connect Their First Customer in Holly Springs

The Triangle Business Journal reported on January 13, 2017 that after a process that’s spanned fifteen months, Ting is about to pull the trigger on fiber internet in Holly Springs as the first customer gets connected. Holly Springs officials will join Ting on January 17, 2017 at an address on Dexter Ridge Drive the fiber team said in a media invitation. There's been a lot accomplished since October 2015 when Ting announced it was assessing a plan to bring ultra high-speed internet to Holly Springs. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss said in the Tucows November, 2016 earnings conference that Ting had competencies in alignment for a rollout – and, more importantly, that it could make the math work. Noss told investors that spending about $2,500 to $3,000 per customer yields a recurring margin of about $1,000. He said the goal is to achieve 50 percent penetration in five years in the fiber cities Ting serves.[12]

[edit] Chronology of Ting Fiber Rollout in Holly Springs

Following is the chronology of Ting Fiber rollout in Holly Springs from the initial announcement in October, 2015 to the first live customer in January 2017:

[edit] January 12, 2017: Brad Burnham Joins Tucows Board of Directors

Brad Burnham Joins Tucows Board of Directors. Burnham is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures. “Tucows, with Ting in particular, has huge ambitions right now.” explained Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “We are providing core services in mobile and fixed Internet and competing with some of the largest, most successful companies in the world, like AT&T and Comcast. But we want to challenge pricing conventions, offer far better experiences, contribute more to local communities and create greater returns for investors. In that regard, we are holding ourselves up against the kinds of companies in Brad’s portfolio. We want to be that usable, delightful, bold and innovative. Brad might be singularly qualified to help us with that challenge.” Photo: Burnham at Poptech 2012 by Thatcher Cook for PopTech Flickr Creative Commons. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Reuters reported on January 12, 2017 that Brad Burnham has joined Tucows' board of directors.[13]

"On January 12, 2017, the Board of Directors (the "Board") of Tucows Inc. (the "Company") increased the size of the Board to seven members and, upon the recommendation of the Corporate Governance, Nominating and Compensation Committee of the Board, appointed Brad Burnham to the Board as a director, with a term expiring at the Company's 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. There were no arrangements or understandings between Mr. Burnham and any other persons pursuant to which Mr. Burnham was selected as a director of the Company. The Board has determined that Mr. Burnham is an independent director in accordance with the NASDAQ listing standards. Mr. Burnham will be compensated pursuant to the Company's independent director compensation plan including, without limitation, an initial grant of options to purchase 4,375 shares of the Company's common stock at an exercise price per share that is equal to the closing price per share of the Company's common share as reported on the NASDAQ Capital Market on the date of the grant."

“Tucows, with Ting in particular, has huge ambitions right now.” explained Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “We are providing core services in mobile and fixed Internet and competing with some of the largest, most successful companies in the world, like AT&T and Comcast. But we want to challenge pricing conventions, offer far better experiences, contribute more to local communities and create greater returns for investors. In that regard, we are holding ourselves up against the kinds of companies in Brad’s portfolio. We want to be that usable, delightful, bold and innovative. Brad might be singularly qualified to help us with that challenge.”

Mr. Burnham added, "I am a huge fan of decentralized, bottom up, start-up innovation. I feel fortunate to have been able to work with companies that fundamentally transformed markets. I think Tucows has an exceptional opportunity to change the way we think about access to the Internet.”[14]

Burnham is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures. Burnham started working in information technology with AT&T in 1979, spun Echo Logic out of Bell Laboratories in 1989 and joined AT&T Ventures in 1993. Burnham co-founded TACODA in 2001 before joining Fred Wilson to create Union Square Ventures in 2003.[15] Burnham currently serves on the boards of Indeed, Pinch Media, Tumblr, Wesabe, Adaptive Blue, SimulMedia, UpCompany, Meetup, and Bug Labs.[16]

Union Square Ventures (USV), is an American New York-based venture capital firm, that manages assets totaling $1 billion as of March 2016. The firm is one of the top returning venture capital funds in the world, its 2004 fund returning 13.91 times cash-on-cash with an IRR of 67.0%. The firm has had a billion dollar exit every year since 2011 including Zynga ’11 at 7.7B, Indeed ’12 at 1.4B, Tumblr ’13 1.1B, Twitter ’13 at 14.2 B, Lending Club ’14 at 5.42B, Etsy ’15 at 1.78B and Twilio ’16 at 1.23B.[17]

"I believe that free market capitalism has created enormous amount of wealth for a very large number of people," says Burnham, "and that the alternative systems have not succeeded in creating that amount of wealth. I think that the peer economy is a logical evolution of free market capitalism. The large incumbent bureaucratic hierarchies that dominate sectors of the existing economy actually constrain free market capitalism, because they've gotten to a point where they control policy and politicians, and affect the ability for people to compete, and stuff like that. I think the peer economy is an extension of that free market capitalism."[18]

[edit] January 4, 2017: TCX Reaches New Closing High, Market Cap Exceeds $400 million for First Time

Nasdaq reported that Tucows stock (TCX) rose 1.00 points to reach a new closing high of 37.45. Tucows market cap also exceeded $400 million for the first time with a market cap of $402,890,000. Tucows made new closing highes on January 9, 2017 closing at 37.95, and January 13, 2017 closing ar 38.00.

[edit] January 1, 2017: After Millions Of Investment, Jurisdictions in Maryland Try To Achieve Potential Of Fiber Network

The Baltimore Sun reported on January 1, 2017 that three years ago, the state of Maryland completed one of the nation's largest public investments in a fiber optic network— installing hundreds of miles of cables that politicians said would secure fire and police communications, spur economic development and lead to faster, cheaper internet. The network, much of it financed by $115 million in federal stimulus funds, connects primarily to public buildings, like schools, libraries and police and fire stations but today much of that potential remains untapped, lying unlit like a 21st-century highway to nowhere. Bringing fiber to individual homes and offices is expensive — installation often requires negotiating permits and rights of way, and digging up streets. Across the country, investment by big internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon has lagged, especially in poor or rural areas.

Progress toward making greater use of the region's public fiber varies. The city of Westminster floated $21 million in bonds to install a fiber network. The city granted Ting, a unit of a Canadian telecom company, the exclusive right to lease its network in the beginning, but other internet providers eventually will be able to lease fiber and offer service to customers, competing on price. "It's a perfect division of labor," said Dr. Robert P. Wack, president of Westminster's City Council.

Officials in other jurisdictions said they want to use the networks to spur economic development but are still figuring out which model will work. "The question is, how do you enable a government-owned infrastructure to be used commercially?" asked Rick Napolitano, interim chief information officer in Anne Arundel. Plans "are in the incubation stages and will likely take many years to develop."[19]

[edit] December 22, 2016: Sandpoint Officials Are Finalizing Fiber Lease Rates to Ting

The Bonner County Daily Bee reported on December 22, 2016 that city officials in Sandpoint are working on finalizing a maintenance and operations plan for fiber, as well as a rate structure for leasing the infrastructure to private providers looking to expand service into the community. Ting, a fiber service provider that has been looking at expanding the service in Sandpoint, announced last week it plans to have fiber Internet available to the community in June or July of 2017, which City administrator Jennifer Stapleton said is contingent upon the city finalizing lease rates. Those rates are expected to be finalized in January, said Stapleton.[20]

[edit] December 21, 2016: Some Say Paying Centennial Councilmen to Oversee Fiber May Violate City Charter

The Villager reported on December 21, 2016 that the Centennial City Council voted 7-2 on December 12, 2016 to create a city-owned business operation to manage the leasing of Centennial’s multi-use underground fiber-optic network and the commission’s members, three of whom are to be sitting councilmembers, are slated to receive $350 per month. “City Councilmembers are policymakers, not to be involved in operational matters,” argued Councilmember Kathy Turley, the second no vote on the question. Assistant City Attorney Maureen Juran, who helped facilitate the drafting of the city charter says that the stipend did not rise to the level of substantive employment, but said she had not done extensive research into the question.

The move to create Fiberworks comes three years after Centennial voters overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing the city to lease its 48 miles of publicly owned fiber-optic lines. In October, Canada-based Ting announced plans to bring its high-speed internet services—or “crazy fast internet,” as the company says—to Centennial next year. Ting will be the first firm to do so since voters allowed the city to create a nonexclusive broadband network from fiber-optic lines that have so far been used only for traffic-signal operations and connecting public facilities. Centennial is required to lease its $5 million in fiber-optic lines on a nonexclusive basis, meaning the city cannot exclude any cable or internet companies.[21]

[edit] November 19, 2016: Ting Sponsors Annual Holiday Lighting Event in Centennial Center Park

The Centennial Citizen reported on November 28, 2016 that Ting sponsored the fifth annual holiday lighting event on November 19, 2016 in Centennial Center Park. Dancers from the Denver Ballet Theater Academy leaped and twirled to select pieces from "The Nutcracker" as about 4,000 people attended the event. After the "Nutcracker" performances, choirs from Newton Middle School and Creekside, Peakview, Peabody, Sandburg and Homestead elementaries performed holiday songs leading up to the tree lighting. The evening concluded with Mayor Cathy Noon and seven members of Centennial's city council surrounding Santa as he plugged in the holiday lights.[22]

[edit] November 9, 2016: Ninety-Five Colorado Communities Have Voted Yes on Broadband Internet Alternatives

The Denver Post reported on November 9, 2016 that 26 Colorado municipalities have approved ballot measures allowing them to explore the idea of offering their own broadband internet service joining 69 other counties and municipalities in the state — or 95 total, according to Community Broadband Networks — who voted in years past to opt out of SB 152.

However many of the municipalities are still be in the exploratory phase, if they’ve done anything at all. “A lot of communities are nervous and really prefer for someone else to come in and invest,” said Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which tracked voting in 26 municipalities Tuesday on MuniNetworks.org. “But there are just not a lot of private companies that have the ability to come in and work with communities in a partnership today.”

One company that appears to be moving forward is Ting Internet, which hopes to latch on to Centennial’s plans to build a fiber network in the city. Ting, a division of Tucows in Canada, would offer gigabit internet to city residents by connecting to that main internet pipe. “It’s going really well. I’d be surprised and disappointed if we didn’t do it. But we haven’t put a shovel in the ground yet,” said Adam Eisner, Ting’s vice president of networks. ““What I’ve seen on the ground is we’re getting a lot of attention from different areas because of what we’ve been doing with our partnership in Centennial. There just aren’t a lot of providers that will go, ‘Yeah, we’ll go in on that.'”[23]

[edit] November 7, 2016: Tucows Reports Record Third-Quarter Profit of $4.7 million

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through November 7, 2016. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 975% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 68% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.
Incremental Contribution from Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows EBITDA Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows Net Income Per Share Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

AP reported on November 9, 2016 that Tucows reported third-quarter profit of $4.7 million or 45 cents per share on revenue of $49.1 million.[24]

See also:

[edit] Revenue: Quarterly Revenue Increased 11% YOY

Tucows announced on November 7, 2016 that net revenue for the third quarter of 2016 increased 11% from Q3 2015 to $49.0 million from $44.29 million for the third quarter of 2015.[25]

[edit] Profitability: Net Income for the Year Increased 50% YOY

Tucows announced on November 7, 2016 that net income for the third quarter of 2016 increased 50% to $4.7 million or $0.45 per share from $3.1 million, or $0.29 per share, for the third quarter of 2015.[26]

[edit] EBITDA: Adjusted EBITDA for the Year Increased 48% YOY

Tucows announced on November 7, 2016 that adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2016 increased 48% to $8.5 million from $5.8 million for the third quarter of 2015.[27]

[edit] EBITDA: Tucows Reiterates Adjusted EBITDA guidance of $30 million for 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows is reiterating its existing adjusted EBITDA guidance of $30 million for 2016.[28]

[edit] EBITDA: Tucows Has Changed the Way the Company Computes EBITDA

Michael Cooperman told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows modified the definition for adjusted EBITDA in response to clarification guidance regarding non-GAAP measures issued by the SEC in May, 2016. "The SEC guidance indicated that adjusted earnings for deferred revenue may not be consistent with disclosure rules. Accordingly we have revised our definition of adjusted EBITDA to eliminate the adjustment for the effective net deferred revenue to reflect net revenue on an earned basis. For those of you wishing to compute our adjusted EBITDA in our prior definitions, this can be done with reference to our disclosure financials and our MD&A. Adjusted EBITDA using this new definition for the third quarter increased 48% to $8.6 million from $5.8 million for the corresponding period last year."[29]

See the *Calculation of Tucows' New Adjusted EBITDA under the SEC Compliance Update

[edit] November 7, 2016: Ting Mobile Growth Slows with 3,000 Net Adds in Q3

Number of Ting Mobile Customers Note: Ting started in February 2012. Prior to the earnings report for 2013:Q4 Tucows did not break out the number of customers or devices so the number of customers in Q1 through Q3 for 2013 is estimated. (Click on chart to expand.)
Gross Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.) Note: In Q1 2016 Ting Mobile had a one-time influx of 7,000 customers, migrating from PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, that closed its doors.
Chart 6: Churned Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Net Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.) Note: In Q1 2016 Ting Mobile had a one-time influx of 7,000 customers, migrating from PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, that closed its doors.

[edit] Growth: Ting Mobile Had Net Adds of 3,000 Accounts and 8,000 Devices in Q2 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Mobile added over 3,000 accounts and 8,000 devices in Q3 to bring Ting's total to 147,000 accounts and 235,000 devices.[30]

[edit] Churn: Ting Mobile's Churn Rate was 2.8%

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that churn was 2.8% in Q3. "We are seeing some successes with efforts intended to reduce churn and at the same time, the base continues to get slightly more challenging with the mix between carriers. We expect churn to rise again a bit in Q4 and then drop in Q1 and Q2."

Noss added that he expects monthly churns to average out to around 2.5% for the year.[31]

[edit] Profitability: Gross Margins for Ting Mobile Remain in the 45% to 50% Range

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that after the recent price decrease and reductions in cost, Ting Mobile still slightly above the 45% to 50% gross margin target. "We expect this will come down as we see more data usage at higher levels. This may take a quarter or two to sort out and we will continue to watch it and keep you posted. We are of course thrilled to have more competitive data pricing in an increasingly data hungry world."[32]

[edit] Profitability: Price Decreases Have Not Had Much Impact on Gross Account Adds Yet

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Mobile's price decrease has not had much impact yet on gross account adds. "Our new pricing was necessary more than newsworthy. As we continued to share our challenges brand awareness and we do expect that as we grow awareness, the price decrease will contribute positively to conversion. I've talked on prior calls about some of our key strategic directions with respect to gross adds and I want to give you an update on these. First, retail; as I said, we've seen a modest contribution from our distribution at Kroger and Staples locations but it has not given us a material lift. These partnerships offer presence but not a lot of push. We will continue to work these opportunities and others. Now that we have experience, they are easier to execute and do give us a bit of mainstream exposure and credibility but we do not expect to invest much more there or get much more there."[33]

[edit] Affiliates: The Challenge in Affiliate Relationships is Finding Scale

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that the challenge in affiliate relationships is finding scale. "Most of the large national affinity groups have exclusivity with a major carrier, the largest private organizations and enterprises tend to push their employees to the carriers that they use at an enterprise level. So we need to work around the edges and grow through smaller partnerships. We are doing that and we are finding wins but just like our direct response efforts through bloggers, podcasters, social media and other channels, we expect affiliates to be an efficient slowly growing contributor to our acquisition program rather than a step change. Through the last few quarters we have learned better what winners look like and use that learning to try and find more. We will continue to grind here."[34]

[edit] Sales Process: Ting Mobile Continues to Optimize Sales Capability

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Mobile's continues to focus on strengthening its sales capability from direct response drivers of traffic and calls to an optimized purchase path to sales processes and people to close deals on the phone.

"We have made progress there and as we've begun to have more confidence in both, our tracking and our performance, we have started to look more aggressively for sources of potential new customers. Closers that includes simply increasing our advertising spend and familiar platforms like Ad Words and Twitter where we can test landing pages, special offers, phone tactics, lead capture tactics, retargeting and more. Slightly further out, we're experimenting with targeting and digital display campaigns that model prospects against our current customers."[35]

[edit] Marketing: Ting Mobile Has Produced an Infomercial

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Mobile has produced a Ting infomercial.

"In the next couple of weeks, we're going to test an entirely new direct response vehicle that we think can also give us some of the bigger, broader awareness we need," said Noss. "This is a full half hour program in the traditional infomercial format, it is heavily focused on a Sensex [ph] spirited customer testimonials leveraging Ting's biggest asset, its reputation. As with other infomercials, it is not in the voice that we usually use to talk with our customers but it does a wonderful job of illustrating how Ting treats customers better and costs them less, and we are hopeful that it will be very appealing to an audience that is less technical. And as I have said politely less than our current base. We will be running at a lower rates during late night and early morning hours for a couple of weeks in November. If we like the traffic and calls that generate, we will look to scale in the New Year.

This is a slightly larger bet than we've made in the past, I think mid-six figures but given the size of the business and the size of the opportunity, we feel it's well worth it is tiny relative to media spend in the category."

In answer to a question from Matt Miller from Bayview Asset Management on concerns about an infomercial approach to brand editing, Noss responded that that he had no concerns. "What would I say is none. So I think the way that we experienced it when we first considered it and really throughout the process is that the response was more emotional than rational. So I think that there is it's a very, very different voice, which is what I tried to call out in the script there than we usually talk to our customers, we usually talk to our customers more conversationally, we usually talk to them in a little more sophisticated way. We have to respect that there's a lot of great product that is moved in a lot of high volume through these channels, and I think we I don't mean you and I, I mean we internally here. And I think that probably what gave us -- I mean when you see it and happy to let you, when you see it, it certainly is an infomercial. There's no -- it's clear that that's what it is, but I will also tell you that the biggest Body of topic in there is customer testimonials, and those are completely consistent with the way that we approach our communication. And had completely consistent with everything that we would have wished and hoped our customers would say of us. So I think that what sometimes you serve a dish that you might not eat regularly and it serves you well."[36]

[edit] November 7, 2016: Ting Internet Is Moving Forward

[edit] Strategy: Ting Internet is Focusing on Expanding Supply to Meet Demand

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "on Ting Internet, Q3 was primarily about expanding supply to meet demand."[37]

[edit] Strategy: 2016 Has Been a Year of Learning for Ting Internet

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that 2016 has really been a year of learning for Ting Internet.

"In Ting Internet, we have learned the nuts and bolts of operating a fiber channel. We have learned how to work city opportunities through a pipeline. We have learned how to start a build in a new market dealing with everything; from design to staffing. We have done it all while spending wisely. Most importantly, we have learned that Ting Internet plays to our organizational strengths of strong back office, excellent customer service, attention to detail, and sense of community and building long-term win-win partnerships with communities in the same way we have historically done so with customers, employees and investors."[38]

[edit] Charlottesville: Ting Internet has Doubled its Install Team

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that in Charlottesville both Ting Internet's network and customer base continue to grow and Ting Internet has doubled the install team. "This allows us to handle more installs every day and has helped to produce continual months of record new customer install. It also allows us to extend the network quality more quickly to the neighborhoods with the most pre-orders and to housing developments and multi-dwelling units that want to offer gigabit space to the residents. It also provides golden learning for future markets."[39]

[edit] Charlottesville: Ting Internet Now Passes Over 10,000 Potential Customers

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Internet's "network in Charlottesville now passes over 10,000 potential customers and we will continue to expand aggressively through 2017."[40]

[edit] Westminster: The Next Wave of Construction is Underway

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that in Westminster where the city is building the network, the next wave of construction is underway. "So I've said we're only at about 300 serviceable addresses right now in Westminster. The city projects another 2,700 addresses finished by this time next year.[41]

[edit] Holly Springs: Ting Internet Expects to Light Up the First Customers by the End of 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that in Holly Springs Ting Internet "expects to light up the first customers by the end of the year and get to around ten thousand serviceable dresses throughout Holly Springs by the end of 2017."[42]

[edit] Centennial: Ting Internet Hopes to Begin Construction in Q2 2017 and Start Lighting Up Customers in Summer 2017

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that in Centennial Ting Internet "hopes to be able to begin our construction in Q2 2017 or so and start lighting up customers sometime in the summer."

"It will be our largest single town to date and we impressed with how quickly Centennial reaches consensus and makes decisions and how willing it embraces private partnerships to get things done. We have already started taking preorders and they have begun construction on their core fiber network. We hope to be able to begin our construction in Q2 2017 or so and start lighting up customers sometime in the summer. I'm confident Centennial will be a great partner with a great community of savvy-forward thinking residents and businesses. Centennial is also still working on the buildout of their core fiber network. Pre-orders there continue to be strong, we hope to start lining up the first customers there in mid-2017 as well."[43]

[edit] Profitability: Ting Internet Expects to Have 85,000 Serviceable Addresses Within 5 Years with the Existing Five Towns

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "altogether and in the state, these five towns will represent about 85,000 serviceable addresses, and 50% adoption after five years an average margin of $1,000 a year for customer. You have a business right there that would surpass the current Ting Mobile and build gross margin."[44]

[edit] Profitability: Tucows Continues to Feel Positive About their Investment in Ting Internet

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows continues to feel good about the numbers and their investment in Ting Internet, "specifically spending $2,500 to $3,000 per customer for a recurring margin of about $1,000 year."

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Noss reiterated that he sticks by his estimate of about a 50% penetration rate after five years and a $1000 of gross profit per subscriber. "Okay. So just on, the -- we're looking at when the companies reach that point, gross profit of $42.5 million a year," said Retzer. "I mean and to put that in perspective, your gross profit for the first nine months of the year for their entire company was $46.6 million."[45]

[edit] Expansion: Ting Internet Does Not Expect to Announce Any Additional Towns Before the End of the Year

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Internet does "not expect to announce any additional towns between now and the end of the year. With the five current projects we will be in execution phase for a bit. We continue to work the pipeline but we have plenty of building to do with the markets we've announced."[46]

[edit] Expansion: Ting Internet Doesn't See Hurdles in Adding to its Major City Pipeline

In answer to a question from Matt Miller from Bayview Asset Management, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Internet doesn't really see much in the way of hurdles to adding to the pipeline.

"The limiting factor there is our ability to want to sort of increase the breadth of what we take on or the surface area of attack, we're really treating it very seriously. We want to be great at it and we think to rush it would be a mistake. So there are there is -- there is it's not hurdles that we see there is just sort of us keeping ourselves in check."[47]

[edit] Challenges: Ting Internet Sees Two Potential Hurdles Affecting Their Penetration Targets

In answer to a question from Matt Miller from Bayview Asset Management, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "in terms of hurdles around penetration, I think there is two that I would call out, one internal one external."

"The external we really haven't yet seen, we haven't seen I won't say yet as if it's an eventuality but we do expect it, a strong competitive response from competitors in our markets, we think a part of that is because it's early days, the first and most likely place we would see that would be Charlottesville. I think it's an expectation, we certainly have of bring it on attitude, but we do respect the competition and we well understand that that's going to be something that we would be -- we would minimize it to our churn. So, I think we -- that's kind of its unknown and it's certainly a hurdle.

The internal hurdle that I reference is we really do think that what we're trying to do on a marketing level is a bit unique. When I talk about hyperlocal marketing on a national scale, how do you go into a location the size of Holly Springs, or Sandpoint or Centennial and really achieve national brand scale in that small footprint. It takes new and innovative thinking and approaches and techniques and we're really just at the beginning of that. I've got real confidence in the folks that are handling it. I think people are thinking about the problem in the right way and I think it's like a lot of other things, it's going to take experience and practice and learning."[48]

[edit] Challenges: Ting Internet Does Not See a Large Competitive Threat From 5G

In answer to a question from Daniel Asoski from Asoski Capital regarding regarding 5G risks when it comes to the fiber business, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Ting Internet is very comfortable with the idea that fiber is the best, fastest, most reliable medium or for internet access.

"We think that there is the fact that it's light over glass, really puts us bumping up against some of the limits that physics provides over 5G. In the longer term, I think most people who talk about it know that we're still three to five years away from a standard for 5G. So I don't mind saying that we think 5G. provides more opportunity than it does a threat in that, when you project out a few years, the thing that 5G will need the most is to get on a fiber backbone as quickly as possible and the one thing that is unmistakable truth is that in Ting towns, we will have by far the richest and deepest fiber network.

Meaning if you want to have a great 5G coverage in the same town you need to speak to us about back call, and I think I can say that we're in the back call business, you should model that in four years; I could say that because we're talking about 5G which again is three to five years away. So, we're not worried when it comes to five or about tech ups lessons.

And then when you talk about sort of what are we most worried about, I think that that it will be by far it's executing around these opportunities; don't take on too much too fast, but take on enough that we're continually challenging ourselves. I talked just in the previous set of questions about competitive response from some of the existing competitors, that's something again that we take very seriously. And I think that the one of the things that we don't worry about is whether the demand for better, faster, cheaper, more reliable internet access, will continue to increase significantly. I hope that gets at it for you."[49]

[edit] CapEx: Tucows Expects CapEx for Ting Internet to Come in at less than $10 million for the Year

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows expects CapEx for Ting Internet to come in it less than $10 million for the year."

"There is nothing negative in this lowered number. Simply learning about the nature and pace of fiber deployments. We will apply this learning to 2017 and beyond. In addition, when we laid out our guidance for the year. We share what we expected to spend, roughly $2.5 in 2016 on Ting Internet at an operating level. At this point, we think this number will more likely come in at $3.5 million to $4 million. Again, we continue to grow and learn and are very happy with the spend."[50]

[edit] CapEx: Ting Internet Expects to Begin Deploying Capital Toward Fiber on a Greater Scale in 2017

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "as we look towards 2017 and beyond, we expect to be deploying capital towards fiber and other significant opportunities on a greater scale than in the past."

"We feel that the combination of operating opportunities and capital deployment opportunities that sit in front of us really play to our strengths and bode well for our ability to provide outsized returns for years to come."

In answer to a question form Hubert Mark from Cormark Securities, Noss added that you're going to see CapEx rise pretty significantly year-over-year. "here is a lot of boring and digging to be done simply in those markets. So we will see the increase pretty significantly and in terms of the pipeline, I think we're learning that cities take a long time to come through on one hand and on the other, that -- when you're doing as a fiber build, there is a lot of work involved. And so what I was trying to do a little bit when I was laying out simply the number of addresses that you see in these markets is to say look, there is a lot here, there is a business here already that by no means means we're not going to be adding markets in 2017, I fully expect us to but it's to say that's probably not the most important variable to track. And as always, we'll keep you well in the loop as we go along."[51]

[edit] Google Fiber: Google is Finding that Fiber Installation is Messy, Unpredictable, and Does Not Perfectly Match Their Skills

Elliot Noss talked to analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 about Google Fiber.

"Google has built one of the largest and most successful company in the world with unparalleled achievements in advanced computer science and organizational scaling. They have astonishing aspirations to cure highway traffic and death, among other things. Like any business, they prioritize among their opportunities based on fit with their core competencies, competitive landscape, and potential return on investment.

Having just spent a quarter digging in the dirt in Holly Springs North Carolina. It does not surprise me that building fiber networks would not be Google's highest priority. It is messy and unpredictable. It does not perfectly match their skills. We also think that they have been clear that they too are not abandoning the work but are taking time to learn its complexities. As for us, we don't mind getting dirty. Billing, provisioning, customer service and process innovation are the keys to this business. Those match our core competencies well. Google will also in parallel be pushing advances in cutting edge wireless technologies. We think wireless has an important place in the total connectivity toolkit but we are looking at the fiber business a ground level and we like what we see."

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Noss added that "what we haven't seen yet is one of the cities that Google explicitly pulled back from, reaching out to us but I would note Pat, that I really when people talk about them pulling away or pulling back, I really think it's more accurate to describe them as taking stock and recognizing, that they're in I want to say it's their business not mine; So don't quote me, I want to see the eleven markets that they're staying in and that we're looking at five markets and saying; wow this is plenty for us to really sort of refine our game here and I think they're looking at the markets they're in and saying the same thing.

It's an operationally complex business and I looked at their announcement in some ways sort of a positive reinforcement of our view that this was complicated operationally and that the right thing to do was kind of get okay, and then good and then great. So, we felt whatever really smart people like they have at Google kind of see something through the same lens as we do, we're quite happy with that."[52]

[edit] November 7, 2016: Domain Services Continues its Track Record of Steady Performance

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "our domain services business continued its track record of steady performance in the third quarter with year-over-year growth bolstered by the incremental contribution of the international wholesale-reseller channel of Melbourne IT which we acquired in April of this year." [53]

[edit] Growth: Total Registrations Were Up 7% YOY

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "total registrations for Q3 were up 7% year-over-year with strong growth in open SRS renewals and the addition of the Melbourne IT names. The number of new transactions was more or less flat year-over-year as growth in open SRS and the contribution of the Melbourne IT channel were offset by the impact of a single reseller."[54]

[edit] Renewals: Domain Renewals Continue in their Historical Range of 74%

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "our renewal rate was consistent with its historical range at a healthy 74%."[55]

[edit] Profitability: Gross Margins for Domain Names Continue to Benefit from the Shift in Mix to Higher Margin Products

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "Q3 is one of our strongest quarters recently for gross margin as we continue to benefit from the shift in mix to higher margin products."

"In terms of new GTLDs, Q3 saw a notable add with the launch of duck shock [ph] towards the end of September. The strength of the launch push the number of new GTLD registrations as a percentage of all com-net and new GTLD registrations during the quarter upto about 8% above our historical rate of around 5%. As noted last quarter, top blog will go live this quarter and launch schedule for November 21. In terms of reseller participation around new GTLDs, the number of resellers with at least one new registration increased by 14% year-over-year and 8% sequentially to nearly 2,900. "[56]

[edit] Growth: The Transfer and Migration of Customers from Melbourne IT Has Been Smoothly and Successfully Completed

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that "the acquisition and migration of customers from Melbourne IT and the shutdown of their platform has now been smoothly and successfully completed. This bodes well in a mature market which can present tactical opportunities for a scale player that provide excellent cash-on-cash returns."[57]

[edit] Growth: Hover Presented Another Quarter of Strong and Steady Growth

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows' retail business, Hover, "delivered another quarter of steady strong performance."

"Revenue and gross margin once again processed strong year-over-year growth with gross margin up 11%. The Hover customer base also showed strong year-over-year growth, up 16% from the end of Q3 last year and 4% from the end of Q2 this year. Our renewal rate held steady at 81%, well above the industry average."[58]

[edit] October 28, 2016: Westminster has its Sights set on an Open-Access Municipal Fiber Network Model

American City and County reported on October 28, 2016 that Westminster has its sights set on an open-access municipal fiber network model to provide a multitude of services without much commitment to residents. In Westminster’s model, the city owns and builds out the fiber network infrastructure. However, a private company called Ting serves as the network’s operator and wholesaler, Westminster City Council President Robert Wack says. In this role, Ting connects customers with the network, bills them and handles ongoing customer service. Ting is currently the network’s sole Internet service provider and leases network access from Westminster.

Once Ting meets certain milestones related in part to growing its customer base, it will begin leasing network access to other service providers, who will offer their services to customers via the fiber network. Wack estimates that Ting will begin acting in this wholesaler role in about three years. “The end state is that we will have multiple providers using the same fiber network to create a real choice for our residents without any barriers to switching,” Wack says.

Currently, Westminster’s fiber network passes about 400 premises, which include residences, government buildings, businesses and open lots. Fiber passing over 2,000 residential buildings and lots is currently under construction, and Wack says Westminster will likely connect all of its residences and businesses to the fiber network in two to three years. Westminster is financing the network’s construction through a $21 million general obligation bond, according to a report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.[59]

[edit] October 25, 2016: Google Fiber Cuts Staff by 9%, “Pauses” Fiber Plans in 11 cities

Ars Technica reported on October 25, 2016 that Google Fiber is laying off or reassigning about nine percent of its staff as well as "pausing" or ending fiber operations in 10 cities where it hadn't yet fully committed to building. Google Fiber chief Craig Barratt will step down from his post and remain only as an adviser. He won't be replaced immediately. According to Jon Brodkin, Google Fiber apparently has not hit its subscriber goals, and fiber construction is a costly endeavor. While the company isn't giving up on fiber entirely, it may be able to deploy Internet service at a lower cost using wireless technology.[60]

"Just like Google Glass — the company's ill-fated attempt to build an augmented-reality visor — Google Fiber may be just a little ahead of its time. The thing about Fiber and businesses like it is that most consumers simply can't find a use for that much bandwidth yet. Google Fiber provides gigabit connectivity, which is orders of magnitude faster than what many Americans get in their homes today," says Brian Fung. "Our consumption of broadband is undoubtedly going to increase as we connect more devices to the Internet and those devices communicate in more sophisticated ways. But for now, Fiber is reportedly missing its subscriber goals, indicating there may not be enough demand for that level of service."[61]

According to Mark Bergen, some executives previously described Google Fiber’s business model as working best in mid-sized cities. In those markets, the costs of fiber installation isn’t as high and incumbent telecom companies have less of a footprint. Moving into big cities was a contentious point inside Google Fiber, according to one former executive. Leaders like Barratt and Dennis Kish, who runs Google Fiber day-to-day, pushed for the big expansion. Others pushed back because of the prohibitive cost of digging up streets to lay fiber-optic cables across some of America’s busiest cities. "I suspect the sheer economics of broad scale access deployments finally became too much for them," said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research. "Ultimately, most of the reasons Google got into this in the first place have either been achieved or been demonstrated to be unrealistic."[62]

[edit] October 5, 2016: Three Years Ago Centennial Voters Approved a Measure to Allow the City to Create a Nonexclusive Broadband Fiber-Optic Network

Centennial Voters Approved a Measure to Allow the City to Create a Nonexclusive Broadband Fiber-Optic Network. Three years ago voters in Centennial approved a measure allowing the city to lease its 48 miles of publicly owned fiber-optic lines and now Canada-based Ting has plans to bring its high-speed internet services—or “crazy fast internet,” as the company says—to town next year. Photo: Ting

The Villager reported on October 5, 2016 that three years ago voters in Centennial approved a measure allowing the city to lease its 48 miles of publicly owned fiber-optic lines and now Canada-based Ting has plans to bring its high-speed internet services—or “crazy fast internet,” as the company says—to town next year. Ting, an internet and wireless service provider, plans to begin hooking up to Centennial’s system by the end of the year and provide service by mid-2017. It would be the first firm to do so since voters allowed the city to create a nonexclusive broadband network from fiber-optic lines that have so far been used only for traffic-signal operations and connecting public facilities. The arguably underused city asset has been valued at $5 million..

Mayor Cathy Noon said it was an honor that Ting chose Centennial as its first Colorado market, after Centennial became among the first cities in the state to allow such deals. “The critical infrastructure has been in place throughout the city. We just needed the opportunity to partner with an organization such as Ting to provide service to our residents and businesses,” she said. Because the deal is nonexclusive, it is still possible for other companies to lease into Centennial’s fiber-optic network.

Ting is expected to provide faster and comparably priced Internet service at multiple tiers to residents and businesses in Centennial, offering what Ting says will be an improved alternative to internet sources currently available. “If you’re getting internet from your phone company or your cable company, you are getting it based on those technologies, which are not purpose-built to deliver internet, unlike fiber which is,” said Adam Eisner, VP of Networks for Ting Internet. “This is basically the fastest, strongest internet you’re going to get on a residential basis in North America.” Although service will initially be offered only in Centennial proper, Eisner says there is no reason Ting could not eventually grow into surrounding communities. “Once we build a network through town, it’s very easy to keep expanding, so we wouldn’t rule that out,” he said[63]

See also An Estimation of the Potential Impact of Fiber Penetration in Centennial on Tucows' Quarterly Earnings October 10, 2016

[edit] October 3, 2016: Tucows Insiders Sell Stock

Insider Trading Watch reported on October 3, 2016 that EVP Human Resources Goertz Carla Anne sold 20,708 shares for $665,247 on September 29, 2016.

Director Karp Allen sold 5,000 shares at an average price of $39.89 on September 29, 2016.

Director Nathan Schwartz sold 13,125 shares on on September 26, 2016.

Director Ralls Rawleigh Hazen IV sold 22,695 shares for $666,908 on September 23, 2016.[64]

[edit] September 29, 2016: Tucows Begins to Send Expired Domain Names to GoDaddy Auctions

Domain Name Wire reported on September 29, 2016 that GoDaddy Auctions has begun auctioning off Tucows’ expired domain name inventory. This is the first time GoDaddy has sold a third-party registrar’s expired domain name inventory. Tucows had been sending its expired domain name inventory to SnapNames, which is now a Web.com company. Before that, it partnered with NameJet. The inventory is direct-transfer inventory that is sold before it goes through the entire deletion cycle. Domain names that make it to pending delete can be picked up by any expired domain name service. "We can confirm that GoDaddy has launched a new product line to assist partner registrars to monetize their expiring domain feed using our GoDaddy Auctions platform," said GoDaddy Paul Nicks, VP of Aftermarket. "We launched today with one partner and will continue to add new partners as we expand the program. We are very excited about this as it allows more choice for our domain investors that use GoDaddy Auctions and provides another choice for registrars as well. Any registrar interested in joining our new expiry platform should contact Bob Mountain bmountain (at) godaddy.com, VP of Business Development for our Aftermarket."[65]

[edit] September 28, 2018: Tucows Stock (TCX) Increases $2.06 for New Closing High of $33.25

Tucows Stock (TCX) increases $2.06 for New Closing High of $33.25. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 993% since September 28, 2011. The S&P 500 has risen 87% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Tucows stock (TCX) rose $2.06 on September 28, 2016 for a new closing high of $33.25 on volume of 343,377, more than four times the normal average number of shares traded (73,136).

Tucows' stock price has risen 993% since September 28, 2011. The S&P 500 has risen 87% over the same period. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with the beginning of the rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price.

The market capitalization of Tucows now stands at 334 million.

Tucows stock has risen 16.9% over the last five trading days coinciding with Tucows' announcement on September 22, 2016 that Ting Internet will bring its fiber-optic network to the 107,000 residents of the Centennial, CO as early as next year. “In round terms, there are about 37,000 households in Centennial and about 4,000 to 5,000 registered businesses,” said Centennial councilman and mayor pro tem Charles “C.J.” Whelan. “If they get 20 to 30 percent penetration here, that will be a strong hit for [Ting].”

[edit] September 23, 2016: Ting Uses Adrian and Calix Solutions in its Gigabit Networks

Lightreading reported on September 23, 2016 that Ting uses a mixture of Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) and Calix Networks Inc. (NYSE: CALX) solutions in its gigabit networks, with ZyXEL Communications Corp. routers deployed to customer homes.[66]

[edit] September 22, 2016: Ting Looking for 20 Per Cent Fiber Penetration in Centennial in the First Year

The Denver Post reported on September 22, 2016 that if enough people are interested, Ting Internet will bring its fiber-optic network to residents of the city as early as next year and according to Centennial councilman and mayor pro tem Charles “C.J.” Whelan Ting wouldn’t have gotten this far without researching the demand. “In round terms, there are about 37,000 households in Centennial and about 4,000 to 5,000 registered businesses,” Whelan said. “If they get 20 to 30 percent penetration here, that will be a strong hit for them.”

Ting charges $89 a month per household for 1 gbps service up and down, plus a $200 installation fee, confirmed Tucows CEO Elliot Noss while businesses pay $139 a month. You can cancel anytime. But in order to get fiber to a user’s house, Ting will either dig up streets to lay cables in the ground or run them in the air over existing telephone lines. If you leave the service, Ting owns the lines. “There are very few companies other than Google and ourselves that are doing what we’re doing,” Noss said. “Generally for us, communities are approaching us.”

Noss shared the economics of Ting entering a market: they need a 20 percent penetration rate in the first year and 50 percent after five years. The cost of connecting a home is about $2,500 to $3,000

Centennial’s partnership with Ting isn’t exclusive, Whelan said. “They are the first at this point, the only ones that have stepped out to add this to our city,” Whelan said. “If there are others, we would look at them as well. Ting has stepped up and we are excited about it.” In the Denver area, Comcast and CenturyLink are offering gigabit internet. But CenturyLink’s service is available only in certain locations. Comcast offers up to 2 gbps for residential customers for $300 a month with a two-year contract.[67]

[edit] September 21, 2016: Ting to Bring Fiber to Centennial, Colorado (Pop 107,000)

Ting to Bring Fiber to Centennial, Colorado (Pop 107,000). Ting will be bringing fiber to Centennial, CO, population 107,201 (2014 Census), the largest Ting town by population to date. “Centennial has been refreshing to work with", said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows. “Centennial’s approach to partnering with Ting has been excellent. They have found a great balance between being business-friendly while deeply serving the needs of their citizens. They understand how these need not be in conflict.” Photo: Kent Kanouse Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Tucows announced on September 21, 2016 that Ting will be bringing fiber to Centennial, CO, population 107,201 (2014 Census), the largest Ting town by population to date. “Centennial has been refreshing to work with", said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows. “Centennial’s approach to partnering with Ting has been excellent. They have found a great balance between being business-friendly while deeply serving the needs of their citizens. They understand how these need not be in conflict.”

“Having Centennial as Ting Internet’s first Colorado market is an honor and one that we are very excited about. The critical infrastructure has been in place throughout the City, we just needed the opportunity to partner with an organization such as Ting to provide service to our residents and businesses,” says Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon. “I would like to recognize and thank Council Members Whelan, Piko and Lucas for serving on the fiber steering committee. Their leadership and guidance has led us to see the City’s dark fiber network become a reality.”

“Ting Internet in Centennial will enable faster and more affordable Internet services for both residents and businesses,” says Mayor Pro Tem and District 4 Council Member Charles “C.J.” Whelan, just as the City’s Fiber Master Plan intended. Technology, and in particular connectivity to the Internet, has become essential to everyday life, so much so that we experience withdrawals when it is not there. Data connectivity needs to be efficient and readily available, and it is at its best when it, ‘just works’ and you don’t have to think even about it. Bringing such a high level of service to Centennial is what makes this collaboration with Ting so exciting."

Pre-orders are being accepted in Centennial starting September 21, 2016. Ting takes a gauge of demand on the ground by raising awareness of gigabit fiber Internet and then opening up to accept pre-orders. "Pre-orders determine not just whether Ting Internet comes to a town, but they also impact where network construction begins," said Adam Eisner, VP of Networks for Ting Internet.

To get to the pre-order stage, a town passes a series of checks and balances: availability of a fiber backbone, population, density, local permitting and many other factors are considered before Ting Internet formally expresses its intent to bring crazy fast fiber Internet service to a town.[68]

[edit] September 7, 2016: Google Fiber Wins Faster Access to Utility Poles in Nashville over AT&T’s Objections

Jon Brodkin wrote at Ars Technica on September 7, 2016 that the Nashville Metro Council has voted 32-7 to give Google Fiber faster access to utility poles, approving an ordinance opposed by AT&T and Comcast. AT&T has already said it would likely sue the city if it implements the new rule. Google Fiber is available in parts of Nashville, but expansion has been slow in part because of how long it takes to get access to utility poles. The One Touch Make Ready ordinance would let a single company—such as Google Fiber—make all of the necessary wire adjustments itself without having to wait for incumbent providers to send construction crews. Google Fiber applauded the vote last night, saying that "Improving the make-ready construction process is key to unlocking access to a faster Internet for Nashville, and this Ordinance will allow new entrants like Google Fiber to bring broadband to more Nashvillians efficiently, safely and quickly."[69]

[edit] September 7, 2016: Ting Fiber Hosts Hiring Event in Charlottesville

The Augusta Press reported on September 7, 2016 that the City of Charlottesville Downtown Job Center will host a recruitment fair September 8, 2016 to help Ting find qualified employees. The recruitment fair is being held from 10am-1pm at Carver Recreation Center located at 233 4th St NW, Charlottesville, VA 22903. The company is hiring numerous Underground Cable Technicians and Installation Technicians, as well as supervisory and management positions. Technician jobs start in the $30,000 range. Ting recruiters will be present to answer questions and offer details about the various jobs. Interviews will be conducted onsite. The hiring turnaround time is expected to be fast.[70]

[edit] September 5, 2016: Tucows Directors Sell Stock

Community Financial News reported on September 5, 2016 that Tucows Director Rawleigh Hazen Iv Ralls sold 50,000 shares of Tucows stock in a transaction dated September 6, 2016. The shares were sold at an average price of $27.46, for a total transaction of $1,373,000.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 281,575 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,732,049.50.

Tucows Director Erez Gissin sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1, 2016. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.25, for a total value of $272,500.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 7,300 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $198,925.[71]

[edit] August 30, 2016: Installation of Fiber Infrastructure Continues in Sandpoint

The Bonner County Daily Bee reported on August 30, 2016 that Fatbeam, a company that installs fiber infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain region, recently entered into an agreement with the Sandpoint, Bonner County and the Lake Pend Oreille School District to build a 49-mile, high-capacity fiber optic network connecting the district's 13 facilities, including 11 schools and district offices. Fiber Internet will allow every school to have a 1 gigabit connection to the district offices, which will, in turn, have a 1 gigabit Internet connection. That is more than three times faster for the district offices, Brass said, and 10 to 20 times faster for the schools. The company expects to have the "core," which includes all Sandpoint schools, installed by June or July 2017. The remainder of the schools, including Hope, Sagle and Clark Fork areas, done between fall, 2017 and spring, 2018. The city of Sandpoint has been installing fiber infrastructure under the streets of the city for several years during road construction projects. City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton expects to have the city's administration buildings, such as City Hall, "lit" by the end of September.[72]

Ting, a subsidiary of the Internet service company Tucows, recently announced Sandpoint as its next destination. Adam Eisner, director of networks at Ting, said the company is ready to bring gigabit Internet to the area. Ting has been working with the city to leverage from the infrastructure the city is providing, he added. "Our intent and hope in Sandpoint is to take advantage of that to build into the various parts of the Sandpoint area," Eisner said. Eisner said he is unsure when Ting will be in the area, but hopes to have areas of the city lit by early next year. He said Ting aims to provide service in the cities surrounding Sandpoint as well. Eisner said one thing that is unique is there is no data caps or contracts — everything is month-to-month. "What you see is what you get, which has been really popular because it's very straightforward and very transparent," Eisner said.[73]

[edit] August 19, 2016: Smaller Communities Strategize to Take Their Internet Future into Their Own Hands

The American Prospect reported on August 19, 2016 that for years, nearly 40 percent of people in rural America have been saddled with slow internet speeds and no opportunity to get broadband internet services which provide fast connections. Now local governments have been fighting back by building their own municipal broadband networks. For more than 150 communities across the country, a core benefit of building their own networks is the ability to separate the infrastructure from the private ISPs. For example, the city of Westminster, Maryland, has hired Ting, a private company, to operate its network of fiber optic cables and provide servers for internet access. If city officials decide that they no longer want to use Ting, they can look for another company to operate its network. But the city still owns the valuable infrastructure that it financed and built. (italics mine)

In June, U.S. Court of Appeals’ D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality decision, but the issue of municipalities building their own networks remains unsettled and, for the moment, the Sixth Circuit ruling has put a damper on municipal efforts to bring the internet to unserved and underserved communities. “What stands behind this whole debate is whether broadband access is like a utility,” says Tim Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, a democracy advocacy group that was at the forefront of the fight for net neutrality. “We’re beyond that debate. Local government, state government, and the federal government all have an obligation to ensure everyone has access to open networks.”

The established ISPs have largely operated under the radar until now but as more people recognize that the industry giants’ power is not based on free-market competition, those companies have good reason to be uneasy. “It’s an exciting moment for an incredible new coalition of people—workers, people who need access to the internet, tech champions—all coming together to push out a really different vision,” says Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat running for New York’s 19th congressional district seat. “The big companies are running scared, and they should be.”

Hillary Clinton has expressed support for increasing competition and innovation as a way to reinvigorate the economy. Clinton specifically highlighted Westminster, Maryland’s community broadband initiative (operated by Ting) in her technology plan. In a 2014 tweet Donald Trump declared that “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine.”[74]

[edit] August 18, 2016: Tucows Enters into New Secured Credit Agreement for up to $75 million

Globalnewswire reported on August 18, 2016 that Tucows has entered into a new, syndicated five-year secured credit agreement for up to US$75 million, inclusive of a $15 million accordion facility, with Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada. The 2016 Credit Facility will be used to support share repurchases, acquisitions and capital expenditures associated with the Company's Fiber-to-the-Home program, as well as general working capital and general corporate requirements. "As planned, this new expanded credit facility provides us with additional financial resources and flexibility to support the ongoing build out of fiber infrastructure for Ting Internet," said Elliot Noss. This new facility refinanced and replaced the Company's current US$14 million credit facility with BMO.[75]




Comment on October 4, 2016: Tucows estimates that it costs about $2,500 to wire a home for fiber. According to Hugh Pickens, an investor in Tucows who follows the company closely, the $75 million line of credit would allow Ting to wire 30,000 homes.




[edit] August 15, 2016: Google’s High-Speed Web Plans Hit Snags

The Wall Street Journal reported on August 15, 2016 that Google Fiber has spent hundreds of millions dollars digging up streets and laying fiber-optic cables in a handful of cities to offer web connections roughly 30 times faster than the U.S. average but is now rethinking its high-speed internet business after initial rollouts proved more expensive and time consuming than anticipated, a stark contrast to the fanfare that greeted its launch six years ago. The company is trying to cut costs and accelerate its expansion by leasing existing fiber or asking cities or power companies to build the networks instead of building its own. “If you’re in the telecommunications industry for 150 years, there are no surprises here,” said Jonathan Reichental, chief technology officer of the city of Palo Alto, Calif. “But if you’re a software company getting into the business for the first time, this is a completely new world.”

Google Fiber last month bought Webpass Inc., a company that beams internet service from a fiber-connected antenna to another antenna mounted on an apartment building. Webpass Chief Executive Charles Barr, now an Alphabet employee, said wireless offers an opportunity to overcome the challenging economics of building fiber networks from scratch. “Everyone who has done fiber to the home has given up because it costs way too much money and takes way too much time."

Some analysts have long suspected that Google Fiber's primary goal was to prod other broadband firms to increase their speeds. AT&T, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, which recently was acquired by Charter Communications Inc., have done so in some competing markets. Google Fiber insists that fiber to the home is a real business. “We continue to see Fiber as a huge market opportunity,” Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat told investors last month. “We’re being thoughtful and deliberate in our execution path.”[76]

[edit] August 12, 2016: Sandpoint Makes Great Strides on Fiber Internet

The Bonner County Daily Bee reported on August 12, 2016 that the city of Sandpoint has been installing a fiber optic network underground for at least five years, and City Hall should be "lit up" with the faster, more reliable Internet by the end of September. City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said the city has been installing the infrastructure for a fiber network during road construction projects over the years, which has "significantly" lowered the cost of installation. The city has spent a total of around $250,000 installing the infrastructure for the first phase of the project, which runs from the city's water treatment plant and throughout the downtown area to City Hall. Jack Maytum, the city's consultant from Design Nine, said the city installed two conduits that are two inches in diameter, and each conduit holds 144 strands of fiber. One conduit line is dedicated to administration use by the city to connect its buildings and keep services like 911 secure. The second line will be an open access network that can be leased out to private companies to provide service to businesses and residences. "The city is not in the business of providing cable services," Maytum said. "The city is simply in the business of building the infrastructure, just like building a road."

Ting, a subsidiary of the Internet service company Tucows, recently announced Sandpoint as its next destination. Adam Eisner, director of networks at Ting, said the company is ready to bring gigabit Internet to the area. Ting has been working with the city to leverage from the infrastructure the city is providing, he added. "Our intent and hope in Sandpoint is to take advantage of that to build into the various parts of the Sandpoint area," Eisner said. Eisner said he is unsure when Ting will be in the area, but hopes to have areas of the city lit by early next year. He said Ting aims to provide service in the cities surrounding Sandpoint as well. Eisner said one thing that is unique is there is no data caps or contracts — everything is month-to-month. "What you see is what you get, which has been really popular because it's very straightforward and very transparent," Eisner said.[77]

[edit] August 8, 2016: Tucows Reports Strong Quarter for Q2 2016

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through August 8, 2016. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 871% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 74% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.
Incremental Contribution from Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows EBITDA Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows Net Income Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

See also:

[edit] Quarterly Revenue Increased 13% YOY

Tucows announced on August 8, 2016 that revenue for the second quarter of 2016 increased 11% from Q2 2015 to $47.5 million from $42.9 million for the second quarter of 2015.[78]

[edit] Net Income for the Year Increased 78% YOY

Tucows announced on August 8, 2016 that net income for the second quarter of 2016 increased 78% to $4.1 million or $0.39 per share from $2.3 million, or $0.21 per share, for the second quarter of 2015.[79]

[edit] Adjusted EBITDA for the Year Increased 64% YOY

Tucows announced on August 8, 2016 that adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter of 2016 increased 64% from $4.3 million in Q2 2015 to $7.1 million in Q2 2016.[80]

[edit] Tucows Has Changed the Way the Company Computes EBITDA

Michael Cooperman told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that that Tucows has amended the definition of adjusted EBITDA to adhere to the SEC compliance update. "We have again modified the definition for adjusted EBITDA this quarter. Essentially, this was in response to clarification guidance issued on May 17 of this year by the SEC in a compliance and disclosure interpretations update regarding non-GAAP measures. That guidance indicated that adjusting earnings for deferred revenue may not be consistent with disclosure rules," said Cooperman. "Following discussions with our audit committee and auditors, we concluded that we still believe adjusted EBITDA is a useful metric for our investors; however, we thought that the prudent path forward would be to amend the definition of adjusted EBITDA to adhere to the SEC compliance update. Accordingly, we are revised our definition of adjusted EBITDA to eliminate the adjustments for the effect of net deferred revenue to reflect net revenue on an earned basis. For those of you wishing to compute our adjusted EBITDA in our prior definitions, this can be done with reference to our disclosure financials and our MD&A. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter increased 64% to 7.1 million from 4.3 million in the corresponding periods of last year."[81]

See the *Calculation of Tucows' New Adjusted EBITDA under the SEC Compliance Update

[edit] Tucows Reiterates Adjusted EBITDA guidance of $30 million for 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Tucows is happy to reiterate our existing 2016 adjusted EBITDA guidance of $30 million.[82]

[edit] Tucows Invested $5 million to Buy Back 210,000 Shares

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Tucows invested $5 million to purchase just under 210,000 shares in Q2. "I noted that with respect to our open market buyback program, we will be less active in some quarters and more active in others. As Mike discussed, it was a relatively active quarter in this regard as we invested $5 million to purchase just under 210,000 shares, we continue to be able to comfortably balance CapEx spend, stock repurchases and probably most importantly solid growth and profitability. All-in-all, Q2 was a good quarter for both the present and in the future. "[83]

[edit] August 8, 2016: Ting Mobile Growth Slows with 4,000 Net Adds in Q2

[edit] Ting Mobile Had Net Adds of 4,000 Accounts and 6,000 Devices in Q2 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Mobile added 4,000 accounts and 6,000 devices in Q2 to bring Ting's total to 144,000 accounts and 227,000 devices[84]

Ting Mobile previously added 12,000 net adds in Q1 2016. However this figure included a one time influx of 7,000 new customers from Ptel when they went out of business. According to Tucows, net adds have been going down over the past year dropping from 10,000 net adds a year ago in Q2 2015 to 4,000 this quarter. According to calculations by Hugh Pickens, a long term investor in Tucows who follows the company closely, gross adds have dropped from 18,475 to 14,368 over the same period.

2015: Q2 2015: Q3 2015: Q4 2016: Q1 2016: Q2
Total Customers 113,000 122,000 128,000 140,000 144,000
Net Adds this Quarter 10,000 9,000 6,000 5,000 w/o Ptel
12,000 with Ptel
4,000
Quarterly Churn Rate 7.50% 7.50% 8.20% 7.17% 7.20%
Churned Customers 8,475 9,150 10,496 10,038 10,368
Gross Adds 18,475 18,150 16,496 15,038 w/o Ptel
22,038 with Ptel
14,368

Note: Q1 2016 Gross adds and Net adds includes a one time influx of 7,000 new customers from Ptel when Ptel went out of business.

[edit] Ting Mobile's Churn Rate Stayed at about 2.4%

Number of Ting Mobile Customers Note: Ting started in February 2012. Prior to the earnings report for 2013:Q4 Tucows did not break out the number of customers or devices so the number of customers in Q1 through Q3 for 2013 is estimated. (Click on chart to expand.)
Gross Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.) Note: In Q1 2016 Ting Mobile had a one-time influx of 7,000 customers, migrating from PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, that closed its doors.
Chart 6: Churned Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Net Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.) Note: In Q1 2016 Ting Mobile had a one-time influx of 7,000 customers, migrating from PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, that closed its doors.

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that churn was 2.4% in Q2 2016 in line with 2.39% in Q1 2016.

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Noss said that he didn't expect net adds to get worse. "So I think that the way we’re thinking about it is, we certainly don’t think it's going to get worse. We hope that few of the pieces that we’re focusing on are going to get better. So, there is all of the little things, we’ve talked about some of those and with each of those, whether it's retail or some of the tactical programs. We’re seeing a little bit more and a little bit more from them. The two big things hopefully the two that we think might have kind of real kicked to them are the price drop and some of the targeting of new segments that we’re looking at. We’re talking more probably on the next quarter’s call about some of our specific plan there. On this call just to repeat in case you missed that as well, we’re going to start taking some marketing dollars and throwing them at slightly different segment, little bit less tax savvy, a little bit lower income and frankly a little bit older. We think that there is some opportunity is there. And that’s something that we’re hoping that we can get some real contributions from."[85]

[edit] Ting's Acquisition Costs Remain at About $100 per Customer But Could Go Higher If Ting Finds Things That Work at That Level

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting continues to acquire new customers for less than a $100.[86]

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that he is comfortable taking that $100 number up to $110, $120, even $150 if Ting Mobile finds things that work at those levels. "I think that in the plan that we have that are sitting right in front of us right now, we think that will be generally within the same parameters that we’ve had to-date. I think that if we see a breakout over that top range, will be very -- will tell you all about it and we’ll give you detail. I have said in the past that few times, you know, boy, I am comfortable taking that some $100 number up to $110, $120, even $150. There is nothing that’s kind of sitting on the table right now that I think will start to quite get that high, but boy if we were finding things that work at those levels, I think we push on them. And so, we’ll give you as much visibility as we can as soon as we can."[87]

[edit] Ting Had a Defection of 1,000 New Customers from the One-Time Influx Migrating from Ptel

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that about 1000 of the former Platinumtel Wireless customers that came over to Ting from Ptel in Q1 defected once they had used the free service credits Ting gave them. "That is almost inevitable with any migration of that nature, and we are still quite happy with the bump we got there for the price, but it does mean that the 12,000 net ads we reported in Q1 were inflated as we noted and the 3,000 net ads were reporting for Q2 are of course deflated. "[88]

[edit] Ting Reduced Their Data Pricing for Higher Data Users by 33%

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting has made a significant reduction in data pricing for higher data users and now charge $10 per gigabyte for usage beyond 1 gigabyte, a 33% reduction from $15.

With this price drop, we are no longer just the smart choice for low data users. We offer an even more overwhelming majority of Americans substantial potential saving on their monthly cell phone bills and with our approvals usage, and low monthly line fee, we’re pretty much in numerator for families, small businesses or any account with multiple devices. I am also very proud of how we implemented our price changes of thing unlike typical industry promotions and plans intended to attract new customers, without sacrificing revenue on existing customers, we simply drop prices for everyone. Ting customers do not need to take any action to see their data prices drop next billing cycle. We did this back in 2014 and found that the appreciation and word of mouth we got from our existing customers was the best possible marketing our money could buy. As I said, we announced the new pricing late last week, but I am hopeful that both the buzz and those more favorable savings calculations will give us a lift in customers in the second half of Q3. We were able to lower our supply cost which is what allowed us to make this move.[89]

[edit] Gross Margins for Ting Mobile are in the 45% to 50% Range

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that the cost reductions in data usage keep Ting Mobile very comfortably within Ting's 45% to 50% gross margin target. "As most of you know, we were out the top-end of our guidance range in gross margin."[90]

[edit] Marketing Expenses and Network Access Expenses Have Increased for Ting Mobile

Michael Cooperman told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that marketing expenses increased by 450,000 when compared to the second quarter of last year primarily to support and acquire Ting Mobile and Ting Internet customers. "And second, professional fees credit card processing fees, stock based compensation and travel increased by 0.5 million primarily to support the growth of Ting network access services. Third, workforce related expenses increased by 450,000 primarily to support the growth of network access services. "[91]

[edit] Ting is Starting to See its Biggest Opportunities Among Populations that are Less Technical, Less Affluent and Politely Less Young

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting is starting to see itsbiggest opportunities among populations that are "less technical, less affluent and politely less young. We recognized that the people who would benefit the most from our rate plan and the handholding we provide in customer support are likely not on the niche blogs and forum where we have enjoyed the most exposure. And the good news there is that this is also the customer group that has a greatest depreciation for value, not the least reason being because they are also the ones most often paying the phone bill."[92]

[edit] Ting Is Starting to Explore More Traditional Marketing Channels

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting is starting to explore some more traditional channels. "I will reveal more on that as some of these experience materialize and this will not be with Super Bowl ads or other spend that will drive customer acquisition through the roof. We continue to grow our existing distribution partners, Kroger, Staples, Amazon and pound the favorite looking for more. We continue to experiment with affiliate partnerships and in fact have seen some encouraging scalable results with employer benefit program."[93]

[edit] Ting Continues to Optimize Purchase Staff on the Website with AB Testing and Improved Conversion

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting continues to optimize its purchase staff on the website with AB testing and its sales team on the phones to improve conversion in events of growing awareness and consideration.[94]

[edit] Ting Is Partnering with Makers of Standalone Smart Devices

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting is discovering some interesting partnership opportunities with makers of standalone smart devices.

These are often being marketed and distributed internationally with an empty SIM card slot, so that end users in each country can choose their own service provider. These manufactures like Ting because our rate plan is perfect for the sort of tactical usage they see on their devices and because our customer support will enhance their customer experience. We love the source of new customers that could eventually bring their primary smartphones as well. The first of these partnerships is with brands called [TVtel]. A successful kick-start adventure that produces a simple, wearable device designed for young children. They shipped a small initial batch to U.S. customers in Q2 and will be shipping more in Q3. A Ting SIM card with instructions activate will be included in every box. As we cautioned last quarter, our renewed sales and marketing efforts will take time, but we’re excited about the price drop and the opportunities to expand our awareness in our customer base, and we look forward to seeing the numbers grow in the quarter’s ahead.[95]

[edit] August 8, 2016: Ting Internet Had a Very Positive Quarter

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Q2 was a very positive quarter for Ting Internet.[96]

[edit] Virtually all Residents of Charlottesville Will be Able to Order Ting Fiber by the End of the Year

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that in Charlottesville, Ting saw demand for our service jump to a new level and and just as importantly our capacities have fulfilled that demand. In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that the vast majority or virtually all residents of Charlottesville will be able to order Ting fiber by the end of the year.[97]

Our advertising partnerships and events have given us brand awareness. We are getting better and better at every step of the process from building out the network to taking orders and scheduling installs, to performing those installs more efficiently to permitting. And we continue to see the same sort of customer satisfaction and advocacy with Ting Internet to propel the business on Ting Mobile. We also activated our first large bulk deal multi-dwelling unit or MDU in Q2. A 234 unit apartment complex called Jefferson Ridge Apartment Homes. Residents of these apartments now have 10 gigabyte internet service included in their monthly rent and residences in other large residential buildings in Charlottesville are starting to pressure the landlords to offer the same. In Westminster, where the city is building the fiber network and we currently have less than 300 serviceable addresses, the next phase of construction has been delayed a bit because of fiber shortages. That phase is just beginning now and should give us over 2,700 serviceable homes and businesses by 2017.[98]

[edit] Ting Internet Expects to Have Homes in the neighborhood of Holly Glen in Holly Springs Connected by the end of 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet expects to have homes in the Holly Glen neighborhood in the city of Holly Springs connected by the end of 2016. "Holly Glen earned that position by having the most pre-orders and we will continue to use pre-orders to demonstrate demand."[99] Note: Holly Glen is the first neighborhood in the city of Holly Springs where Ting will begin installing fiber.

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet will be through the first two or three neighborhood rolls outs this year. "We’re going to be through the first two or three depending on how to build rolls out neighborhood this year. And I’m quite happy with that given that it’s all underground and given that, this is kind of the first planned community we’re just breaking ground there and certainly in our planning and our internal models where we're everywhere or where most neighborhood that we’re going to build out to by the end of next year."[100]

[edit] Ting Internet Expects to Be Taking the Next Steps in Sandpoint Soon

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet is getting pretty close to taking the next steps in Sandpoint. "They had a process, it’s probably four or five years in the making at this point. So these things really- really do ripe in both unevenly and over long period of time. And all that being said, Pat, I feel good about I won’t be surprised if in '17 I’m starting to make some capital trade off. I can't tell you, if that's a summer or the end of ’17, but I feel like there is lots of going."[101]

[edit] Ting Continues to See Cost Per Wired Home at about $2,500 to $3,000

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet continues to see the cost per wired home at about $2,500 but this will vary from town-to-town and may be closer to $3,000 in some markets.

As we begin construction at Holly Springs, it is worth reiterating that the $2,500 per customer number that we have outlined will vary from town-to-town based on the nature of the build. In Holly Springs for example, we will be extending the fiber primarily underground rather than across poles and the lot sizes are bigger than in most markets. There are also very few MDUs at Holly Springs. MDUs of course tend to bring down the average cost per customer with their density. We decided to blend the $2,500 spend per customer at our desired adoption rates of 20% in the first year and 50% in five years. In Holly Springs, we’re projecting closer to $3,000, again with an average of $1,000 in margin on Ting Internet and very-very low churn, we are still perfectly happy with the cash-on-cash returns there.[102]

[edit] Ting Internet is Learning More About Capital Flows in Terms of Timing and Amount

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet islearning much more about how capital flows through this project in terms of timing and amount. "This gives us more visibility into our CapEx spend through the end of 2016 and help teach us how to best plan for 2017 and beyond. We now expect CapEx to come in between $10 million and $15 million in 2016. For the future, the most important tactical work we are doing is improving growth as at Ting Mobile. We’re starting to see some slivers of improvement, learning would have not working with others and most importantly started to get a better sense of where the push harder long-term in order to create greater awareness."[103]

[edit] Ting Internet is Learning How to Scale and Effectively Deliver Installs

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet is learning how to scale and effectively deliver installs. "At Ting Internet, we are learning everyday and applying that learning with each new neighborhood build and every new channel we engage with," said Noss. "We are learning how to market hyper locally. We showed strong growth in gross margin as mobile growth. We showed strong growth in operating margins due to the scalability of our model, and we’re doing the right work to position us well to deliver continued growth for both the short-and long-terms."[104]

[edit] Ting Was Prepared for the Nationwide Shortage of Fiber Optic Cable

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that there has been a shortage in the U.S. of supplier fiber optic cable. "I am pleased that we protected ourselves ahead of this shortage by securing and storing large amounts of fiber for our project by dealing with suppliers globally. "[105]

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that the time frame is absolutely still intact. "I mean the numbers we’re talking about at this stage of the ramp are small relative to the total picture. I think probably if anything just with what I am seeing, I think, I mean, it'd have to really sort of move some levers around in my head. But we’re quite comfortable where we were with those numbers because what we’re seeing is interest that’s in line or more with what we expected. And by that, I mean from towns and how quickly we’ll be able to build out, how quickly we’ll be able to get things online."[106]

[edit] Ting Internet's Pipeline of New Cities is Full and Ting Expects to Be Sharing New Locations by the End of the Year

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet's pipeline of new cities is full and Ting expects to be sharing additional locations before the end of the year. In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting expects to be making announcements later this year that will represent a nice bucket of serviceable addresses.

I think that as I am going to and you know something I debated kind of putting into the script this quarter, the most important economic unit in the fiber business is serviceable addresses, not cities. And so the bigger the city, the more addresses there are. There is something that’s a couple of times the size of Charlottesville have 10 standpoints. And so I've thinking about and then you kind of go through the sales cycle at a city level. So I have been thinking about how to communicate that well. I think that between now and at the end of the year, we’re going to be making announcements that will represent a nice bucket of serviceable addresses. So let me just say that for now.[107]

[edit] Ting Internet Has Submitted a Proposal for Boulder, Colorado

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that there is a publicly available broadband feasibility study document for the City of Boulder, Colorado and Ting is on record as having submitted a proposal. "Examining Boulder gives a sense of just how long and complicated the road to fiber can be for these towns. Boulder has great fiber assets and has gotten great work from industry consultants, but still has many options to analyze and consider including choices along the spectrum from public to private. Towns that publicly fund their fiber network like Westminster are making an investment that the town will benefit from 10, 20 and even a 100 years from now. I have endorsed that approach many times in the past but it isn't more difficult road. Understandably, towns that choose to invite private companies like us to build an operator network will have fiber a lot sooner and as long they are chosen partner in the company like Ting, their customers will receive excellent treatment and fair pricing."[108]

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that nothing is going to happen in Boulder in a hurry.

I would say that this is certainly like a duck paddling. There is a lot more going on under the surface than you see on the surface. I should note that Boulder which you’re seeing a lot publicly about or you and others can see a lot of sort of public facing information about is probably not super high on our list. We love that market but what came out of that city council meeting were the council half wanted to go private, half were really considering public private partnership, and I think they should make the right decision, not the fast decision. And so nothing is going to happen in Boulder in a hurry. So I think it’s a great example, you see a lot in Boulder but that’s not near the top of the list. And I think the other thing about that part is these processes, the thing that I most want people to take away from that Boulder thing is, imagine if there is -- if what happen in Boulder, happen the week after the call, not sort of a month or so before the call. And we might have been talking but you might have been rightly talking about, hey, publicly you’re one of the three finalists who are in RFI in 100,000 population town. Tell me about that and then a week later, it’s kind of well deferred. Some of these cities have had processes that I’ve been going on for years.[109]

[edit] Ting Internet Is Seeing Requests for Information Coming in Every Month

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet is seeing more requests for information and proposals coming in from towns every month. "One thing that is clear is the upgrading internet infrastructure and providing faster internet speed is getting increasing attention throughout the United States," said Noss. "Candidates for public office highlighted in their tech platforms as Hillary Clinton did recently naming Westminster Maryland as an example of the new model of the public private partnerships."[110]

[edit] Ting Internet is Starting to See Other Fiber Players Become More Active

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Ting Internet is starting to see other fiber players become more active. "People asked me whether I am concerned about increasing competition. There were 20,000 cities and towns in the U.S., Ting Internet needs only a tiny fraction of them to have a booming business.[111]

[edit] August 8, 2016: Domain Services Had Another Quarter of Solid Performance

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Tucows' Domain Services saw another quarter of solid performance which was punctuated by the acquisition of the international wholesale reseller channel of Melbourne IT on April 1st.[112]

[edit] Tucows' Wholesale Channel Has Almost 15 million Domains Under Management

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that the acquisition of the reseller base outside of MIT’s domestic market of Australia, New Zealand added hundreds of resellers and approximately 1.6 million domains under management bringingthe total number of domains under management in Tucows' wholesale channel to just shy of 15 million mark. "The migration of the acquired MIT resellers and domains is for the most part now complete and I’m pleased to report that the feedback from our new customers has generally been positive."[113]

[edit] Wholesaler Growth Increased 14% YOY

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that Tucows' expanded reseller channel contributed to a healthy 14% year-over-year growth in total wholesale registrations during the quarter with both new registration and renewal growth in line with that our overall number.[114]

[edit] The Number of Launches of new gTLDs Has Slowed to a Trickle

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 second quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that in terms of new gTLDs, the number of launches has slowed to a trickle. "The story here is now more of the quality than quantity. In this regard, we're anticipating new gTLDs for us. '.blog', will go live during Q4. So the exciting new gTLDs that we think has tremendous potential. In addition, '.web' has now been resolved with Verisign, so we'll wait to hear what's the plans are for this gTLD. The number of resellers who have registered to this one new gTLD grew to more than 2,650, up about 5% from the end of Q1 this year, and 27% from the end of Q1 last year."[115]

[edit] August 5, 2016: Ting Drops Data Prices 33%

Andrew Moore-Crispin reported on the Ting Blog that Ting has dropped data prices from $15 to $10 per gigabyte beyond the 1 GB Medium level, a price reduction of about 33%. "We have wholesale relationships with our carrier partners and we’re always looking to get the best deal we can for our customers," writes Moore-Crispin. "We have been working with said carrier partners to negotiate better data rates for some time. We were successful and as was always the plan, we’re passing those savings on to our customers, new and old, immediately."[116][117]

"This remains a genuine price drop," said Bertel King, Jr. at Android Police. "There's no trickery going on to get consumers spending more. Ting customers who use the same amount of data this month as last month will see a smaller bill. Nice." King noted that Ting's last previous price reduction in data was in February, 2014.[118] Debarshi Nayak writes at Android Headlines that Ting's data price is now the same as what Google's Project Fi charges per GB of data. "But Project Fi, owned and operated by Google, has a significant disadvantage. It can only be used on Nexus devices, where Ting supports any unlocked phone," writes Nayak. "The other advantage Ting has over its competitors is the highly customizable family plans, which lets the user have granular control over sharing amount of data, messages and minutes among multiple connections. The lower prices position Ting as a formidable competitor to other competitors in the MVNO market."[119]

[edit] July 8, 2016: What Has Ting Learned from a Year of Internet Support?

Ross Rader, VP of Ting Customer Experience, has a video on the Ting Blog where he talks about the differences between providing support on Ting Mobile and Ting Internet and what Ting has learned supporting internet for the past year. According to Rader, one of the primary differences between the two support processes is that Ting Internet owns its network allowing Ting to have complete visibility with everything that is going on in the fiber network. "We don't have that visibility with Ting Mobile because at a certain point we have to ask our partners (Sprint and T-Mobile) what is going on with that tower, or is there construction going on in that area," says Rader. "With the internet we know what is going on with construction in that area and what is going on with the equipment in the house."

Rader says that there is also a lot more information available for support personnel on Ting Internet so Ting Support can build a support process that is a lot more comprehensive and a lot more thorough that allows Ting to hand off much later to a third party than with mobile. "The quality of support we can provide with internet exceeds the potential quality we can provide with mobile and that is really exciting. I don't think we are there yet. We have a lot of work to do and a lot ahead of us but it is an exciting path and one I am looking forward to.[120]

[edit] July 4, 2016: Why Tech Support Is Unbearable at Most Companies and Why Ting is the Exception

Getting caught in a tech support loop — waiting on hold, interacting with automated systems, talking to people reading from unhelpful scripts and then finding yourself on hold yet again — is a peculiar kind of aggravation that mental health experts say can provoke rage in even the most mild-mannered person. Kate Murphy wrote at the New York Times on July 4, 2016 in an article titled "Why Tech Support Is (Purposely) Unbearable' that just as you suspected, most companies are aware of the torture they are putting you through as 92 percent of customer service managers say their agents could be more effective and 74 percent say their company procedures prevented agents from providing satisfactory experiences. “Don’t think companies haven’t studied how far they can take things in providing the minimal level of service,” says Justin Robbins, who was once a tech support agent himself and now oversees research and editorial at ICMI. “Some organizations have even monetized it by intentionally engineering it so you have to wait an hour at least to speak to someone in support, and while you are on hold, you’re hearing messages like, ‘If you’d like premium support, call this number and for a fee, we will get to you immediately.’”

Hugh Pickens comments: In Consumer Reports annual cell-phone service comparison for the past two years running Ting has come out on top as the best mobile wireless provider with a company rating of 91 out of 100 because of their excellent service and customer support. So why is Ting the exception to the rule on customer support? "I think it is because at most companies, customer support is an afterthought - something the company has to say that they provide in order to sell their cable modems or battery chargers," says Hugh Pickens, a long term investor who closely follows Ting and Tucows. "I think most companies know that their sales are 'one of' and poor customer support is not going to have much of an effect on repeat sales and their bottom line." Ting, on the other hand, sells a monthly service and if customer support is unsatisfactory, it is very easy for consumers to change to a different MVNO says Pickens. "Ting realized early on that customer support was the key differentiator between them and other MVNOs. Ting's business model will only work if they make excellent customer support into a core competency."[121]

[edit] June 28, 2016: Clinton Campaign Praises Ting's Westminster Broadband Project

The Carroll County Times reported on June 28, 2016 that as a part of Hillary Clinton's tech policy, she points to Huntsville, Ala., and Westminster, Md., as positive examples of communities implementing broadband and attracting businesses. That's an endorsement that Jason Stambaugh, a marketing consultant for the City of Westminster, said everyone can take some bipartisan pride in. "Providing ultra-fast broadband and high-speed internet to folks is a huge economic development driver in this country. I don't care who the presidential candidate is, it's something they are all going to care about," Stambaugh said. "We're happy to be out in front of the pack on that and very delighted that presidential candidate Clinton gave us some props in the media."

Stambaugh was in attendance recently at an open house at Ting, the internet service provider company that has partnered with the city to operate the fiber network as it grows — with a small pilot phase now complete, about 2,700 homes and businesses along the western side of the city and along Md. 31 will be connected with fiber over the course of the next 12 months. "The city decided that we are not in the business of being an internet service provider, that's not what we do well; we do infrastructure really, really well," he said. "That's where the Ting partnership has been so crucial, they are the ones that are operating the network and ultimately selling services to our business owners and our residents."

The project of wiring up the whole city will take three to four years if all goes well, according to City Councilman Robert Wack, who spearheaded the infrastructure plan. As far as each resident or property owner is concerned, he said, the project comes in two parts — running the fiber to each address, for which the owner must grant access, and connecting the fiber into the house to begin service, which is done by Ting once a service is purchased. "An important thing to keep in mind for the city's residents is that the installation of the fiber is free — it's only if they choose to take the service from Ting that they would actually have to pay something," Wack said. "The more people we get to sign up for the fiber installation, the cheaper we can get it done because we can get some volume discounts from the construction company."[122][123]

[edit] June 26, 2016: Westminster Demonstrates Speed of Ting's Fiber Network

The Carroll County Times reported on June 26, 2016 that among telecommunications circles, "the Westminster model" is being used to describe the city's innovative public-private partnership for a citywide fiber network. Jeff Cornejo, product manager for Tucows Inc., which owns Ting, was at a demonstration on June 24, 2016 as officials and businesses gathered to see the network's speed demonstrated at a launch party at Intellitech Inc. Cornejo demonstrated common tasks using the gigabit service, including downloading a 5-gigabyte operating system update — which took less than 2 minutes — and a 2-gigabyte data backup — which took less than one minute. A high-definition movie is usually about 4 gigabytes and can take up to an hour to download using a standard download speed, according to Cornejo.

"This is an exciting day for the City of Westminster," said Mayor Kevin Utz adding that he hopes the eventual citywide network will entice businesses and residents alike to move to Westminster. "We would like some of those government jobs to come to Westminster."[124]

[edit] June 14, 2016: Gigabit Fiber Has Helped Revive Chattanooga

The Tennessean reported on June 14, 2016 that Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke points to the city’s fiber network as a significant source of its new vibrancy. “It changed our conceptions of who we are and what is possible,” Berke said. “Before we had never thought of ourselves as a technology city." In the past three years, the city’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent from 7.8 percent and the wage rate has also been climbing. Volkswagen’s presence has boosted the manufacturing sector and 10-gigabit speed internet has fueled wage growth. “We know that the wage rise is linked to internet jobs and particularly the technology sector,” Berke said. A pioneer in municipal broadband, Chattanooga developed its fiber network in 2010 with $330 million, paid for with $105 million in federal funds and the rest from bonds. The high-speed access led to direct and indirect economic gains and has been profitable. “Our fiber goes to each and every home,” Berke said. “We can’t have digital gated communities. If we do that we and only allow fiber to go to some parts of the city, some parts of the state, we will see technology widen the gulf between people as opposed to bridging it."[125]

[edit] June 1, 2016: Fiber Network Construction in Holly Springs to Begin in August

Fiber Network Construction in Holly Springs to Begin in August. Ting will begin installing fiber in Holly Springs in August. The initial roll-out plans include Holly Glen, Holly Pointe, Autumn Park and Morgan Park. Phase 2 of the fiber network roll-out will begin in October in Windcrest and Oak Hall. Phase 3 will being in November with 12 Oaks, Arbor Commons, and Arbor Creek. (Click on graphic to expand.)

The Ting Blog reported on June 1, 2016 that Holly Glen will be the first Holly Springs neighborhood where Ting will begin installing fiber in August. The initial roll-out plans include Holly Glen, Holly Pointe, Autumn Park and Morgan Park. Phase 2 of the fiber network roll-out will begin in October in Windcrest and Oak Hall. Phase 3 will being in November with 12 Oaks, Arbor Commons, and Arbor Creek.[126]

“Internet speed and infrastructure is an issue that is on the national agenda,” says Elliot Noss. “While it’s obviously very important to get major metros connected with fast fiber Internet, Ting Internet is proving that the fastest Internet access available isn’t just for city centers. Smaller cities and towns need faster, more reliable Internet too. Maybe even more so.”

“We go where we’re needed and wanted most,” says Adam Eisner, VP of Networks, Ting Internet. “We use pre-orders to determine where the strongest desire lies. Holly Glen reached that tipping point quickly and we’re eager to get started. By the end of 2016, we plan to have the first homes in Holly Glen connected with Ting crazy fast fiber Internet.”

“Ting has demonstrated its commitment to Holly Springs, and that’s exactly what we look for when working with the private sector,” says Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears. “The citizens of Holly Springs deserve the best Internet access to allow them to telecommute, to inspire kids with the possibilities technology brings and to keep Holly Springs growing at the impressive pace we’ve been driving for the past several decades.”

Ting Internet start up costs in Holly Springs vary by location but are not more than $200 for residential or $400 for an individual business. The Ting Internet Box, which doubles as a high-speed wireless router, is required equipment and costs $199 to purchase outright and can be rented for $9 per month. Symmetrical gigabit Internet costs $89 a month for a home, $139 for a business.[127]

[edit] May 27, 2016: First Ting Makerspace Goes Live in Westminster

The Ting Blog reported on May 27, 2016 that the first Ting makerspace is live in Westminster, MD. The makerspace includes tech tools like a 3D printer, CNC router, Arduino boards — "everything one might need to experiment with a computer or electronics project, including crazy fast fiber Internet." Ting plans to bring a makerspace to every Ting Internet town that doesn’t already have one.[128]

[edit] May 20, 2016: Maryland Senator Ben Cardin Visits Ting Internet in Westminister

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin Visits Ting Internet in Westminister.

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin visited Westminister, MD on May 20, 2016 and praised Ting Fiber in a tweet: "A great town deserves great internet. At @tingFTW in #Westminster learning the impact of being #gigabit city"[129]

[edit] May 25, 2016: Elliot Noss Talks About How a Town Can Make Itself More Attractive to Ting Fiber

Elliot Noss has a new video up the Ting Blog on May 25, 2016 that talks about how cities or towns can become attractive to Ting or Google Fiber or any other fiber partner. First go read the documentation that is out there says Noss. "Google provides great documentation on what it takes to become a Google town. We provide documentation. The things that cities or towns should do are not complicated. For starters, towns need to know their municipal assets and access policies. Towns should also be coming to the discussion with the sense that crazy fast fiber Internet is a thing they need in order to keep pace; Ting doesn’t want to spend a lot of time convincing people that symmetrical gigabit Internet is important infrastructure."

Noss says that the thing that isn't talked about is that cities and towns need to bring themselves to the exercise as ready for it. "We don't want to spend any time convincing a city or town that they need gigabit fiber. Really there are already so many hundreds and hundreds of towns that have recognized and decided that that was important infrastructure for them to remain competitive that we are sorting through those that have already gotten over the hurdle of why should I do this?"[130]

[edit] May 18, 2016: Elliot Noss Talks About Barriers to Competitors in Ting Towns

Elliot Noss has a new video up on the Ting Blog on May 18, 2016 where he talks about barriers to competition in Ting Fiber and why he's not worried about another company coming in and competing in a Ting Town. Noss says that in terms of competition in the fiber arena there are three things to consider.

[edit] May 17, 2016: Ting Internet Rolls Out Plans for Winchester Fiber

Rollout of Winchester, MD Fiber Network.

The Ting Blog reported on May 17, 2016 that the physical construction of the fiber network in Westminster is already underway and Ting Internet is providing a road map for the roll-out of fiber throughout the city. Phase 1, to be completed in 2016 will include Bolton Hill, Cliveden Reach, Village of Meadow Creek, and Whispering Meadows. The City of Westminster has been accepting bids for construction of Phase 1 and the most recent information is that they plan to break ground for the network backbone around the middle of June. Fiber drops (for which you need to sign an “access agreement…” that’s important) will follow shortly thereafter. All signs currently point to installing fiber in the first the homes in Phase 1 in Q4 of this year. "If you think you may want fiber Internet. Even if you’re on the fence. It behooves you to sign the City of Westminster’s fiber access agreement. Not to put too fine a point on it but if the team installing fiber drops passes you by and you decide later that you might want fiber, you’re going be waiting for quite some time. A signed access agreement lets the City install a fiber drop on your property. It costs nothing and it in no way obligates you to get service from Ting."

Phase 2 of the network build will begin as Phase 1 nears completion but timeframes are much harder to pin down. Phase 2 will include the following areas: The Greens, Stoneridge Overlook, Eagle View Estates, Furnace Hills, Fernby Farm, Avondale Run, and Wakefield Valley.[132]

[edit] May 9, 2016: Tucows Reports Strong Quarter for Q1 2016, Beats Earnings Estimate

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through May 9, 2016. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 684% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 63% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.
Incremental Contribution from Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows EBITDA Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows Net Income Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

See also:

[edit] Quarterly Revenue Increased 13% YOY

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that revenue increased 13% from Q1 of last year to a record $45.6 million.[133]

[edit] Net Income for the Year Increased 57% YOY

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that net income for the first quarter of 2016 increased 57% to a record $4.4 million or $0.42 per share from $2.8 million or $0.25 per share from Q1 of 2015. [134]

[edit] Adjusted EBITDA for the Year Increased 10% YOY

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that adjusted EBITDA for the year came in at $7.486 representing year-over-year growth of 10% YOY.[135]

[edit] Tucows Reiterates Guidance of $30 million Adjusted EBITDA for 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that with a solid start to 2016, we are comfortable reiterating our previous guidance for the year of $30 million in adjusted EBITDA. "Just again, I don't want to be back every quarter readjusting that number or working with precision. And I think, I'd probably think a little bit more about that, if we were trading at a higher multiple as well. So I am not feeling too bad about the $30 million number at this price."[136]

[edit] Tucows Had an Increase of $2.3 Million in Cash Flow from Operating Activities

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that cash and cash equivalents at the end of the first quarter of 2016 was $10 million compared to $7.7 million at the end of 2015 and $13.7 million at the end of Q1 a year ago. "The increase relative to the end of 2015 is primarily the result of our generating $5.6 million in cash flow from operations, and the advancement of $6 million under our credit facility that was used to fund the acquisition of the international wholesale domain reseller channel of Melbourne IT that Elliot discussed earlier."[137]

[edit] Tucows Invested $0.9 million, Primarily in Ting Fiber

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Tucows invested $0.9 million in property and equipment, mainly in continuing to build out the footprint for Ting Internet.[138]

[edit] Tucows Repurchased 231,000 Shares in Q4 for $5.4 million

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Tucows used $2.2 million to repurchase just over 98,000 shares under our open market share buyback program. Noss added that "we bought back a little stock during the quarter. This is not reflective of any change in our philosophy around returning capital to shareholders. We've always said that repurchases would vary from quarter-to-quarter. The more the stock falls in a given quarter, the more we are likely to buy, and more the stock rises in a given quarter, the less we are likely to buy. This is simply a matter of moment and process. The Board setting a price subsequent to the meeting that takes place just before the calls. The stock right now is up over 25% from the time of the last earnings call. And all things being equal that is likely to be a quarter in which we buy less than another."

"It's always being opportunistic. And to put a final point on it, we'll decide what we're going to do for quarter typically in our Board meeting, which will take place typically the day of the call, the day before the call. If you go back to the last call, stock was in the 18's at that point, so we're going start price on that basis. I think you as a smart trader will appreciate as much as anyone. You don't want us kind of being super aggressive off that price. And the stock traded up pretty quickly, and so that's really going to be an impact there, but tactically we go through that exercise on a regular basis."[139]

[edit] Tucows Incurred a Small Gain on Canadian Currency Exchange

Michael Cooperman told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that during the first quarter of this year, Tucows incurred a gain on foreign exchange, primary related to revaluation of our foreign denominated assets and liabilities of $79,000 compared to a loss of $239,000 during Q1 of 2015.[140]

[edit] May 9, 2016: Ting Mobile Continues to Grow Adding 12,000 New Users in Q1

Number of Ting Mobile Customers Note: Ting started in February 2012. Prior to the earnings report for 2013:Q4 Tucows did not break out the number of customers or devices so the number of customers in Q1 through Q3 for 2013 is estimated. (Click on chart to expand.)
Gross Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Chart 6: Churned Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Net Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

[edit] Ting Mobile Added 12,000 Accounts and 18,000 Devices in Q1 2016

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that "Ting Mobile had an outstanding quarter, adding over 12,000 accounts and 18,000 devices. That brings our total to over 140,000 accounts and 220,000 devices. This was a significant spike-in as relative to recent quarters. And I must note was driven by a one-time influx of customers, migrating from another MVNO that closed its doors."[141]

[edit] Ting added 7,000 New Customers in a One-Time Influx Migrating from Another MVNO

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that much of the increase in customers was driven by a one-time influx of customers, migrating from another MVNO that closed its doors. "In late January, PlatinumTel Wireless, also known as PTel, alerted its customers that it will be shutting down the service and included Ting among a few recommended mobile providers. Ting welcomed roughly 7,000 of these customers and early behavior and usage indicate that they are satisfied and well-suited to be great additions to our base."[142]

[edit] Ting Mobile Offered a Service Credit to Ptel Customers to Come Over to Ting Mobile

In answer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that "with those 7,000 PTel customers, we offered a service credit to bring them over and turning out to be great piece of [ph] calc, but all of that gets taken in, in the quarter. So there's a fair bit there."[143]

[edit] It is Unlikely There Will be More Opportunities Like Ptel in the Next Year

In answer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that it is unlikely that there will be any other non-organic opportunities out there like Ptel that might come to closure in the next six to 12 months. "One of the biggest challenges, David, is price points. And so you have to be able to bring over another company's customer base at something similar around price points. So for instance, a deal or two that we look at, you might see, and only from a distance because by the way there's not a lot of action in the vertical in the space, you might see a chunk of unlimited customers with really, really high daily usage. You've almost got to assume them as a 100% churn when you're bringing over. And if you're vendor, you want to get paid for that, right. So you're going to want to find somebody who has got plans that you can map on to a little better. So it's tricky. I think its, what? It's good business, but it's hard to find."

[edit] Ting Mobile Expects About 5,000 Net Adds in Q2

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Q2 looks kind of like Q1 with about 5,000 net adds exclusive of the one time addition of users from the MVNO that closed its doors. "I think you want to be modeling in that 5%, 6%, 7% and we'll take you up and keep you tracking as we're going along there."[144]

[edit] Ting Mobile's Churn Rate Fell to 2.39%

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Ting churn fell to 2.39% in Q1, down from 2.73% in Q4. "This appears to be the result of three factors. The first is seasonality. With a history of only four-plus years and hyper growth that has obscured other trends, we are just starting to get meaningful data on seasonable ups and downs. It appears the first half of the year tends to bring lower churn and the second half of the year higher churn, with Q4 typically being the worst."

"The second factor, surprisingly, is the growth of GSM customers as a portion of our base. In their first few months, GSM customers appeared to us to be more transient. In fact, as that base has matured, they are proving to be even slightly more loyal than our CDMA base and are having a positive impact on our retention, when looking at the cohort data."

"The third factor is our own retention work. As we mentioned on the last call, we've been identifying predictors of churn in our customer data and have launched same efforts against our at-risk customers. We have begun to see some early success there and will continue to get more aggressive on that front."[145]

[edit] There is a Lot of Effort Being Expended to Generate More Gross Add

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that there is a lot of work going on in Ting Mobile; almost all of it is with respect to generating more gross add. "Certainly, a fair amount of work going into continuing to drive that churn number down, but the real focus is on generating more gross adds; and I think that with all of the three headings or three buckets that I have talked about, they all take real work to put the pieces in place. So that work is certainly meaningful. That work is kind of the core focus of all of the people in that group.

And I think the simplest way to think about it, if you want to take a good positive look at that, I talked about the simple exercise of routing calls between support calls and presales calls, that's something that just about every company, every mobile phone company in the world does, and they tends to do it with an aggravating IVR system.

We're really looking at taking the 15% to 20% of our interactions today that are presales and trying to more efficiently route, maybe it does end up being IVR much simplified, but even getting that 15% to 20% of interactions in the hands of folks that are more trained up and skilled up to convert those leads into sales will have an impact, so it's really simple blocking and tackling like that."[146]

[edit] Ting Mobile's Data Prices Are Too High and Gross Margins Are At the Top of Their Range

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that "I think I had always said two things or have consistently said them for the last little while, one, that our data prices are too high, and as competition in the industry has stepped up that's really been exposed more and more, and then that that's because our costs are too high, and that our gross margins are towards the top end of our range. So there is nothing that I have to announce, so that's evident, but certainly those two things are both true." [147]

[edit] Ting Mobile is Continuing Efforts in Retail Distribution, Affiliate Programs, and Sale Capabilities

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that despite the one-time migrations from PTel and the decline in churn in Q1, the underlying trend on Ting net add is not at all where we wanted to be and that Ting Mobile is continuing its efforts in three areas: retail distribution, affiliate programs and sales capabilities.

None of these will provide instant lifts, but each has the potential to provide long-term impact.

In retail distribution, we are learning from our existing relationships and pursuing more of them. We are particularly interested in working closely with retailers large and possibly very small that offer a high-touch experience. As Ting tends to win, the more shoppers are encouraged to contrast and compare.

On affiliate programs, we're exploring large channel partners and beginning the same sort of experimentation we do with any other marketing vehicles. This is essentially just direct response marketing with an inside track. So for example, a discrete offer to military personnel through a private website that validates their identity or an offer to large company employees that appear on the back of their biweekly paychecks. For each, we can test target, placement, offer and message to find winners and scale.

On direct sales, we are just beginning to build an internal team, establish our infrastructure and processes and identifying new marketing channels to drive calls. In fact, the greatest initial hit would very likely come from just redirecting prospects that already come to our site everyday. All visitors to the Ting site today get the same phone number, whether they are customers or prospects, and all reps are expected to juggle those very different types of calls. By pushing prospects towards a dedicated sales team, we are leveraging people who are handpicked and trained to convert those leads. Just as we have said about improving conversion on the website, a small improvement on thousands of prospect calls a month can make a big difference in our numbers. With the success of our customer referral program and some of our most effective podcasters and bloggers, it is clear that Ting is most appealing when is explained by someone familiar, passionate and knowledgeable.

At its simplest, the acquisition areas we are pursuing are intended to connect more prospects to retailers, organizations and sales people that will do just that. I note also, that the biggest thing we can do for mobile adds is to deal with our data cost and thereby deal with data pricing. This is something we continue to work on with both our carrier partners.[148]

[edit] Affinity Marketing of Ting Mobile Is a Step Function With Long Lead Time

In answer to a question from Jamie DeYoung, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Affinity marketing is quite kind of step function. "You're going after kind of a longer lead time big fish there. And I think when I say about affinity is we continue to have good discussions, there are a couple of interesting trials going on this quarter. Those tend to be -- they're not things that are visible. It would be great, if we have one or two of them to begin to talk about specifically next quarter. But I'd have to take a step back and think about short of something that's very visible, like consumer cellular with AARP. If we really want to be on the call talking about detail around some of that, I know, that I'd love if some of my competitors is were. So I'd want to give that some thought."[149]

[edit] Ting Mobile Is Going to be Looking at Some of the Best Practices of its MVNO Competitors

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that now we need to start learning from the things that everybody else is doing. "So I think the simplest way to think about it, the way that I've been expressing it is, we did a great job for four years doing things differently than everybody else has been doing. We've kind of taken that to where we've gotten and now we need to start learning from the things that everybody else is doing. The good news in that for me is we have loads of examples to learn from. It's a lot easier to try and layer in things that are working consistently for most are all of your competitors around you than it is to try and come up with new and normal strategies. So I think if we can just do an okay to pretty good job of doing what everybody else is doing that in the coming quarters that starts to have a real impact."[150]

[edit] May 9, 2016: Ting Internet Took Some Big Steps This Quarter

[edit] Ting Internet Has Launched a Campaign to Measure Demand in Charlottesville and Holly Springs

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Ting Internet took some big steps forward in Q1. "With our system in place to take $9 pre-orders, we began mapping demand at the neighborhood and street levels in our existing Ting towns to help plan our network builds. We can also now measure demand in a perspective town like Holly Springs to determine whether the potential justifies the investment. This transition from a world where only serviceable addresses could order to one where everyone in these towns could now pre-order, justified casting a much wider net with our marketing. Working with an outside creative team and local production crews, talent and musicians, we developed a campaign for each town around the idea, a great town deserves great internet, with movie theater spots, radio, billboards, print, direct mail and in Charlottesville, where there are local network television affiliates television ads. And I note, those ads are available on YouTube, if you're interested in looking for them. Since launching the campaign in late March, we have seen a sustained lift of 150% in website traffic from these towns. We are also pleased with the levels of pre-order, particularly in the Holly Springs, where we are now completing the deal and planning the build."[151]

[edit] Ting Internet Has Announced a Fourth Market for Consideration in Sandpoint

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that in March, Ting Internet announced their fourth market for consideration, the Greater Sandpoint, Idaho area, where we would serve the town of Sandpoint and eventually the towns of Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. "The area has a combined population of around 10,000 residents. Smaller than our first three markets. Indeed, Sandpoint is likely smaller than any town that any commercial provider in the new wave of gigabit internet providers has looked at in the U.S. A number of you have asked me, if it make sense to build a fiber network in a market this size. We look at each market individually and there were a few factors here. First, Sandpoint has reasonable density, over 1,000 people per square mile. Second, Sandpoint has solid connectivity to the greater internet. But Sandpoint has one market condition that none of our other markets have. The best internet connection you can reliably buy in Sandpoint is 12-megabits per second. That is extremely slow. We are told that it is often also unreliable and expensive. Market like Sandpoint is an important experiment, to see whether the increased take-up rate we expect from less competition makes up for some slight operating inefficiencies."[152]

[edit] Ting Internet Is Seeing Cost Come in Within its Parameters

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Ting Internet continues to see build cost coming in within its parameters. "Thus we continue to be happy with $2,500 per connected home and a $1,000 dollars in annual gross margin as well as take-up rates of 20% in the first year and 50% over five years."[153]

[edit] Ting Internet Will Probably Be Entering Two or Three Additional Markets In 2016

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Ting Internet will probably be entering two or three additional markets this year. "Four is not impossible; one is not impossible; but best guess two or three."

Noss added that Ting Internet is actively working on 12 to 15 additional markets that are in the pipeline. "It's really a function of how you define active. I'd bet you if I just look at what's in the pipeline, well, like 12, 15 anyway. But there's plenty. And those are ones that we've decided to actually enter into the internal tracking system. There's probably another a dozen, 20 on top of that, where there has been a contact, the discussion, an engagement of sort of. It's very much sellers market in that regard."[154]


Comment on January 7, 2017: Tucows announced on September 21, 2016 that Ting will be bringing fiber to Centennial, CO, population 107,201 (2014 Census), the largest Ting town by population to date.[155]

[edit] The Backbone of the Buildout in Charlottesville Will Be Completed by the End of 2016

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that by the end of this year, the overwhelmingly most addresses in Charlottesville will be able to order. "There will be the odd little pocket where that's not the case, and of course, with MDUs that's a building-by-building another thing. And Charlottesville does have a fair number of MDUs over a third of the residences. But we're actually just starting in this last quarter, we've really just started to get to the final stages and start to light up our very first MDUs."[156]

[edit] May 9, 2016: Domains Had a Steady Quarter

[edit] Tucows Continues to See Steady Performance in the Domains Business

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that Tucows continues to see steady performance in our domains business. "Our retail channel Hover turned in another strong quarter, with revenue up 19% year-over-year and net cash contribution up 32%. The Hover customer base grew another 15% from the end of Q1 last year. The renewal rate at 82% is very strong relative to the industry and remarkable for a pure-play domain service. In our wholesale channel, average margin remains strong in Q1, up 6% from Q1 of last year, as we continue to benefit from our shift in sales mix to higher margin registrations. We are also quite pleased with how our reseller base has evolved and our volumes have endured, despite what could have been unfavorable trends in the web hosting industry."[157]

[edit] There Are Two Unfavorable Trends in the Web Hosting Industry

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that there are two unfavorable trends in the web hosting industry. "First, traditional web hosts, which have been the core of our reseller base, since the launch of OpenSRS have lost market share to new website building services. Second, many of those traditional web hosts among our resellers have been acquired by large registrars. At the same time, however, we have refreshed our reseller base and replace that volume by landing some of the most successful brands in that class of site building services, including company's like Squarespace and Shopify. These services and others like them have made it dead simple to build a website and conduct online. They continue to gain share and to welcome new users into the category, and we're thrilled to be along for the ride. Our renewal rate was a bit lower again this quarter, as few large resellers that had left us continue to transfer domains away upon renewal. This is not representative of our larger base and our overall renewal rate remains strong relative to the industry. We added 16 new gTLDs in Q1. This is fewer than we had added in recent quarters, and we do expect the quantity of new gTLD launches to slow as the program matures. That said, we expect the quality of the new adds to pick up, as some of the most anticipated TLDs under contention are resolved. The number of resellers who have registered at least one new gTLD expanded to more than 2,500. That's up about 7% from the end of Q4 and 30% from Q1 last year."[158]

[edit] The Acquisition of Melbourne IT Was an Excellent Opportunity

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that the acquisition of Melbourne IT was an excellent opportunity to acquire a loyal profitable base of resellers that share the same core needs as our existing wholesale customers. "The quarter saw us take advantage of our leadership in our wholesale domains business through acquisition of the international reseller channel of Melbourne IT. To be clear, by international I mean everything outside of their domestic markets of Australia and New Zealand," said Noss. "This was an excellent opportunity to acquire a loyal profitable base of resellers that share the same core needs as our existing wholesale customers. In total, the deal added 1.6 million domain names under management that generate $13 million in annual revenue and $2 million in gross margin, for which we paid $6 million. We expect to generate a little bit of operating synergy from the acquisition. But given that we didn't acquire any operations, there isn't much more on the expense side than a few hundred thousand dollars. There are some additional service opportunities that we will explore in that we offer a much broader range of ccTLDs and new gTLDs."[159]

[edit] May 3, 2016: Tucows Bans Ads, Phony Download Buttons from Software Download Site

Tucows reported on May 3, 2016 that they have banned deceptive ads, hidden download buttons, pop-ups, flypaper, toolbars and other such Internet nastiness from the the nearly 40,000 software titles it hosts for users on it's download sites. “On the Tucows downloads site today, you’ll find no flashing ads. No toolbars. No pop-ups,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows. “You might see a few plugs for other Tucows services, but nothing too egregious… and certainly not anything that’s pretending to be a download button.” With Tucows’ success in wholesale and retail domain names and more recently with mobile phone service (Ting) and fiber Internet (Ting Internet), tucows.com/downloads has become less relevant when looking at the balance sheet. “We don’t lightly walk away from opportunities or revenue,” said Noss. “In the end, though, we’d rather have the Tucows name associated with good; with a belief in the power of the Internet to affect positive change. An ad-heavy site that packages browser toolbars along with every download isn’t something we want people to think of when they hear ‘Tucows,’."[160]

[edit] April 14, 2016: Google Working on Technology to Beam Wireless High Speed Internet Directly to the Home

Re/Code reported on Apri 14, 2016 that Google is working on a plan to beam wireless broadband directly into homes. If Google can figure out how to make the technology work, it would solve the expensive “last mile” problem that broadband companies usually tackle by stringing a web of wires directly into homes and giving Google’s parent, Alphabet, which runs Fiber, a plausible path to build out a nationwide network that could go head to head with broadband incumbents like AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast. Access CEO Craig Barratt, who oversees Fiber, said the company is working on connecting wireless towers to existing fiber lines, and that it is “experimenting with a number of different wireless technologies” to make that happen.

Barratt said that wireless high speed internet would not displace fiber but would complement fiber in low density environments where it is too expensive to run fiber. "One of the things that is intriguing about wireless is that it allows you reach houses and users that are in lower density settings — where fiber becomes too expensive. So providing fixed wireless services using some of the technologies we think are ways of accelerating our deployments. We think, over time, there will be a sort of heterogeneous mix of technologies that we can use, depending upon the type of problem we’re trying to solve."

Barratt added that Google is serious about fiber as a business. "Overall, it’s a space that’s really ripe for innovation, both in terms of the core technology and also different approaches to the business model. And I think that will have long-term impact on the fundamentals of the business and help us shape how we invest going forward," says Barrat. "There’s huge interest among the cities because they see such a profound benefit of having cutting-edge Internet in their city. The cities are very important partners to us — they can help private sector investment create benefit for the city and the residents.[161]

[edit] April 9, 2016: Google Fiber Drops Free Basic Service in Kansas City

Consumers in Kansas City can get $70 gigabit internet access from Google, but there has usually been a far more frugal option: you could get free 5Mbps service if you were willing to pay a construction fee. John Fingus wrote in Engadget on April 9, 2016 that Google has quietly dropped that free tier in Kansas City, its first Fiber area, and has replaced it with a 100Mbps option that costs $50 per month. Anyone using the free tier has until May 19th to say they want to keep it. According to Endgadget, this could reflect a broader change in Google's fiber strategy. "Simply put, Google has fiercer competition from incumbent carriers -- it may have to offer a fast-but-affordable selection to get those customers for whom the gigabit option is either too costly or sheer overkill," says Fingus. "Whatever the motivations, Google is clearly beyond the days when Fiber was merely an experiment in very high-speed internet access -- it has to be a money-maker."[162]

[edit] April 5, 2016: Elliot Noss: Ting Fiber is Looking for a Few Good Mayors

Peter Nowak published an interview with Tucows CEO Elliot Noss at Alphabeatic on April 5, 2016 where Noss talks about bringing super-fast fiber broadband to underserved U.S. cities focusing on smaller towns like Charlottesville, Virginia (population: 44,000), Westminster, Maryland (population: 18,000), Holly Springs, North Carolina (population: 29,000), and Sandpoint, Idaho (population: less than 10,000). Noss says Ting decided to get involved in a hundred-billion-dollar market because "everybody hates the competitors." "The internet is today being serviced by old retrofitted telephone or television infrastructure and nobody will build proper infrastructure."

Noss says that as far as finding markets to go into, it’s a seller’s market for Ting Fiber because there are not a lot of companies for cities and towns to partner with. "We’re partnering only with cities and towns that have already decided they want a gig [network], their business model and are kind of at the point of ready-to-go," says Noss. "We’re only dealing with cities and towns that have made the decision – the enlightened decision – that they want gigabit and they understand what business model they’re going to go with."

Noss says that Ting isn't getting involved in providing fiber in Canada because "there aren’t the people screaming who had to engage in self help from the bottom up like there are in the U.S. In the U.S. you have much more noise and political action on a municipal level on this issue. We have loads of mayors talk about their citizenry complaining about their internet access all the time." According to Noss the U.S. has had a burgeoning municipal fibre movement for six to eight years but in Canada, there is nothing and that no mayor in Canada has ever contacted Tucows about fiber broadband. "I try to say whenever I can that no mayor [in Canada] has contacted me and I hope that gets in print enough that a mayor contacts me."[163]

[edit] March 29, 2016: Elliot Noss: Does Building Fiber Internet in a Small Town Make Economic Sense?

Tucows CEO Eliot Noss has a new "Ask an Exec" video on the Tucows Web site where he discusses whether building fiber internet in a small town like Sandpoint makes economic sense. Sandpoint is a smaller market that anything Tucows has looked at before and anything that any commercial provider has looked at. But according to Noss, Sandpoint has some reasonable density with over 1,000 per square mile density. "The experiment is a simple one," says Noss. "Sandpoint has one other characteristic that no other market that Google Fiber or any of the other fiber providers have ever gone into. The best internet connection you can buy in Sandpoint today is about 11 MB/sec. That is extremely slow. We have been told by people in Sandpoint that their internet connectivity is slow, unreliable and expensive. The task is a simple one. You are going into a market where obviously the overhead will be a little higher than in another market but building costs should be similar at the per home level. Does that extra take-up rate that you get by having that dearth of competition make up for that bit more overhead in operating?"

Noss says that there are efficiencies in operating in the four current Ting Internet towns and that the number one efficiency is that Ting Fiber is learning more lessons. "We need to be a learning machine. We are getting better at how to do a roll out, how to do a build. Holly Springs is the first Ting town where we are going at it in the way we will for the next four or five years. We are doing a bunch of marketing before we are live in the market. We are doing pre-orders. This is the right way to roll out in a town. The efficiencies are just around the general learning operationally."

Noss says that Ting Fiber will continue to do customer service out of Ting's two customer service centers. All of the back office operation is all very centralized. In a local operation Ting will have a town manager, Ting will have a local retail presence and Ting will have some local presence around installation and maintenance. After that what we do will be idosyncratic to every town.

Noss says that it is a trueism that the first person to build fiber in a community is probably the last person to build fiber and that we are really in the early days of bringing fiber to North America. There is basically "Google Fiber and Ting Fiber - where is everybody else? We think there will be tens and maybe hundreds of companies like us bringing fiber across North America. There are 20,000 towns. This is not a land rush. It is going to take place over 15 or 20 years and there is lots of room for hundreds of competitors."[164]

[edit] March 29, 2016: Elliot Noss: Ting Fiber Expects to Have a TV Product by the End of 2016

Tucows CEO Eliot Noss has a new "Ask an Exec" video on the Tucows Web site in which he says that Ting Fiber expects to have a tv product on the market by the end of the year. "The reason we want that is to increase the take rate of the internet product. We don't view it as product in and of itself. Customers say I am not happy with my current provider. I don't really want to deal with them at all."[165]

[edit] March 15, 2016: Tucows to Acquire Melbourne IT’s International Wholesale Domain Reseller Channel

Globalnewswire reported that Tucows announced on March 15, 2016 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the international wholesale domain reseller channel of Melbourne IT Limited (ASX:MLB). The acquisition will add hundreds of resellers and approximately 1.6 million domains under management to Tucows’ OpenSRS wholesale domain business. Tucows will not acquire any of Melbourne IT’s operations and the transaction will be immediately accretive to earnings. “This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a loyal, profitable base of resellers that have the same core needs as our existing wholesale customers. Importantly, the scalability of our OpenSRS platform allows us to meaningfully expand our base of domains under management while adding minimally to our operating costs,” said David Woroch, Tucows’ EVP Domains. “Wholesale domain services for web hosting companies and ISPs has been a core component of the Tucows business for more than 16 years. Today, we are one of the largest wholesale domain name registrars in the world and the step function growth from this transaction will allow us to even better leverage our platform as we continue to invest in the business.”[166]

[edit] March 11, 2016: Elliot Noss Says the Long March to Fiber Will Take Many Roads

Tucows CEO Elliot Noss wrote on the Ting Blog on March 11, 2016 that the United States is a long way from a truly competitive market for broadband but how cities get "fibered up" depends a lot on local variables. "I speak with mayors and city leaders all over the country. Most prefer a private partner to provide the capital and engage in the construction project required to build a fiber network. It is simply easier politically, economically and bureaucratically" says Noss. "I tell every mayor I speak with that if I were them, I would build it myself and have the city own this most important piece of infrastructure. This would allow them to ensure that their citizens receive high levels of Internet service, both speed and reliability, and customer service." But building a municipal fiber network sufficient to provide Fiber-to-the-home (“FTTH”) is rare, expensive and takes a long time to build. "It is also worth it and should be done everywhere! But it won’t be and I think it is important that we respect and understand the different choices that will be made. For most cities today, having a private partner will be their only choice and getting that symmetrical gigabit fiber network is more important than how they get it."

According to Noss all the talk of competition and open access is nice, but is unlikely to happen in the US for a long (long) time. "There are currently tens of markets with true symmetrical gigabit fiber connections broadly available. There are nearly twenty thousand who will have them available over the next twenty years. Ting Internet, and others who will follow us, will rightly look at unserved markets before going into a market like Huntsville and competing. What IS truly important is the spectre of competition, which a network owned by the city provides. This will serve to keep suppliers on their toes and, in and of itself, should be enough to create much higher service levels than the abyssmally low ones we find today. When we at Ting Internet are entering a new market, of course we look at the existing cableco and telco situation in a city or town, but we do not consider it truly competitive any more than a horse drawn carriage is competitive with a car."

Noss concludes that solutions to creating fiber infrastructure are as unique as the cities and towns they will inhabit. And most importantly, there is unlikely to really be any competition inside of markets until much later in this long march to fiber. "For now, let’s those of us who view the fiberization of North America as a mission [...] focus on what we can do to get as many cities and towns fibered up as we can. Then let’s turn our mind towards competition."[167]

[edit] March 9, 2016: Tucows Files 10-k for FY2015

Analysis to come

[edit] March 7, 2016: Joichi Ito Resigns from Tucows Board of Directors

Tucows filed a Form 8-K with the SEC on March 7, 2016 for a Change in Directors or Principal Officers stating that on March 1, 2016, Tucows Inc. (the "Company") received a written letter of resignation from Joichi Ito stating that Mr. Ito resigned, effective immediately, from his position on the Board of Directors (the "Board") of the Company. Mr. Ito's resignation from the Board is not a result of any dispute or disagreement with the Company.[168]

Ito is a Japanese-American activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Director of the MIT Media Lab who has received recognition for his role as an entrepreneur focused on Internet and technology companies and has founded, among other companies, PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. He maintains a blog, a wiki and an IRC channel. Ito is the chairman of the board of PureTech Health. Ito is a board member of Sony Corporation, The New York Times Company, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and General Partner of Neoteny Labs.[169]

Ito joined Tucows' Board of Directors on December 15, 2008.[170]

[edit] March 2, 2016: Ting to Bring Fiber to Greater Sandpoint, Idaho

Sandpoint, Idaho. Ting Fiber has announced plans to bring crazy fast fiber Internet to the Greater Sandpoint, ID area including the towns of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Comsumers in those towns can pre-order Ting Internet at ting.com/sandpoint as part of the initial “demand assessment” phase. Assuming there is sufficient demand for fiber, network construction would begin later in 2016. Photo: Wikipedia

Nasdaq reported on March 2, 2016 that Ting Fiber has announced plans to bring crazy fast fiber Internet to the Greater Sandpoint, ID area including the towns of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Comsumers in those towns can pre-order Ting Internet at ting.com/sandpoint as part of the initial “demand assessment” phase. Assuming there is sufficient demand for fiber, network construction would begin later in 2016.

“Internet speed and infrastructure is an issue that is on the national agenda,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Ting and its parent company Tucows. “While it’s obviously very important to get major metros connected with fast fiber Internet, Ting Internet is proving that the fastest Internet access available isn’t just for city centers. Smaller cities and towns need faster, more reliable Internet too. Maybe even more so.” “We’re always happy to team up with towns and cities that get it,” said Adam Eisner, Director of Networks for Ting. “Gigabit fiber is the next generation of Internet access and it will power the next generation of ideas.”

“If there’s one industry that needs Ting perhaps even more than mobile, it’s cable and Internet access,” said Noss. “For too long, people and businesses have had no choice, or at best the illusion of choice, as to who provides them with access. They have been held hostage by contracts and forced under bandwidth caps. We’re changing that.”[171]

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that entering three to five new markets in 2016 is still possible but there are two caveats. "One, sometimes municipal processes move a little slower than one would like and I think that as we get further incidence we see more of that, but two, and probably more importantly, it’s going to be about the number of homes we pass as much as it's going to be about the number of markets. So we’ve got a couple slightly larger markets that were looking at and we might do little bit less in terms of number of markets but the same amount of kind of fiber in the ground. So I do want to put that caveat out there as well."[172]

Sandpoint (Ktunaxa: kamanquku?[4]) is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Bonner County, Idaho.[5] Its population was 7,365 at the 2010 census. Sandpoint lies on the shores of Idaho's largest lake, 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille, and is surrounded by three major mountain ranges, the Selkirk, Cabinet and Bitterroot ranges. It is home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho's largest ski resort, and is on the International Selkirk Loop and two National Scenic Byways (Wild Horse Trail and Pend Oreille Scenic Byway). Among other distinctions awarded by national media in the past decade, in 2011 Sandpoint was named the nation's "Most Beautiful Small Town" by Rand McNally and USA Today. Interesting enough, Sandpoint is the birthplace of Sara Palin, the controversial Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008. Sandpoint is also the birthplace of Ben Stein, lawyer, writer, political commentator and actor, who had a major supporting in the 1986 classic John Hughes comedy, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[173]

[edit] March 1, 2016: Ting Mobile Slashes International Call Prices

Telecompaper reported on March 1, 2016 that Ting Mbile has announced improved international calling rates for all of its customers, offering much lower rates to call over 150 countries. Pricing is identical on both the GSM and CDMA services and international calling is now enabled by default on all Ting accounts. The prices start at USD 0.01 a minute to Canada and Mexico, down from USD 0.15 and USD 0.20 respectively. Examples of other popular destinations include China, the Philippines and the UK, which now all cost USD 0.02 a minute, compared to USD 0.10, USD 0.52 and USD 0.52 respectively.[174][175]

[edit] February 28, 2016: Ting Fiber Expects to Finish Wiring Charlottesville Within the Year

Charlottesville Tomorrow reported on February 28, 2016 that Ting Fiber expects to have the infrastructure in place to serve the entire city of Charlottesville within the year. “We are moving into Fifeville, [Jefferson Park Avenue] and the Fry’s Spring neighborhoods,” said Baylor Fooks, co-founder of Blue Ridge InternetWorks which was acquired by Ting Fiber in 2014. “We have coverage in those neighborhoods; we are just waiting for the rest of the poles to be permitted.” To serve a new neighborhood, Ting must string fiber-optic cables to existing utility poles, a process that requires permitting. “We spent a great deal of our first 12 months getting permits and essentially upgrading utility poles so they are ready for us to attach to,” Fooks said. “That process took a little longer than we had hoped.” Getting the fiber-optic cables required for Ting’s service installed across town has been challenging, thanks to deteriorating utility poles and other utilities getting priority, Fooks said.

Once a neighborhood has the requisite infrastructure, Ting still must run fiber-optic cables to individual houses before service can start. That process is not cheap: the services come with a $399 setup fee. For North Downtown customer Ricardo Padron, the initial expense has been worth it. “The install was $400, and we got it for $200 through a special offer,” he said. “I think it should pay for itself inside a year, but that was my one issue, the expense.” Once the house has been wired, customers pay $89 a month for the gigabit service, according to Ting’s website. With Ting installed, Padron and his family canceled their Comcast cable service and have not looked back. In the absence of cable TV, the Padrons rely on streaming services such as Netflix. “We realized that we didn’t watch a lot of cable, we were mostly streaming, and we weren’t satisfied with Comcast Internet,” he said. “The streaming is beautiful. We have noticed that the picture quality is markedly better.”

With citywide availability about a year away, Ting has its sights set on eventual expansion into Albemarle County. Making the leap from urban to rural service provider promises bigger challenges, Fooks said. “It definitely becomes a more difficult problem the less dense the community is,” he said. Without help from the Albemarle government, expansion much past the urban ring will be tough. “The rural communities that have been successful in attracting fiber companies like Ting have made all these resources available to the private sector,” Fooks said. Albemarle has issued a request for proposals for a plan to extend high-speed Internet to the more remote parts of the county, and fiber-optic will be a crucial part of the infrastructure.[176]

[edit] February 16, 2016: Ting Fiber is Finalizing its Plan for Holly Springs

The Triangle Business Journal reported on February 16, 2016 that Elliot Noss says Ting Fiber is in the middle of a “demand generation exercise” to figure out if there’s sufficient interest in Holly Springs. "For the next few weeks, not only is the company gauging Holly Springs’ interest, but it’s also evaluating which neighborhoods are most interested in fiber," writes Lauren K. Ohnesorge. "Should there be a roll out as planned, it’s likely those neighborhoods would be targeted first." Noss says the Ting Fiber plans to invest between $3 million and $6 million in Holly Springs in 2016. “That will allow a significant portion of the city to have access to fiber,” says Noss. “Most of that will go toward network engineering and construction, which we’re hoping to start shortly.” Ting Fiber plans to invest in local staff, facilities and network equipment in Holly Springs. The number of staff hired will depend on what the final plan is, he says – “and what skills and people we can find locally.”[177]

[edit] February 9, 2016: Tucows Announces Strong Growth in Fourth Quarter

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through February 9, 2016. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 498% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 44% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.
Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) (Click on chart to expand.)
Tucows EBITDA Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

See also:

[edit] Quarterly Revenue Increased 16% YOY

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that revenue for Q4 surpassed the $45 million mark for the first time bringing the total for the year to almost $173 million, representing year-over-year growth of 16% and 17% respectively. "Over the course of the year, we saw steady growth in the gross margin contribution of Ting Mobile as the customer base expanded," said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. "In fact, the fourth quarter marked the milestone of sorts as, for the first time, the gross margin contribution of our network access business exceeded that of our domain services business."[178]

[edit] Net Income for the Year Increased 82% YOY

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that net income for the full year came to $11.4 million or $1.04 per share, an 82% increase from $0.57 per share in Q4 of 2014. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2015 increased to $3.1 million or $0.29 per share from $1.9 million or $0.16 per share in Q4 of 2014.[179]

[edit] Adjusted EBITDA for the Year Increased 70% YOY

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that adjusted EBITDA for the year came in at $25.6 comfortably above Tucows' increased guidance of $25 million and representing year-over-year growth of 79% for the quarter and 70% for the year.[180]

[edit] Tucows Provides Guidance of $30 million Adjusted EBITDA for 2016

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that the company is providing adjusted EBITDA guidance of $30 million, up from the $25 million achieved in 2015. "We note that this includes a roughly $2.5 million benefit from the continued decline of the Canadian dollar as well a roughly $2.5 million operating investment in the Ting Internet business as it gets off the ground.," said Noss. "We feel good about this number as striking nice balance between growth and investing in the future."[181]

[edit] Tucows Had a Decrease of $4.1 Million in Cash Flow from Operating Activities

Michael Cooperman reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows had a decrease in cash and cash equivalents of $4,175,107 from the end of the previous quarter. "Turning to the balance sheet, cash and cash equivalents at the end of Q4 2015 was $7.7 million compared with $11.9 million at the end of Q3 2015 and $8.3 million at the end of Q4 2014. The decrease relative to the end of Q3 is primarily the result of our using $5.4 million during the most recent quarter to repurchase just over 231,000 shares under our open market share buyback program," said Cooperman. "We also used $1.3 million for payment of withholding taxes on the net exercise of stock options by employees and directors. In addition, we invested just over $900,000 to acquire additional property and equipment, the majority of which was invested in expanding Ting's Internet fiber footprint. These uses of cash were partially offset by positive cash flow from operating activities of approximately $1.5 million."[182]

[edit] Tucows Invested $0.9 million, Primarily in Ting Fiber

Michael Cooperman reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows invested just over $900,000 to acquire additional property and equipment, the majority of which was invested in expanding Ting's Internet fiber footprint.[183]

[edit] Tucows Repurchased 231,000 Shares in Q4 for $5.4 million

Michael Cooperman reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows spent $5.4 million during the most recent quarter to repurchase just over 231,000 shares under our open market share buyback program.

Elliot Noss added that "that brought the total number of shares repurchased under the open market program to just shy of 850,000. With another 194,000 purchased under the Dutch Tender earlier in the year. In total, in 2015, we repurchased a little over 1 million shares or a little more than 9% of shares outstanding at the end of 2014 for a total investment of $23.6 million."[184]

[edit] Tucows Board Approves Up to $40 million for Stock Buybacks in 2016

Tucows announced on February 9, 2016 that its Board of Directors approved a stock buyback program to repurchase from time to time up to $40 million of its common stock in the open market. The new $40 million buyback program will commence February 10, 2016 and will terminate on or before February 9, 2017. The Company’s previous buyback program, which commenced February 16, 2015 and was scheduled to end on or before February 15, 2016, has been terminated as the Company has repurchased approximately $20 million of its common stock, the maximum dollar amount permitted under that program. Purchases for the new $40 million buyback program will be made exclusively through the facilities of the NASDAQ Capital Market. All shares purchased by Tucows under the stock buyback program will be retired and returned to treasury.[185]

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows has raised their stock buybacks to $40 million because this year Tucows topped out of our number. "You can see just by doing the math on what we’ve announced that we missed out on some real value in the last couple of weeks or the open window of this year. I think the best answer I could give you, Pat, is EBITDA went up 60% this year and the stock is up less than 2%. I think if I’m not mistaken it closed today at less than we were tendering for in January of 2015 and we got less than 20% of that tender. So we kind of felt that markets are somewhat irrational, and if they choose to be we want to be ready. One of the things that I said in the last couple of calls and certainly talked about with the number of investors, it’s a balance and the choice between how much money we put in the ground in fiber, how much money we spend on the stock, how much money we look at other opportunities with is really about the specific opportunity that we’re looking at, at that specific time. So I just -- I can tell you about it if the stocks stayed around these prices all of next year and that could be because of the exogenous global factors, we could spend that much money."[186]

[edit] February 9, 2016: Ting Mobile Continues to Grow

Number of Ting Mobile Customers Note: Ting started in February 2012. Prior to the earnings report for 2013:Q4 Tucows did not break out the number of customers or devices so the number of customers in Q1 through Q3 for 2013 is estimated. (Click on chart to expand.)
Gross Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Chart 6: Churned Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)
Net Additional Customers Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

[edit] Ting Mobile Added 6,000 Accounts and 10,000 Devices in Q4 2015

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Mobile added 6,000 accounts and 10,000 devices in Q4. "That brings our total to 128,000 and 202,000 devices, again, impressive numbers from zero just four years ago and 5% sequential growth in the base in a quarter is good in any business but still a disappointing finish to the year considering our stronger rate of growth up to this point."[187]

[edit] Ting Mobile's Churn Rate Rises to 2.73%

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Mobile had an uptick in churn to 2.73% for the quarter. Previous quarters had reported churn of 2.5%. "As we’ve discussed before this is partly the product of our growing and slightly more transient customer base in the GSM service. It might also reflect some ongoing follow-up from our travails with customer support following the spread changes in Q1 and likely also reflects a more difficult competitive environment as has been noted by the incumbents over the last couple of quarters in their conference calls. Importantly, we are now large enough to see meaningful gains in any small improvements to our retention."

"So we are diving deep into every bit of data at our disposal both structured and unstructured to find the drivers and predictors of churn and to launch tactics against them. We have plenty of arrows in our quiver. We have a support team now that is not only staffed to answer every call quickly and handle every issue capably but one that has started taking on proactive outbound initiatives to welcome, nurture and save. We can extend ourselves further to help customers switch devices or networks to improve their experience. We can do more to help our customers manage their usage and realize the kind of savings we know they would not be able to get with any other provider."[188]

[edit] Tings Average Monthly Customer Spend is $37, Gross Margins Are a Little Above 50%, and Acquisition Costs are Under $100 Per Customer

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that key customer metrics on the business remain the same, average customer revenues about $37 a month, a phone bill of $23 to $24 per device, gross margins are just north of 50% and average cost for acquisition is still comfortably under $100.[189]

[edit] Net Adds for Q1 Will Increase to 11,000 With One-Time Influx of Customers from T-Mobile MVNO PTel

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that net adds for Q1 2016 will be comfortably over 11,000 due to a one-time influx of customers from another key T-Mobile MVNO PTel that closed its doors after 15 years in the business. "Those customers will help give us the best quarter of gross adds we have ever had and likely put our net adds comfortably over 11,000. So good news for sure and it is just great to have that recurring margins starting right at the beginning of the year but we do not wanted to distract from a base line net adds trend but that we are determined to improve. As always, we will keep you apprised as we engage in the work."

In response to a question from Huberk Mak, Noss added that aside from the one time influx of customer from PTel, future net adds will be closer to Q4 than it was for the fourth quarter previous of 9,000. "But again, as is always our practice, we are going to look to know next quarter what worked and what didn't. I don’t mind unpacking because we didn’t do it in the remarks and there is a lot of stuff there that with retail we’ve seen a little bit of kind of a little ray of positivity there. We found a little bit in pile of things we’re trying that looks like it is a keeper. Now we got to keep out it, I don’t want to be too specific about it but so we’re it obviously did blow the doors off the numbers but we do see some stuff that looks it is worth keeping in the mix."

In answer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Noss added that "the PTel thing was fairly one off. We’ve always looked for customer basis on the mobile side, any banker who asks me what they can find for me in terms of assets, so if there is any banker listing out there, I always talk about mobile customer basis but it’s not only that there is a mobile customer basis that only that they want to set but it’s also that they have a pricing paradigm that allows us to migrate pretty quickly. We‘re not really super eager to run a bunch of multiple brands or leave at different price point. That kind of complexity as we got the -- is what has gotten in the incumbents in such trouble with their billing and back office and their whole customer service, and we will avoid that. So I think PTel is a little bit one off."[190]

[edit] Ting Mobile Will Be Shifting Its Marketing Approach to Gathering Leads and Nurturing Those Leads to Conversion

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Mobile will be shifting from a pure marketing approach to acquisition with a focus on driving awareness and traffic to the site, to a sales approach that includes greater effort to gather leads and nurture those leads to conversion. "So much of what we’ve done over the past four years has been intended to break the mold of how carriers typically operate including how they acquire customers because we believe there is a lot there but it’s inefficient and ineffective. We’ve been incredibly successful in this regard. Now we’re just taking a peek back at both and identifying some tactics that particularly when done in our voice and with our customer driven approach could make growing this business a bit easier."

Noss added in answer to a question from David Tomljenovic that the marketing strategy should not impact the customer acquisition cost. "We think that -- so everything we are looking at tends to come in at the margin at similar levels to what we are paying now. So when I say paying now, remember I always gear as anybody does a blended number. So what we are paying for that marginal customers certainly more expensive than that. And what we’re seeing in the things that we’re trying doesn’t really blow that number up much. Probably most importantly, David, there is such a gap in the economics of customers for us, there's such a gap between the long-term value of the customer and the customer acquisition cost that, frankly, if I could ramp it up significantly I would happily double my CAC."

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Noss added that "we want to kind of take some more traditional approaches but do them in our way, in a slightly different way. I don’t want to hear market better have a more clever television commercial or they’re doing the NFL Halftime Show and we'll at the NBA Halftime Show. It’s not at all like that. I think you’ve heard about some specific approaches and we think inside of those specific approaches we can do that in our voice and in our way, and really hopefully get some traction out of that."[191]

[edit] Ting Mobile's Gross Margins Are About Right

In answer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that gross margins in the long-term range of 45% to 50% which we think strikes a nice balance. "We are a little bit at the top end of that range. I think if we were convinced today that materially dropping price would something that would really change move the needle, we might look at it. I would note that sadly for us the place where we would most want to address price is in data pricing, and that’s the place where we have the lowest margins. So we really have the least flexibility there unless we want to start to play the breakage gate and that gets a little bit more dangerous or little bit more risky. So we think today that there is so much value still in the packages that we’re offering that we’re really looking at other things to try and sort of move the needle."

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Noss added that Ting Mobile does not have the absolute lowest price although for a significant portion of users we do. "I think that there is enough savings and you could still just look at the fact that the vast majority of the market I want to say high 80% of the U.S. market is with the big four carriers and we are absolutely less expensive than they are for the vast majority of users. So there is enough value in the pricing."[192]

[edit] Ting Mobile is Extending Their Distribution Through Krogers, Staples, and Amazon.com

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Mobile is extending their product distribution beyond their website for the first time with Ting SIM cards on the shelves of Kroger and Staples locations nationwide and an Amazon.com. "Now, we will seek to expand and promote these partnerships more aggressively. The early returns show that there is some potential and we have to see what this can become with some nurturing. We are also pursuing channel partnerships that we know are a big part of the acquisition mix for the major carriers. These include affinity and advocacy groups, trade associations and large employers that routinely secure special offers for their members."

In answer to a question from Pete Lanctot, Noss added that "we were lucky to get in stores just on the sell in time for the holiday season but we weren't able to do any in-store promotion or end-caps and we were able to do some of that in January. If you had been in the right Kroger you might have seen on the floor in front of the Tucows -- sorry, from the Ting SIM cards in front of all the SIM cards on that floor a big kind of team sticker I guess I'd call it on the floor. And it's things like that that we think can start to help and contribute or at least determine what the potential of these really sort of push on the potential these opportunities. And I think the other element of that is longer term, Pete, and that one of the things that we hear from our customers all the time is this version of, "I love you guys, I tell my friends about you, they have never heard of you and don’t have a clue who you are," and that hurts. And they’re telling us this because it is hurting their ability to kind of hurt their friends. So we think that things like these in-store retail displays will help that, if there is just a credibility in that, all I saw that on the aisle, on the floor that must be real. And so that’s something that really takes a fair bit of time in the oven to contribute."[193]

[edit] Ting Mobile Is Fully Staffed At Their Call Center

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that their support team is now not only staffed to answer every call quickly and handle every issue capably but has started taking on proactive outbound initiatives to welcome, nurture and save customers. "We can extend ourselves further to help customers switch devices or networks to improve their experience. We can do more to help our customers manage their usage and realize the kind of savings we know they would not be able to get with any other provider."[194]

[edit] Ting Mobile Is Finding that GSM Customers Are More Transient

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that GSM customers are more transient causing greater churn. "ecause GSM is a global standard, you can find phones more easily than you can with CDMA or phones with the Sprint Network, and so people tend to come and go little easier. One of the things that I talked about on earlier calls is that there is a certain percentage of the user base, for instance, Snowbirds from Canada or people who are coming over from Europe to work for a year, those people who used to potentially use CDMA now would be much more like when you use GSM phones. So we just see this higher churn level on the GSM side, we’re trying to put as fine a point on it as we can, but that’s the best way of understand it."

However Noss added that the long term value of CDMA and GSM customers is pretty similar. "When you start to sort of throw all the costs into the file, the long-term value of customers looks pretty similar and we still think the more important sort of product variable is to not confuse people by making them do things like too arbitrarily have to choose a network, people don’t understand things like that. So really what we’ve done historically we've been seeing product experience through the purchase is have the device drive it. Now we have identified a couple of places where we might be confusing people a little more than we hope and we’re in the process of cleaning those up."[195]

[edit] February 9, 2016: Ting Fiber is Moving Ahead

[edit] Ting Fiber is Active in Westminster MD, Charlottesville VA, and Holly Springs NC

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Internet continues to build both networks and brand awareness in our current towns and talk to perspective new towns. "We're now servicing business in residential gigabit Internet customers in a couple of neighborhoods in Westminster, Maryland, and are leading the next phase of the municipal fiber build there. We’re also serving customers in most parts of Charlottesville, Virginia where we are building the fiber network ourselves. We announced in Q4 and discussed here on the Q3 call that we would begin demand assessment in Holy Springs, North Carolina, a potential third Ting town. This process of demand assessment represents a simple but profound change in the way we are now managing our Ting Internet business."

"So just to run through some basic parameters in the Ting Internet business we’re now in three towns including Holy Springs with the total of roughly 35,000 potential serviceable addresses. That is addresses that we could eventually build to and service in these towns. We expect to add at least that many potential serviceable addresses again this year with new towns. We continue to benchmark the cost of building and connecting a home at roughly $2,500 and the gross margin from connecting a whole and roughly $1,000 per year." [196]

[edit] Tucows has Invested $900,000 in Ting Fiber this Quarter and Expects Capex Investment in Ting Fiber to be Around $15 to $20 million in 2016

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows has invested just over $900,000 to acquire additional property and equipment, the majority of which was invested in expanding Ting's Internet fiber footprint.

Noss said that he expects CapEx investment in fiber to be in the range of $15 million to $20 million. "There is some variability in this number and it really is just a best guess at this point. It should not be looked out with the same precision at EBITDA guidance. It is unlikely to be much more than that and it could possibly be less. I also note that CapEx investment in fiber is beneficial from a tax perspective."[197]

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that "the one caveat he wants to put on the $15 to $ 20 million investment is that "I did say that’s something that’s really going to evolve it’s going to depend on the speed of the builds, it’s going to depend also on the type of builds. So there is some markets that we look at as you saw in Charlottesville where we bought some fiber going in. So you could see some of that money actually spent potentially on small acquisition of a fiber network just as easily as laying fiber in the ground."[198]

[edit] Ting Fiber Will Refine the Pipeline in 2016, Break Even in 2017/2018, and Contribute in a Real Way in 2019

In answer to a question from John Lewis, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that "in 2016, we are really sort of refining the pipeline elements. I don’t think we’re really good at it yet, but that’s what you got to do in business and get out there and iterate and learn. I think that we see all the time we watch Google fiber very closely, we see them learning lessons with every market they go into, and they're a great learning machine, so we watch them pretty closely. And there is really nobody else engaged in a similar exercise that kind of working through a pipeline, willing to go coast to coast, and willing to do gigabit fiber like that. So we think as more people come in to the market that we more learning to have."

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows investors should think about investment in 2016 and most of 2017 and that Ting Fiber should start to swing to breakeven late in 2017 or early in 2018 and contribute in a real way in 2019. "We see the investment through that time period being a reasonable one, not one that will cause EBITDA to stop consistently growing. As is our practice we will continue to share visibility as we learn and experience more and as the first markets start to ripen."[199]

[edit] Tucows is Using a 15 year Amortization Period for Hardware in Ting Fiber

In asnwer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Elliot Noss said in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows is using an amortization period of "typically 15 years with some significant acceleration in the first year."[200]

[edit] It is Still Possible Ting Fiber May Enter 3 to 5 New Markets in 2016 - With Two Caveats

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that entering three to five new markets in 2016 is still possible but there are two caveats. "One, sometimes municipal processes move a little slower than one would like and I think that as we get further incidence we see more of that, but two, and probably more importantly, it’s going to be about the number of homes we pass as much as it's going to be about the number of markets. So we’ve got a couple slightly larger markets that were looking at and we might do little bit less in terms of number of markets but the same amount of kind of fiber in the ground. So I do want to put that caveat out there as well."[201]


Comment on January 7, 2017: Nasdaq reported on March 2, 2016 that Ting Fiber has announced plans to bring crazy fast fiber Internet to the Greater Sandpoint, ID area including the towns of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Comsumers in those towns can pre-order Ting Internet at ting.com/sandpoint as part of the initial “demand assessment” phase. Assuming there is sufficient demand for fiber, network construction would begin later in 2016.

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that in March, Ting Internet announced their fourth market for consideration, the Greater Sandpoint, Idaho area, where we would serve the town of Sandpoint and eventually the towns of Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. "The area has a combined population of around 10,000 residents. Smaller than our first three markets. Indeed, Sandpoint is likely smaller than any town that any commercial provider in the new wave of gigabit internet providers has looked at in the U.S. A number of you have asked me, if it make sense to build a fiber network in a market this size. We look at each market individually and there were a few factors here. First, Sandpoint has reasonable density, over 1,000 people per square mile. Second, Sandpoint has solid connectivity to the greater internet. But Sandpoint has one market condition that none of our other markets have. The best internet connection you can reliably buy in Sandpoint is 12-megabits per second. That is extremely slow. We are told that it is often also unreliable and expensive. Market like Sandpoint is an important experiment, to see whether the increased take-up rate we expect from less competition makes up for some slight operating inefficiencies."[202]

Tucows announced on September 21, 2016 that Ting will be bringing fiber to Centennial, CO, population 107,201 (2014 Census), the largest Ting town by population to date.[203]

[edit] Tucows Says There are Lots of Target Markets for Ting Fiber

In answer to a question from David Tomljenovic, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that there are lots of target markets for Ting Fiber and that that's only going to increase. "There's nearly 20,000 cities and towns in the U.S., some have political issues, many, many, many don’t. So when I talked earlier about municipal politics small p, getting in the way it’s really just about decision making processes and information flows and things like that. So we’re not in any way feeling opportunity constrain, we think there is loads of target out there and that that's only going to increase."[204]

[edit] It is Too Early To See if Ting Fiber Will Have a Cross Branding Effect on Ting Mobile

In answer to a question from Patrick Retzer on whether Ting Fiber has seen any cross selling benefit for the Ting mobile, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Tucows has not even begin to actually market in that way and we won’t probably until Charlottesville will is the first market that’s going to ripen for us. "t will take another year or two before we are through just building out the town addressing all the MDUs of the great opportunities, we haven’t even -- there is so much turn our mind to there and what inevitably happen is you start to get some contiguous opportunities. And so, we've got a lot of need on the brand before were turning our mind to that I think. So it's naturally the case and we looked at some of the data, people are markedly with the brand, people have a good experience, they want to know about it."[205]

[edit] Investing in Infrastucture Like Fiber Is a Very Safe and Positive Return Play

In answer to a question from Mark Miller, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that when you’re talking to banks about infrastructure and construction it’s a lot more comfortable for them. "So what I can tell you, Mark, is that what I’ve seen out in the market and by this I mean some of the other fiber builds and fiber companies and their relationships with lenders, it’s quite encouraging. There is a lot of money looking, as you know, lot of money looking for good consistent return and boy investing in infrastructure like fiber is just – it’s a very safe and positive return play."[206]

[edit] The Current Demand for Ting Fiber in 2016 is About 7,000 Homes

In answer to a question from John Lewis, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that the current demand for 2016 for fiber is something like 7,000 homes.

John Lewis: I think the read is the current demand for 2016 for fiber is something like 7,000 homes; is that approximately right?

Elliot Noss: What did you do to get to that 7,000, was that a 20% of 35,000?

John Lewis: Yes, basically, and then I tied kind of your CapEx number.

Elliot Noss: So remember that you’re going to be based on two things there, one, that 35,000 is being finished in all three of these towns, right, and in one of these three towns it’s not our build, it’s city build. So exactly not all of these towns are going to be built; certainly Holly Springs will not be completed in 2016, we would love to get to a nice piece of it if everything checks out there. Charlottesville we will start to get pretty close but would probably spill into 2017 somewhat. And the second thing is is in the early stages of builds and Holly Springs are starting de novo. In the early stages of build, you’re also building a fair bit of mile, right, you’re not kind of -- it is tough to kind of take the CapEx spend and then just turn it into serviceable addresses. I think that as we kind of continue vary I wanted to sort of layout couple of important things here is what 2016 looks like, here's what the longer term look at the fiber business looks like, it is going to sometime in the next couple of quarters when I start to give some visibility some penetration in Charlottesville.[207]

[edit] The Most Important Factor for Ting Fiber to Enter a New Market is the Willingness of a City to Work Together

In answer to a question from John Lewis, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that "at the very top of the list is a city willingness to kind of work closely with us, their engagement and excitement around fiber itself and so is the right infrastructure mix whether that's access to poles or conduits, whether that's sort of a preexisting fiber builds there is things like that really can make the whole exercise much, much easier. And we’re getting better at that, I think I’ve said in the last call that in '15 we were kind of learning how do I deal with the blocking and tackling and actually lighting up a customer, getting the install process down, getting the core elements of customer service."[208]

[edit] February 9, 2016: Domain Services are Steady

[edit] Another Quarter of Solid Performance in Domain Services

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that there was 2015 was another year of solid performance from our domain services business and Q4 was no exception.

Retail was the primary growth driver there with revenue up 18% for both the quarter and the year. We continue to see contribution growth well in excess of 20% as a result of the operating leverage in the business. We expect continued solid numbers out of retail going forward based on our outstanding customer service and experience. This was once again underscored by year-over-year customer growth of more than 14% as well as the renewal rate that was well into the 80s.

In our wholesale channel increased margins per domain and reduced cost resulted in a strong year of business results. Driven by the shift in sales mix the higher margin registration, average margin for domain in Q4 was 13% year-over-year and bested the Q3 number which was the highest we’ve seen in years.

Our renewal rate on wholesale dipped just a bit in Q4 to 76%, still an outstanding rate relative to the industry. This was driven by a few large resellers that had already left our service transferring your domain names away upon renewal and is not representative of the larger base.

We added another nine new gTLDs in Q4 more importantly we now have nearly 2,400 resellers who have registered at least one new gTLD. Adoption of multiple TLDs by resellers tends to bring three distinct benefits to our business, incremental registration, increased margin per domain, and greater loyalty to our service. Contribution from our international resellers continues to grow with market outside of North America and Western Europe accounting for 28% of new registration in Q4.[209]

[edit] Tucows Released an Additional Batch of Domain Names

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that "an additional batch of domain names acquired with the June 2006 acquisition of Mailbank.com should not be renewed and were allowed to expire. Accordingly, these domain names with a book value of $137,000 have been written off and reported as an impairment of indefinite life intangible assets."[210]

[edit] Tucows is Not Actively Exploring the Sale of Its Domain Portfolio

In answer to a question from John Lewis on whether there is some number that Tucows would consider for the sale of its domain portfolio, Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that "we don’t think it’s a likely for us."

John Lewis: GoDaddy is gotten more active in buying domain portfolios and I went to your site and saw if you add up your 70,000 dotcoms I think the asking price is about $90 million. I know obviously it's a illiquid asset and you only sell a tiny fraction of that every year, but I know you have a lot of attractive opportunities to invest capital including aggressive share repurchases. How do you think about what rate or what discount you would take for, I mean, obviously, it's all theoretical but is there some number here that you would consider exploring a sale of that domain portfolio?

Elliot Noss: Yes, so I think that, what would I say? Probably, two things. One, we always talk to everybody. I mean, you've known us long enough to know that we're a relationship organization and so we’re always talking to everybody. Other than GoDaddy there are a not a lot of buyers for the very high end of that market. I think the second thing I'd share, Is we look at that as of practical not a strategic asset. And so the number is probably somewhere between what you trade at and what we can get today.

John Lewis: Sorry, wait just to understand what you said there. Do you mean the carrying value and what you’re asking for it?

Elliot Noss: No, no, it’s not like we have an asking price for the portfolio, it's -- we probably wouldn’t need it to be accretive at an EBIDTA level in a sale, but it’s not we haven’t seen a price that we like at all. We don’t think it’s a likely for us.

John Lewis: Okay, just for simplicity is it, I mean would you have to take is it $0.40 on the dollar of the asking price, ballpark or can you any give any kind of range on what it’s could work is it fairly significant asset?

Elliot Noss: Yes, it’s a significant asset probably to give you a range I would be compromising my ability to do the best for you with.[211]

[edit] February 4, 2016: MVNOs: The Phone Companies People Actually Love

Bloomberg published a story on February 4, 2016 that says that MVNOs now account for 36 million (1 in 10) U.S. wireless subscriptions, roughly double their 2009 numbers while during the same time period, subscriptions at the Big Four rose 28 percent. According to Bloomberg in the old days, the US had 150 U.S. MVNOs but even with brands like Walt Disney and ESPN backing them, many failed in a matter of months, often squeezed by the cost of network capacity. Today the U.S. has about 300 MVNOs, 60 percent of them profitable, estimates Alex Besen, chief executive officer of consulting firm Besen Group. However the success of the new generation of MVNOs imposes a ceiling on how much each can grow. The Besen Group estimates that 50 to 60 MVNOs will be launched in 2016 making it tough to make new MVNOs stand out.

Driving their rise are two fundamental changes in the way the wireless industry operates. First T-Mobile led an industrywide push away from the two-year service contracts familiar to U.S. wireless customers, making it easier for people to comparison shop and change providers. Second phone companies stopped the practice of “locking” their phones, meaning that for the first time you could move your iPhone from Sprint’s network to AT&T’s without having to buy a new one. “The shift in how handsets are purchased has been hugely beneficial for MVNOs,” says Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, an analyst for Strategy Analytics.

Three MVNO brands sit at the top of Consumer Reports’ latest industry rankings for customer service satisfaction—Consumer Cellular, Ting, and Republic Wireless. "Good customer service and low prices have a pretty broad audience," says Michael Goldstein, a vice president at Ting, which claims about 200,000 subscribers. “Those of us who are hungry and are doing back flips are doing a better job pleasing people.”[212]

[edit] January 14, 2016: Ting Fiber Begins Pre-Orders for Holly Springs

The Ting Blog announced on January 14, 2016 that residents of Holly Springs can express interest in Ting Fiber by pre-ordering - "plunking down $9 to commit to installation of gigabit fiber Internet from Ting early in the process." The $9 pre-order commitment will help Tucows gauge where the most serious interest lies and Ting expects to have some firm network plans to share by the end of this calendar quarter "It’s a complex process and requires a lot of work before any fiber is laid. That said, it’s a process we have experience with and that we are comfortable navigating."[213]

Elliot Noss reported in the fourth quarter earnings report conference call on February 9, 2016 that Ting Fiber has added a $9 million preorder option to its website for prospects that are not yet serviceable in towns that we are doing this work. "This allows us to measure interest and secure adoption in towns and neighborhoods before ever investing to build there. It will be a crucial part of our process now as we compare respective towns and plan our builds in existing towns."[214]

[edit] December 21, 2015: Elliot Noss Discusses Ting Mobile and Fiber Strategy During Podcast with 'Domain Name Wire'

Tucows CEO Elliot Noss had a 34 minute podcast with Andrew Alleman of 'Domain Name Wire' on December 21, 2015 where he talked in detail about Ting's strategy in both mobile and fiber and why these businesses are particularly suited to Tucows.

[edit] Ting Business Processes Are a Natural Extension to Hover

Noss said that one of the things that he habitually overestimated in the domain name business was service providers' ability to upsell and cross sell and that Tucows had this experience with its reseller network and that was the idea they brought to Ting Mobile. "My original conception of it and the way I was able to sell my board and then Sprint was that we had this fantastic distribution network and that was how we were going to be different as an MVNO because I had to answer lots of 'MVNO has never worked before, why should this be different questions.' Luckily for us, the retail offering used a lot of the same approaches as Hover and it really did take off and it's really a very successful business."

Noss said that the original idea of Ting Mobile was "Let's design a mobile phone service that you would want to be a customer of." According to Noss there really wasn't any great prescience other than looking at what Tucows was doing at a business process level with Hover and identifying that Tucows could be in the MVNO space with essentially the same set of business processes. "When I took [the Ting Mobile idea] to the original engineer that I engaged with and asked 'Here is Sprint's API and is there any reason this can't just look like a registry under our (Hover) platform. And he said, No, that's not a problem.' Because if we would have had to do what others did which was outsource the billing system, outsource the customer interface we wouldn't have been able to innovate around pricing and service design in the same way."

"It is even less of a logical leap [to go into internet service]. Almost from the time we first launched Ting Mobile we were getting tweets and comments on Facebook. 'Now I love my phone company, can you please replace my cable company.' There was kind of a natural clamoring. Obviously the business systems are even less of a leap."

[edit] Tucows Likes to Compete Against Large Entrenched Monopolies and Oligopolies

Noss said that he thinks that his business career has been defined by being a tiny little guy taking on large incumbents and monopolies and he would much rather compete against a cable company than GoDaddy.

[edit] Ting Fiber Uses the Capex That Ting Mobile Throws Off

Noss said that Ting Mobile has fantastic unit economics but because of the way Ting Mobile engages in marketing there are scalability challenges. "We can't spend twice or three times, or ten times as much and keep our customer acquisition metrics the same. There are kind of natural limits."

But according to Noss Ting Mobile is spinning off loads of cash which Ting Fiber can use because it is a very capital intensive business. "You flip over to the fixed internet business. Very different. Tons of Capex. But that is good because we have capital to deploy as long as the returns are good."

[edit] Ting Fiber is More of a Local Business Which Aligns with Tucows' Strengths

Noss said that if you look Ting Mobile, it is a national business but Ting Fiber is deeply local. "It couldn't be more of a local business. It's about going to the local festivals, the local media, billboards. And that suits us. We find out that that is more aligned with the way we do business than this big national business."

[edit] Ting Fiber Has a Tremendous Long Term Opportunity

Noss said that Tucows deeply believes there is a tremendous opportunity with fiber because North America has slow expensive internet and the US especially just has swaths that are just way underserved. "The internet today essentially sits on retrofit infrastructure that was originally created for first telephone and then television. End to end fiber is the first purpose built infrastructure for the internet. We have no doubt that 15 years from now the vast majority of connections will be end to end fiber."[215]

[edit] December 3, 2015: Ting Gets Top Marks From Consumer Reports for Value and Customer Satisfaction for Second Consecutive Year

ABS News reported on December 3, 2015 that Consumer Reports asked 90,000 of its subscribers to rate their cell service and gave Consumer Cellular and Ting top marks for value and customer service. "We asked them about data, texting, voice and customer service. Then we asked them if they got good value for the money," said Karen Jaffe, Consumer Reports. "People who use Consumer Cellular and Ting gave top marks for value and customer service, but they were also quite pleased with the data and voice." Ting customers like Scott Yules are billed for the service they use rather than paying a flat rate. "What made me switch was the bill. My bill literally cut in half," Yules said. Ting uses both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. It offers a variety of phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Apple iPhone 6s. Ting also makes it easy to check and see whether you can use your old phone.[216]

Consumer Cellular came in first place out of 10 postpaid carriers with an overall score of 89 out of 100, followed by Ting, which scored 88. The next four carriers were GreatCall/Jitterbug, Credo Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and US Cellular, which all scored in the 70s. These smaller carriers beat the big ones with "lower costs and responsive, knowledgeable staff members" and innovative offerings. "Some of them compensate subscribers who use less service than they've planned for," Consumer Reports wrote. "For instance, Republic Wireless and Ting Wireless charge customers only for the minutes, texts, and data actually used—not what consumers signed up for."[217]

In November, 2014 Ting came out on top as the best mobile wireless provider in Consumer Reports' 2014 survey with a company rating of 91 out of 100 because of their excellent service and customer support. According to Glenn Derene, the Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, “Smaller providers like Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Republic have excellent satisfaction ratings because they’re designing innovative strategies to keep plan costs down for their customers and simplify their service options.”[218]

[edit] November 23, 2015: Tucows Participates in Fourth Annual Carroll Biz Challenge

The Ting Blog reports that Michael Goldstein, VP of Sales and Marketing, represented Ting as one of the judges at the fourth annual Carroll Biz Challenge sponsored by by the Chamber of Commerce in Carroll County where Ting Internet is rolling out fiber in Westminister. The contest offers local entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch new business ideas, make connections, and compete for valuable prizes – "think American Idol meets Shark Tank!"[219]

[edit] November 18, 2015: Fiber Construction in Holly Springs Could Begin In Early 2016 Depending on Demand

The News Observer reported on November 18, 2015 that Ting Internet is now assessing demand in Holly Springs in order to bring its gigabit download and upload speeds to the town and it is now it is up to residents to let Ting know about their interest to ensure these faster Internet speeds reach their homes and businesses. “Wherever the interest is shown on their maps is the area that they’ll target first,” said Jeff Wilson, town information technology director. “(So far) there’s been a lot of interest, and Ting has been very pleased with the demand generation.” Construction could begin as soon as early 2016, and Wilson said the company expects the “first customers to come online around early summer.”

Holly Springs built their own 13-mile fiber network in mid-2014 for $1.5 million to serve town facilities. It is now about 17 miles. Ting will be granted a license to access unused town-owned fiber and build the “last mile” to homes and businesses. “The businesses really crave it, the bandwidth that they will need for what they do,” Mayor Pro Tem Tim Sack said. “It will be a big business attractor.” But details of the fiber license agreement are still being worked out. “The town has got the fiber optic (network) in the ground that any company can come in and lease strands from us,” Sack said. A lease agreement between the Town of Holly Springs and Ting Internet would not prevent other Internet providers from leasing town fiber. “(Residents) need to be aware that they need to show interest,” Sack said. “It’s going to be up to that interest spurring Ting on to put it in the neighborhoods.”[220]

According to Triangle Business Journals, Ting joins Holly Springs’ current providers of broadband Internet service – CenturyLink, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Clarity Communications. While some Holly Springs residents do have access to fiber through other services, town officials say it’s “only a small percentage.” “The town has received numerous requests from homeowner associations, residents and businesses asking what we have been doing to attract additional providers in Holly Springs,” Wilson says.[221]

[edit] November 14, 2015: Ting Plans to Expand in Charlottesville in 2016

Samantha Baars reported on November 14, 2015 at C-ville that just five months after Ting launched its high-speed Internet network in Charlottesville, the company has given almost half the city access to "crazy fast" fiber internet. “We’re very pleased with the subscribers that we’ve received so far based on our coverage,” says Baylor Fooks, a general manager at Ting and cofounder of Blue Ridge InternetWorks. Ting has targeted downtown and several neighborhoods including Belmont, Martha Jefferson, Jefferson Park Avenue and Rugby Road and plans to expand to more homes in the city by the beginning of 2016 and into Albemarle County shortly thereafter.

According to Fooks feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Grit Cafe, a food and coffee shop with several locations including one on the Downtown Mall, has used Ting for about two months and advertises it on the sandwich board outside its door. “Internet access is obviously a huge part of our offering,” says owner Brad Uhl, adding that some customers use the cafe as a secondary office location. Grit employee Anthony Fitzgerald says that while he’s on the job, customers often praise the service and say it’s faster than theirs at home.[222]

[edit] November 5, 2015: Tucows Announces Strong Growth in Third Quarter

Tucows Adjusted EBITDASince Q1 2014. Tucows announced on November 5, 2015 that Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2015 increased 43% to $7.0 million from $4.9 million for the third quarter of 2014. "Adjusted-EBITDA grew 42% to a record $7 million," said Noss, "and brought our total for the first nine months of 2015 to just over 19 million, which is already well in excess of the 15 million we generated for all of 2014."[223]

See also:

[edit] Net Revenue Increased 15% YOY

Tucows announced on November 5, 2015 that net revenue for the third quarter of 2015 increased 15% to $44.6 million from $38.9 million for the third quarter of 2014.[224]

[edit] Net Income Increased 18% YOY

Tucows announced on November 5, 2015 that net income for the third quarter of 2015 increased to $3.2 million, or $0.29 per share, compared with $2.7 million, or $0.24 per share, for the third quarter of 2014.[225]

[edit] Adjusted EBITDA Increased 43% YOY

Tucows announced on November 5, 2015 that Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2015 increased 43% to $7.0 million from $4.9 million for the third quarter of 2014. "Adjusted-EBITDA grew 42% to a record $7 million," said Noss, "and brought our total for the first nine months of 2015 to just over 19 million, which is already well in excess of the 15 million we generated for all of 2014."[226]

[edit] Tucows Reiterates Guidance of $25 million Adjusted EBITDA for 2015

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "EBITDA for the first nine months of 2015 was just over 19 million, 19.3 million to be exact. As I’ve discussed in the past, our fourth quarter historically tends to be a little softer than the third, despite that we are comfortable reiterating the guidance we provided last quarter of $25 million for the year."[227]

[edit] Tucows Generated $6.8 million in Cash Flow from Operating Activities

Michael Cooperman reported in the third quarter earnings report conference callon November 5, 2015 that Tucows generated 6.8 million in cash flow from operating activities. "Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the third quarter of this year were 11.9 million compared to 15.3 million at the end of Q2 and 13.6 million at the end of Q3 of last year. The decrease relative to the end of Q2 of this year was primarily related to our using nearly $10 million during the quarter to repurchase 390,000 shares under our ongoing share buyback program. We also invested approximately 700,000 to acquire additional property and equipment almost all of which was increasing our fiber footprint. These uses of cash were partially offset by generating 6.8 million in cash flow from operating activities. Deferred revenue at the end of the third quarter was 74.4 million up 2% from 73 million at the end of the third quarter of last year and less than 1% from 74.3 million at the end of the second quarter of this year."[228]

[edit] Tucows Invested $0.7 million, Primarily in Ting Fiber

Michael Cooperman reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Tucows "invested approximately 700,000 to acquire additional property and equipment almost all of which was increasing our fiber footprint."[229]

[edit] Tucows Repurchased 390,000 Shares in Q3 for $10.0 million

Michael Cooperman reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Tucows spent "nearly $10 million during the quarter to repurchase 390,000 shares under our ongoing share buyback program."

Elliot Noss added that "that brings our total repurchases for 2015 to just over 637,000 shares for a total spend of $14.5 million or $22.76 a share. It is worth nothing that as our share price and trading volume continues to increase, so is our ability to spend more capital through our open market buyback program. In general this probably means, slightly more open market and slightly less such options. We continue to analyze conditions each quarter and assess the variables that we’ve talked about so many times in making the determination as to what to do."[230]

[edit] November 5, 2015: Ting Mobile Continues to Grow

Gross Adds in Ting Mobile. Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "net adds have essentially stayed the same over the past few quarters, but we’re comforted that gross adds continues to grow. Q3 was the biggest quarter for gross adds in the history of Ting."[231]
Churn in Ting Mobile. Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "our growing cancels are still mostly just a product of a growing base. We did see a slight uptick in our churn rate in Q3 to just under 2.5%. This appears to be partly the result of a more transient customer base on the GSM service, which makes sense given the increased device portability on that side. These customers typically make less effort and investment to come to Ting, generally bringing their own phones and seem a bit more likely to leave as well."[232]
Net Adds in Ting Mobile. Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that this was "the biggest quarter for new visitors and total traffic to the Web site. This indicates that our brand awareness continues to grow and that we continue to convert well on that awareness. Brand awareness is by far the metric with the greatest upside in this business. Our acquisitions suggest that more people are hearing about us every day and that our message is as compelling and our offering is competitive as ever."[233]

[edit] Ting Mobile Added 9,000 Accounts and 14,000 Devices in Q3 2015

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "Ting Mobile grew its customer base by another 8% in Q3 adding 9,000 accounts and 14,000 devices. That brings our total at the end of the quarter to 122,000 accounts and 192,000 devices."[234]

[edit] Ting's Churn Rate is 2.5%, Average Monthly Customer Spend is $37, Gross Margins Are a Little Above 50%, and Acquisition Costs are Under $100 Per Customer

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "the other key metrics on the Ting Mobile business remained strong and our financial contribution continues to improve. Average customer revenue has ticked up a couple of dollars in recent months to about $37 a month, a phone bill of $23 to $24 per device. Gross margins right now are a little higher than the top-end of our range, thus north of 50%. Average cost per acquisition is still comfortably under $100. Even at a churn rate of 2.5%, we’re paying under $100 to acquire customers that are providing great cash-on-cash returns."[235]

[edit] Net Adds Have Essentially Stayed the Same Over the Past Few Quarters

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "net adds have essentially stayed the same over the past few quarters, but we’re comforted that gross adds continues to grow. Q3 was the biggest quarter for gross adds in the history of Ting. Was also the biggest quarter for new visitors and total traffic to the Web site. This indicates that our brand awareness continues to grow and that we continue to convert well on that awareness. Brand awareness is by far the metric with the greatest upside in this business. Our acquisitions suggest that more people are hearing about us every day and that our message is as compelling and our offering is competitive as ever."[236]

[edit] Ting Mobile Expects Net Adds in Future Quarters to Be Steady

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak of Cormark Security about how net adds are looking out over the next three years, Elliot Noss answered in the third quarter earnings report conference call to "ask me next year about two years, but for now we’re pretty comfortable with steady as she goes."[237]

[edit] Growing Cancels Are a Product of a Growing Base

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "our growing cancels are still mostly just a product of a growing base. We did see a slight uptick in our churn rate in Q3 to just under 2.5%. This appears to be partly the result of a more transient customer base on the GSM service, which makes sense given the increased device portability on that side. These customers typically make less effort and investment to come to Ting, generally bringing their own phones and seem a bit more likely to leave as well."[238]

[edit] Ting Mobile Is Still Seeing Some Lagging Issues From Prior Quarters

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "we’re perhaps also seeing some lagging followed from our customer service issues of the prior quarters. In fact this shows up on both the acquisition side and the retention side. Customer referrals which have always been the centerpiece of our acquisition efforts have been down since the Sprint change in Q1 and resulted in support shortfalls. I'm relieved to report that we’re once again staffed ahead of our most optimistic projected support volumes and I'm hopeful that this will restore customer referrals and suppress churn a bit in quarters to come.

"The Sprint changes in February took a bite out of our conversion and challenged our reputation. Our customer support team got hit hard, which necessitated months without marketing, comprised our services levels, depressed referrals and provoked churn. It also fundamentally changed some of our customer service ratios, leading to understaffing which exacerbated the problem. We realized that the recovery is not quite a switch from off to on, but a process that takes time and effort to regain the momentum. We are well into that now and I believe our greatest assets are intact. We have a pricing plan that can save the overwhelming majority of Americans hundreds of dollars a year on those telephone bills. We still offer the greatest customer experience and support in the industry as validated by our consistently strong net promoter scores. And in the midst of that adversity and that quite period, we actually added a second network that gives our customers even greater choice of devices and coverage. Plus, we are coming into this holiday season with an opportunity we’ve never had before. We have just entered into partnerships with Krogers, the supermarket giant and Staples the nationwide office supply and technology chain to distribute Ting sim-cards in nearly 2,000 stores across the country. We have no idea how this program will perform or what volume of new customers these deals would contribute to our business. But I am proud to be keeping that sort of company, I am thrilled about what that sort of presence does for our mainstream awareness and credibility and I am confident now that we will discover more opportunities like these in 2016. Interestingly on the Mobile business, neither the problems that I implemented nor the opportunities that I have deemed about which show up in our financial performance anytime soon; first of all, we never stopped growing it what we tend to measures ourselves on is growth in our growth; second, more importantly, we have a large enough base now contributing recurring revenue each month. But the difference between our best and worse projections in net customer adds made very little difference in our 2015 or in our 2016 projected financials. The game we are playing now on Mobile is for results in 2017 and 2018 and of course to generate the cash we need to better capitalize on the fiber opportunities."[239]

[edit] Gross Margins Are a Managed Variable

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Tucows looks at Gross Margins "as a managed variable. So, the trade off there is always going to be one between price and growth. So, going back to February of ’14 I want to say when our margins drifted up a little bit we dropped our price and when we drop price, we drop it typically just on our rate chart across our whole base. So, if margins were to continue to climb upwards we’ll always be considering whether we want to shave their price. We like that 45%-50% range as a good balance of profitability and growth."[240]

[edit] Price Competition Will Probably Not Be As Aggressive in 2016

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "based on what we’re seeing on the ground and what we’re kind of interpolating from various CFO comments we think that probably the price competition in 2016 will not be as aggressive as it has been perhaps in the last year or two in Mobile from the incumbents."

"I think it’s not going to be as aggressive downward as it’s been in the past. I think that the move downward is typically been led by Sprint and T-Mobile and each of them have good reasons, both balance sheet and income statements to perhaps to take a pause."[241]

[edit] Ting Mobile Has Just Entered Into Marketing Partnerships with Kroger and Staples

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "just entered into partnerships with Krogers, the supermarket giant and Staples the nationwide office supply and technology chain to distribute Ting sim-cards in nearly 2,000 stores across the country. We have no idea how this program will perform or what volume of new customers these deals would contribute to our business. But I am proud to be keeping that sort of company, I am thrilled about what that sort of presence does for our mainstream awareness and credibility and I am confident now that we will discover more opportunities like these in 2016."

"We don't know what to expect from this but we know that it's either not going to help much it's going to help a little or it's going to help a lot, but at a minimum it could have increased the brand presence and awareness and we think that that’s a positive. So I think you're going to see sort of things like that, so think of that as a whole different type of initiative and there might be sort of another one or two of those through the course of ’16. And things like that materially change the arch? So when it comes to looking two to three years out to us we’re not stopping trying to be creative or nor do we believe we’re out of opportunities to ramp growth."[242]

[edit] GSM Appears to be a More Transient Customer Base

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Ting Mobile saw "a slight uptick in our churn rate in Q3 to just under 2.5%. This appears to be partly the result of a more transient customer base on the GSM service, which makes sense given the increased device portability on that side. These customers typically make less effort and investment to come to Ting, generally bringing their own phones and seem a bit more likely to leave as well."[243]

[edit] November 5, 2015: Ting Internet is Moving Ahead

[edit] Tucows Is Finding that Fiber Is a Business That Plays to Tucows Strengths

In answer to a question from Patrick Russo from Venture Capital about whether in general Ting Internet has met Tucows' expectations, exceeded them or fallen short, Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "we’re comfortable with demand. It is as complex as we thought it was and it's probably exceeded our expectations a little bit in how it plays to our strengths. We really think that it's a business that we’ll be very natural in being great at."[244]

[edit] Adoption in Westminster and Charlottseville Has Been Encouraging

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "in both Westminster Maryland and Charlottesville Virginia our first two markets, awareness and consideration of the service are growing every month and adoption so far have been encouraging. In both markets, the greatest limiting factor so far has really been the expansion of the network. In the Westminster, we’re waiting for the town to build out the second phase of the network in 2016 to reach beyond the current 500 or so serviceable addresses. In Charlottesville, where we’re building the network ourselves and currently pass about 4,000 addresses, we tend to wait for the required pool permits and partnerships in order to expand further and we’re only starting in earnest to deal with multiple dwelling units or MDUs in the last few weeks."

"In Westminster there is a really pretty small group of addresses there no more than 500 that we can service and the town is planning the next phase of the build where we really -- that will take it all a lot deeper."

"In Charlottesville things are going really well. We’re continuing to build we now are collecting demand aggregation data for Charlottesville which we hadn’t been doing up until a few weeks ago. We’ve also started to take all of the people that have expressed interest previously and to map those and with a little bit more granularity. Just the operating processes and systems on the ground continue to improve every week. The numbers continue to tick up. So I think it’s doing what we would want it to do."[245]

[edit] Ting Internet Hopes to Start Servicing Customers in Holly Springs, NC in Summer 2016

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Ting Fiber has "announced the Holly Springs, North Carolina would be our third Ting town. Holly Springs invested in the core fiber network in 2014 and had been seeking a provider to lease that fiber, expand that network and service the entire city. They were disappointed when Google Fiber announced that they were bringing gigabit Internet to Raleigh, Zuru and other nearby cities and we’re delighted that Ting was ready and willing to fill that gap. Surrounded by world-class universities, the thriving research triangle and again other higher profile fiber initiatives, Holly Springs’ businesses and residents are as gigabit ready as any community we've seen. We've begun demand assessment which has gone quite well so far and if all continues this well, we’ll start building out the network in early 2016. We hope to start servicing customers there by this summer."[246]

[edit] Ting Internet Is Still Looking at Additional Markets in 2016 in the Range of 25,000 to 100,000 Population Areas

In answer to a question from Patrick Russo from Venture Capital about new markets Ting Internet is getting into for fiber that Ting Internet hasn't announced, Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "in terms of larger so sort of materially larger we’re viewing that as opportunistic there are opportunities we’re pursuing them. They may or may not come to fruition. So I think larger we’re opportunistic -- that what you’re seeing around these population sizes when I comfortably kind of make a range of 25,000 to 100,000 there it’s likely to be the sweet spot at least through ’16 as we learn. And then as I noted last quarter we are likely to try an experiment in 2016 in a smaller geography. We’d really love to see if we can make it work at an even smaller level because we believe that if we can there is a tonne of opportunity there. And it’s again something we think can play to our strength because we’re pretty nimble and probably more nimble than a lot of the people we might be competing with. So being able to do something like that we think could be very interesting. So we’re probably going to have one experiment and like all experiments it may or may not work."[247]


Comment on January 7, 2017: Nasdaq reported on March 2, 2016 that Ting Fiber has announced plans to bring crazy fast fiber Internet to the Greater Sandpoint, ID area including the towns of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Comsumers in those towns can pre-order Ting Internet at ting.com/sandpoint as part of the initial “demand assessment” phase. Assuming there is sufficient demand for fiber, network construction would begin later in 2016.

Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on May 9, 2016 that in March, Ting Internet announced their fourth market for consideration, the Greater Sandpoint, Idaho area, where we would serve the town of Sandpoint and eventually the towns of Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. "The area has a combined population of around 10,000 residents. Smaller than our first three markets. Indeed, Sandpoint is likely smaller than any town that any commercial provider in the new wave of gigabit internet providers has looked at in the U.S. A number of you have asked me, if it make sense to build a fiber network in a market this size. We look at each market individually and there were a few factors here. First, Sandpoint has reasonable density, over 1,000 people per square mile. Second, Sandpoint has solid connectivity to the greater internet. But Sandpoint has one market condition that none of our other markets have. The best internet connection you can reliably buy in Sandpoint is 12-megabits per second. That is extremely slow. We are told that it is often also unreliable and expensive. Market like Sandpoint is an important experiment, to see whether the increased take-up rate we expect from less competition makes up for some slight operating inefficiencies."[248]

Tucows announced on September 21, 2016 that Ting will be bringing fiber to Centennial, CO, population 107,201 (2014 Census), the largest Ting town by population to date.[249]

[edit] External Trends Are Moving in Ting Fiber's Favor

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "external trends [that] continue to move in our favor, first customers are increasingly cutting the cord moving away from large traditional television packages to get more of their video entertainment over the top, that is from the Internet."

"Research from MoffettNathanson estimates the pay TV providers lost 566,000 video subscribers in Q2 2015, compared to 321,000 in Q2 2014, and that the number pay TV households is now shrinking at an annual rate of 0.7% compared with 0.1% a year ago. The customers are no longer dependent on bundled TV and Internet packages, they’re free to choose the Internet service that offers the greatest access and customer experience, and that landscape obviously favors Ting. Second, the most popular content providers continue to move towards direct subscription models that make cable TV packages even less necessary. HBO and Showtime have now both taken that step, and ESPN continues to be rumored that it will there soon. Finally, thanks to Google Fiber’s campaign and perhaps broad dissatisfaction with the incumbents, more and more towns all over the country are prioritizing their own fiber initiatives and soliciting providers like us to come service their communities. Holly Springs is a great example of this. Just a year ago, we were aggressively hitting the phones trying to get our foot in the door of municipalities. This year almost all of our pipeline is inbound. As I have said before, I do not expect the returns on Ting Internet to be material in 2016 and I do not intend to provide specific results on subscribers or financials for a while. But I am quite confident that both our internal efforts and these external forces are putting us in a great position to have a strong, profitable, sustainable business for years to come."[250]

[edit] Ting Internet Has Invested $700,000 in Property and Equipment

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Ting Internet has "invested approximately 700,000 to acquire additional property and equipment almost all of which was increasing our fiber footprint."[251]

[edit] Ting Internet Looks at Google Fiber as a Positive, Creating a Halo Effect in Communities Around Google Fiber

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that Ting Internet "looks at Google Fiber as a net positive. What you see with Holly Springs is as we described. They missed out on Google Fiber and they become hungrier and more eager, they are spurned and I don’t mean Holly Springs in particular but in general communities around Google Fiber cities. It creates a halo, so we would not be surprised if there were other Google Fiber halo towns that we add to the 2016 roster."[252]

[edit] Ting Internet Sees a $2,500 CapEx to Hook up a customer and a Yearly Gross Margin of $1,000

In answer to a question from Kaycee Ryan from Lyon Street Capital about how the Ting Internet model is shaping up, Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "a $2,500 CapEx to hookup a customer of $1,000 in gross margin a year from a customer, and that’s continuing to play out like we see more reinforcements of that data. So that’s feeling pretty good at a high level and I should note that build costs really do vary market-to-market, in Charlottesville we are actually probably doing better than that, but Charlottesville has reasons why it's probably a little bit less expensive to build but then in other ways it is more complicated to build, it is all -- I will keep going back to the head originating but it's the highest level that’s sort of the core of the model."[253]

[edit] Ting Internet Is Finding that Gross Margins Are Extremely High and There is Much Greater Stickiness Than in Ting Mobile

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "gross margins are extremely high in this business. We do expect lifetime value to be a lot higher. Both because of the gross margin and because there is much greater stickiness it's really with fiber to a house in a market like this you're really going to have to sort of either move or die to be getting rid of the service and of course I'm exaggerating, but we think it's a lot stickier."[254]

[edit] Ting Internet Will Have to do Some Aggressive Local Marketing

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "in terms of the business model is that the tactic is a much different creature with mobile because we’ll be doing so you think about we’re going to be going into a town the people of Holly Springs have never really heard of us. There sure we have a few phone customers there, but generally our unaided awareness is relatively low and if you think about going in with a business like this you really want to get on the radar, so you have to do some aggressive local marketing that’s a lot more traditional."[255]

[edit] November 5, 2015: Domain Services Delivered Another Quarter of Solid Performance

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "our Domain Services business delivered another quarter of solid performance in Q3"[256]

[edit] Wholesale Registrations Are Up 2% YOY and Margins Are up 10% YOY

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that in the "wholesale channel, total registrations were up 2% year-over-year. We were thrilled to see our renewal rate of 79% in Q2 hold through the third quarter, while the renewal rate on new gTLDs ticked up a couple of points to 72% from an already impressive level. During the quarter, we added another 46 new generic top level domains which took the total number of TLDs we support including country codes to just over 600. The number of resellers who have registered at least one new gTLD grew to 2,260 as of the end of September, up from 2,100 at the end of June and 1,900 at the end of March. It’s worth noting that the average margin per domain in our wholesale channel in Q3 was up 10% year-over-year, and 25% compared to Q3 two years ago. This is the product of a continuing shift in our sales mix to higher margin registrations. While margin per domain will vary from quarter-to-quarter, the longer term number is trending in the right direction. And in fact Q3 saw its highest level in several years."[257]

[edit] International Resellers Are An Important Driver in Wholesale Channel Growth

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that "international resellers continue to be an important driver of our wholesale channel growth with markets outside of North America and Western Europe once again accounting for a quarter of new registrations. The retail component of our domains business Hover delivered another quarter of strong growth with revenue and gross margin up 17% and 16% year-over-year respectively. Hover’s customer base continued its strong growth as it expanded 13% from a year ago."[258]

[edit] Hover Delivered Strong Growth With Revenue and Gross Margin Up 16%

Elliot Noss reported in the third quarter earnings report conference call on November 5, 2015 that the "retail component of our domains business Hover delivered another quarter of strong growth with revenue and gross margin up 17% and 16% year-over-year respectively. Hover’s customer base continued its strong growth as it expanded 13% from a year ago. "[259]

[edit] October 22, 2015: CenturyLink Responds to Ting's Gigabit Launch in Holly Springs With Phantom Gigabit Service

Karl Bode reported in DSL Reports on October 22, 2015 that Ting's announcement of gigabit service in Holly Springs has already nudged CenturyLink to begin offering gigabit service of its own in the area. "Just a day after I let Karl know that Ting is launching FTTH service here in Holly Springs NC, I get an email from CenturyLink announcing 1Gpbs service as well," notes DSLReports.com reader Shaun (see his e-mail, left). "Before this, there was zero mention that they were going to upgrade to Gbps. I currently have CenturyLink 100/50 FTTH service." However upon further inquiry CenturyLink reps admitted that the service is a bit over-marketed, and his address can't actually get gigabit service after all. According to DSL Reports CenturyLink had to apologize to Seattle residents earlier this year after the company's marketing for gigabit service wasn't reflective of actual gigabit service availability.[260]

[edit] October 20, 2015: Holly Springs is Set to be the Next Ting Internet Town

Ting announced on October 21, 2015 that Holly Springs, NC will be the next town to get symmetrical gigabit (1,000 Mbps download and upload speed) “crazy fast fiber Internet.” Holly Springs will join Charlottesville, VA and Westminster, MD where Ting Internet is already available. Demand assessment will begin in Holly Springs in the last quarter of 2015. That demand will guide construction, which could then begin as soon as the first half of 2016.[261]

Michael Goldstein wrote on the Ting Blog on October 20, 2015 that Ting is grateful for the reception and the partnership they have established with the folks in city hall in Holly Springs, NC (population 24,661) and know that it will be a productive relationship and that citizens of Holly Springs will relish faster Internet and better service. "An important first step in the buildout and delivery of Ting Internet service will be gauging where there is greatest interest." writes Goldstein. "So please take a moment to leave us your contact information here (and even pre-order when that option is available) so that we can potentially count you as raring to go and keep you posted on our progress."[262]

“We’re very happy that Ting chose Holly Springs as the next place to bring crazy fast fiber Internet. In the past 25 years, Holly Springs has grown over 2,600%. Young families with school-aged children are driving that growth. World-class Internet access will help us continue our forward progress and inspire the next generation of great ideas,” said Mayor Dick Sears. “The need for faster, more reliable Internet access across the US has been recognized by the highest levels of government,” said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “The problem of slow, expensive and unreliable Internet access is national but agreements like the one reached with Holly Springs further demonstrate that the solution is local.” “While Google Fiber and other providers race to get started in big cities, we’re finding that there’s also a lot of interest from, and opportunity in, smaller cities and towns that might otherwise get passed over,” Noss said.[263]

[edit] October 20, 2015: Tucows Offers New Three Day Promotion to Bring ATT Customers to Ting

Marketwatch reported on October 20, 2015 that for three days running through October 22, AT&T customers are invited to check their active phones, one per customer, at ting.com/byod_coffee to see if they are Ting compatible and for each phone checked, whether they prove to be compatible or not, Ting will provide a unique promo code worth $5 at any Starbucks location. "If you can bring your phone to Ting, the calculation gets very simple. You are going to have a better customer experience and you are likely going to spend less," explained Michael Goldstein, Ting VP of Sales and Marketing. "But sometime people need a more immediate incentive to take that first step. Until a better incentive comes along, we're going to stick with coffee."[264]

[edit] October 18, 2015: Baltimore Sun Highlights Ting Fiber in Westchester

Scott Dance published a front page story in the Baltimore Sun on October 18, 2015 on fiber initiatives around the Baltimore area highlighting how Westminster is joining a growing number of communities investing in networks capable of carrying a gigabit of data each second, an accomplishment that Baltimore appears eager to follow. "It was clear nobody else was going to do it for us," said Dr. Robert Wack, City Council president for Westminster, which lit up a fiber-optic network it has begun building for its residents and businesses this summer. According to Dance, Westminster's decision to invest in a fiber network was not an easy sell. "It took us a while to get traction because, frankly, we couldn't get people to take it seriously," said Wack, the City Council president. But now, the most frequent question and concern about the gigabit service — which costs residents $89 a month plus a one-time $399 installation fee — is, "Can't you get to my house sooner?" said Valerie Bortz, Westminster manager for Ting, a Canadian company that is leasing the fiber from the city. The city has spent $1.6 million to build the first 7 percent of the network, connecting about 400 homes and businesses. Officials secured a $21 million bond to cover the rest, Wack said, with strong support from city leaders and residents. "At the end of the day, it's just like any other infrastructure project we undertake," Wack said. "I think that's how every municipality and local government should approach this. This is just another type of infrastructure in the 21st century."[265]

[edit] October 8, 2015: Short Interest Increases in Tucows

Nasdaq's biweekly report on short interest shows that Tucows short interest increased to 718,536 shares on September 15, 2015 from 573,265 one month before, an increase of 25%.[266]

See also: *Nasdaq: Short Interest in Tucows

Settlement Date Short Interest Avg Daily Share Volume Days To Cover
09/15/15 718,536 80,635 8.910969
08/31/15 648,746 150,047 4.323619
08/14/15 573,265 215,356 2.661941
07/31/15 510,134 142,961 3.568344
07/15/15 459,756 132,057 3.481497
06/30/15 283,367 144,477 1.961329
06/15/15 218,845 157,296 1.391294

[edit] September 25, 2015: Two Tucows Insiders Sell Shares

Insider Trading Report reported on September 25, 2015 that David John Woroch , EVP Wholesale sold 2,000 shares on September 25, 2015 at $24.21 per share for a total value of $48,414.60.[267] Insider Trading Report reported on September 15, 2015 that Tucows CFO Michael Cooperman sold 30,279 shares on Sep 11, 2015 at $25.06 per share for a total value of $758,782.19.[268]

[edit] September 8, 2015: Tucows Holds Annual Shareholders Meeting

Tucows filed Form 8-K on September 9, 2015 confirming that they had held their annual shareholders meeting on September 8, 2015. Three matters were addressed at the annual meeting:

[edit] September 8, 2015: Ting Fiber Announces Roll-Out Plans for Charlottesville

Ting Fiber plans to cover as much ground as possible during 2015 in North Downtown, Belmont, Martha Jefferson and Locust Grove.

The Ting Blog reported on September 8, 2015 that from now until the end of 2015, Ting Fiber plans to cover as much ground as possible in North Downtown, Belmont, Martha Jefferson and Locust Grove. In the coming months, Ting Fiber will be unveiling a tool to help gauge interest in gigabit Internet in other neighborhoods.[270]

[edit] August 31, 2015: Michael Goldstein Writes About the Difference Between the Ting Mobile and the Ting Fiber Markets

Michael Goldstein, Executive Vice-President for Marketing at Tucows, wrote on the Ting Blog on August 31, 2015 that some folks have understandably questioned what seems to be a contradiction between Ting's mobile offering and Ting's Internet offering: On Ting Mobile, customers save hundreds of dollars a year because they pay just for what they use while with Ting Fiber customers pay a fixed price for unlimited high speed data.

"We never thought of Ting as the “pay for what you use” company. We think of ourselves as providing services that make sense. We offer what we believe is sorely lacking in a market. We look for situations where people are in some way underserved by the incumbents. Maybe they are underserved because there is a lack of competition. Maybe it’s because there isn’t enough money to be made for larger companies. Maybe it’s because everybody has been solving a problem one way for so long that they had stopped considering others."

"In mobile, the problem we saw was that too many people were just paying too much for service. Carriers had fixed costs and wanted to pile as much revenue as they could on existing networks so they pushed everyone to unnecessarily large amounts of usage at unnecessary prices."

"On fixed Internet for homes and small businesses, the problem we see is that existing networks are inadequate for the amazing things people can do online now and the speed at which people want to do them. These existing networks were never meant to stream video, upload and download huge files to the cloud or host meetings. But the incumbents are generating so much revenue on those existing networks and face so little competition, there really is no incentive for them to invest in anything new."

Goldstein writes that his own life fits with exactly the sort of usage our two services provide. "I use my phone quite tactically, enjoying some streaming music here and there, navigating on Google maps when I need to and checking my email and our real-time website analytics way too often. But I am generally between Internet at home and Internet at the office. I am very willing to do smart little things to keep my cellphone usage down," says Goldstein. "At home, on the other hand, I want to swim in a sea of Sonos, Rdio, Netflix, Skype, iTunes, Dropbox, ESPN3 and other glorious services." Goldstein concludes that the one thing Ting Mobile and Ting Fiber have in common is that they are both solving a problem and are not aiming to please everyone. "Of course, I am also confident that any service we offer at any price brings with it our unique ethic and our unique commitment to fairness, honesty and customer satisfaction. We are desperate to make people happy, which will always be our greatest point of difference."[271]

[edit] August 25, 2015: Three Tucows Insiders Sell Shares

Marketbeat reported on August 25, 2015 that Tucows Director Erez Gissin sold 18,750 shares on August 25, 2015 Ar $22.29 for a total value of $417,937.[272] Insider Trading Report reported on August 21, 2015 that Elliot Noss, Chief Executive Officer of Tucows sold 50,000 shares on August 20, 2015 for a total value of $1,247,765.00.[273] Insider Trading Report reported on August 20, 2015 that Tucows Director Joichi Ito sold 6,250 shares on Aug 19, 2015 at $25.52 per share for a total value of $159,533.75.[274]

[edit] August 18, 2015: Sprint to Phase Out Two-Year Contracts

CNN reported on August 18, 2015 that Sprint has announced that it will phase out two-year contracts for its customers by the end of the year joining Verizon who abandoned its contract program this week, and T-Mobile who stopped more than two years ago. Sprint customers will either have to pay full price for their smartphones upfront, pay off the phone over the course of two years, or lease their phone from Sprint. The new no-contract plans lets customers comparison-shop more easily as they're no longer locked into a long-term deal.[275]

Abraham Seidmann says at Motley Fool that forcing people to pay for phones upfront could have unintended consequences for the carriers. "In the long run, we do wonder though, since users will have to pay for their phone outright, will providers (Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon) be forced to stop locking their phones so users can move them to other carriers," says Seidmann. "It will be the next logical step after providing for phone numbers portability about 15 years ago." According to Seidmann, no contracts and unlocked phones would be good for consumers, but it creates extreme volatility for the carriers because customers would be able to switch on a whim between providers that their phone is compatible with and there would be nothing stopping them from jumping from deal to deal. Seidmann says the rise of MVNOs is forcing lower monthly prices on an industry that has been able to avoid that for so long. As that is happening consumers are becoming used to the idea that those lower recurring fees come with a catch -- you must pay for your phone upfront.[276]

[edit] August 17, 2015: Ting Internet Is Now Available in Westminster, MD

Jesse Simms writes on the Ting Blog that Ting's gigabit fiber is now officially available in Westminster MD. According to Simms, Ting has been busy since the fiber lighting ceremony on June 26, 2015 installing all the necessary equipment to light up the whole network and bring fast fiber Internet all across town. "If you live in the City of Westminster and are looking to get connected, simply run your address at the top of the Ting Westminster page," writes Simms. "If we haven’t yet made it to your home or business, don’t worry, we’re coming. Just hit the “Sign up for updates” button and we’ll keep you in the loop."[277]

[edit] August 11, 2015: Short Interest in Tucows up 11% in Last Two Weeks

Nasdaq reported on August 11, 2015 that short interest in Tucows increased from 459,756 shares on July 15, 2015 to 510,134 shares on July 31, 2015, and increase of 11%.[278]

See also: *Nasdaq: Short Interest in Tucows

Settlement Date Short Interest Avg Daily Share Volume Days To Cover
7/31/2015 510,134 142,961 3.568344
7/15/2015 459,756 132,057 3.481497
6/30/2015 283,367 144,477 1.961329
6/15/2015 218,845 157,296 1.391294
5/29/2015 123,846 180,110 1.000000
5/15/2015 17,266 64,995 1.000000
4/30/2015 17,900 24,705 1.000000

[edit] August 6, 2015: Tucows Announces Strong Growth in Second Quarter

Chart 1: Stock Price Chart for TCX from January 1, 2012 through August 6, 2015. In February, 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting's launch coincided with a rise in Tucows (TCX) stock price. Tucows' stock price has risen 676% since January 1, 2012. The S&P 500 has risen 62% over the same period. (Click on chart to expand.)
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

See also:

[edit] Net Revenue Increased 21% YOY

Tucows announced on August 6, 2015 that net revenue for the second quarter of 2015 increased 21% to $42.9 million from $35.6 million for the second quarter of 2014. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter of 2015 increased 64% to $5.4 million from $3.3 million for the second quarter of 2014.[279]

[edit] Net Profit Increased 77% YOY

Tucows announced on August 6, 2015 that net income for the second quarter of 2015 increased to $2.3 million, or $0.21 per share, compared with $1.3 million, or $0.12 per share, for the second quarter of 2014.[280]

[edit] Adjusted EBITDA Increased 64% YOY

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "adjusted EBITDA of Q2 increasing 64% year-over-year to 5.4 million bringing our total for the year-to-date to 12.3 million."[281]

[edit] Tucows Increases Guidance for Adjusted EBITDA from $20 million to $25 million

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that Tucows "had a strong first half and now feel it appropriate to increase guidance for 2015 from $20 million of EBITDA to $25 million of EBITDA. This is a strong performance and one that bodes well for the future. In many ways their current performance reminds of 2012 - 2013 when we were investing in Ting Mobile. We were able to continue to grow the business well investing in and launching a completely new revenue stream in a way that made the investment seem invisible and painless to investors."[282]

[edit] Tucows Generated $2.2 million in Cash Flow

Tucows announced on August 6, 2015 that cash and cash equivalents at the end of the second quarter of 2015 were $15.3 million, up from $8.3 million at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014 and $14.2 million at the end of the second quarter of 2014. During the second quarter of 2015, Tucows generated cash flow from operating activities of $2.2 million.[283]

[edit] Tucows Invested $1.1 million, Primarily in Ting Fiber

Tucows announced on August 6, 2015 that the company invested $1.1 million to acquire additional property and equipment, primarily investing $0.8 million in expanding Ting Internet’s fiber footprint.[284]

[edit] Tucows Repurchased 25,000 Shares in Q2

Tucows announced on August 6, 2015 that the Company used $0.5 million in cash to repurchase 25,413 shares of its common stock under its ongoing share buyback program.[285]

[edit] August 6, 2015: Ting Mobile Continues to Grow

[edit] Ting Mobile Added 10,000 Accounts and 16,000 Devices in the 2nd Quarter

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "Ting Mobile saw continued growth in Q2 and a bit of rebound, averaging over 10,000 accounts and 15,000 devices bring our total at the end of the quarter to more than 113,000 accounts and a 178,000 devices" compared to 9,000 additional accounts in Q1.[286]

[edit] Ting's Churn Rate is 2.5%, Average Monthly Customer Spend is $35, Gross Margins Are at 50%, and Acquisition Costs are Under $100 Per Customer

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "the key metrics of the Ting Mobile business remained consistent." According to Noss, churn is about 2.5% of Ting's base each month, customers spend about $35 a month, gross margins are around 50% and cost per acquisition continue at under a $100.[287]

[edit] Ting Mobile is Still Recovering from the Sprint FED Issues

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "we’re still not at levels that we are satisfied with" after the issues with the Sprint FED in the first quarter. "Coming into the second half of this year, we have a great opportunity with Ting Mobile to get additional returns on incremental operational improvement. We have clear consistent requirements and processes now for Sprint devices to come to the service. It is more complicated than it was, [but] at least it is settled. We have a choice of two nationwide networks and we can now accept a far greater of a percentage of owned devices."

"We have a much better handle on the drivers of customer support interactions with the redesign of the business processes and we have a staffing plan to keep us out in front of it. Perhaps most importantly we now have a greater abundance of prospects to convert. In our first three years just about any improvement we made to our offering or our conversion produced relatively small returns while very few people knew who we were."

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak of Cormark Securities Noss added that "hold times are too long [so] the customer service experience is not what we want it to be and we think that impacts conversion and referrals. So we think that’s still a drag and that’s primarily because the changes that we have had to make to both the changes in the Sprint supply chain and new policies with the introduction of GSM have changed our customer service ratios. We had to internalize a lot more of the supply chain and it's just changed the customer service ratios and the amount of customer service we have to put into conversion."[288]

[edit] Ting Mobile Has Turned Marketing Back on

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that in Q1 Ting Mobile's customer support team was struggling to keep up with call volume and shut down all marketing and promotional activities until Tucows could get back to the level of service that has defined and propelled the Ting brand. However Noss added that Ting Mobile has now caught up sufficiently to the increased demand brought up by changes in Sprint and that by the end of May "we started marketing the service again and by the beginning of June we’re at full throttle."

"With the Consumer Reports rating in December, the interest in our fiber initiative over the past couple of months, and a growing customer base spreading the word to their friends every day, we appear to have muscled our way into millions of daily discussions of cell phone providers. We see it in our website traffic and our support interactions both of which reached all-time highs in Q2. What that means to us is that we can get significant returns on improvements to our user experience, before, during and after activation. We have a long backlog of screws to be tightened on our website, in our programs that generate leads, and in our sales and support processes and we see those as ways to turn more of this demand into customers."[289]

[edit] Ting Mobile Expects to Add 10,000 New Customers in the 3rd Quarter and Quarters Ahead

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "June was our second largest month of gross adds ever following this past December, it brought us back over the 10,000 net add benchmark that we had slipped below briefly with the events of Q1 and hope to stay above in quarters' ahead."

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak of Cormark Securities Noss added that "right now Q3 probably looks similar to in the range of Q2. Q4 is always a funny one because it's got the Christmas season in it. We’re still dealing with changes in the way we have had to do business that have caused the customer service performance to not be what it was. So yes there was a chunk of Q2 where we weren't marketing and yes we have started to turn it back on but if you gave me a choice between no marketing and customer service where we want it to be or full marketing and customer service performing at a mediocre level I will take the former over the latter. Ting is very, very driven by the customer experience and so we’re pretty heads down around that and so until we see that come clean, we’re not trying to push too hard."[290]

[edit] GSM Is Now a Solid Part of Business But Ting Mobile Does Not Plan to Break Out Sprint versus GSM Service

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that Tucows is signing up a lot of people on the GSM side, but "we’re making a conscious decision not to provide break outs between the two services but I'm comfortable saying that GSM is a lot of what people thinking about."

"GSM is now just a solid part of the business. If you go through our purchase path you will see that we really let the choice of the phone that you have in your hand drive which network you’re using for that phone. Over time we may start to see geography figure into some of that as our customers help get smarter in particular markets." Noss added that Tucows is not yet seeing a willingness from either of our partners to let Ting Mobile do some of the things that Google is doing but "we will keep pushing."[291]

[edit] August 6, 2015: Ting Fiber is Growing

[edit] Ting Fiber Launched in Charlottesville and Costs Are in Line With Assumptions

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that Ting Fiber's costs so far seem to be in-line with assumptions and "we’re increasingly confident that we can scale this service."

"Ting Internet launched in Q2 in Charlottesville, Virginia. We lit up our first beta gigabit customers in May allowing customers to start signing themselves in early June and they are operating at or near capacity ever since. Meanwhile we’re rapidly building up fiber network to cover the entire city and have already reached over 3000 serviceable addresses. In our other launch market Westminster, Maryland where the city is building the network and playing the dual roles of network operator and service provider, we co-hosted a fiber lighting ceremony in late June and expect to start signing up customers in mid-August. We continue to receive praise for our unique public private partnerships there, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors or NATOA recently recognized Westminster and Ting as innovative partnership of the year as part of their 2015 community broadband awards. At this stage our focus is on optimizing our processes from network build-out in Charlottesville to scheduling and reforming a high volume of customer installs to tracking and managing customers actual internet usage. We’re also identifying opportunities to improve the user experience and minimize support. All of that is going well."[292]

[edit] The Right Way to Look at Ting Fiber is That They Are Nice Small Profitable Businesses

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that the right way to look at Ting Fiber in Charlotesville and Westminster is they are nice profitable small businesses, each in and of themselves. "So if we can pull 1 million, 2 million, 3 million, 4 million in EBITDA a year out of the market we think that’s fantastic and it's fantastic relative to the investments, relative to the effort." The financial models for these businesses look good. The small population markets in Charlottesville and Westminster are in the sweet spot of our population size and each of those markets will be profitable on their own.[293]

[edit] Tucows Is Experimenting with Ting Fiber and is Comfortable Looking at Smaller Markets

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that Ting Fiber is "very comfortable looking at smaller markets than Google is." According to Noss, Tucows thinks there are potentially some very interesting opportunities in smaller towns and cities and is testing some core assumptions and experimenting. One of the things Ting Giber wants to do is experiment with how small we can feasibly operate. "If we can take on small bites of profitability that’s just a fantastic opportunity both from a competitive standpoint and from a sort of number of opportunity standpoint."

"One of the things that fundamentally separates us from Google is that we are willing to work with cities in a number of different ways, across a different models and cities like that. They like to be able to be able to consider a public private partnership but I can tell you that the cities that have gotten excited for Google and we have subsequently spoken to they have been well primed and the discussions tend to be a little bit smoother."[294]

[edit] Tucows Wants to Grow Ting Fiber in a Measured Way While Limiting Downside Risk

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that by the end of 2016 Ting Fiber could be in up to 7 to 8 fiber markets. According to Noss, Ting Fiber's limiting factor is not finding cities that want to work with us and have us come and build fiber or build fiber themselves and partner with us but our limiting factor is that we want to continue to crawl, walk, and run as we learn how to run this business profitably. "This business is a complicated business so that feels like the right size of ramp and in addition the right amount of capital to deploy as we’re starting to put some bones on what 2016 might look like. We don’t want to go from a current level of capital deployment and just all of a sudden start spending like crazy. We want to do this in a measured way and one of the things we’re very attentive to is downside risk." According to Noss that's something that’s very important to Tucows "because as you know we pride ourselves around capital allocation and return on equity."[295]

[edit] August 6, 2015: Domain Business is Steady and In-Line With Expectations

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that the domain services side of the business performance was in-line with expectations solidly in Q2 especially outside of the declining expiring stream business with particularly promising results in email[296]

[edit] Hover Shows Strong Growth

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that Hover continues to show "strong growth with increases in both revenue and gross margin of over 18% year-over-year and growth from the customer base of 14%. We launched an exciting new initiative in Q2 called Hover Connect that will enhance the customer experience and has the potential to ultimately drive more customer acquisitions through partnerships. Hover Connect allows our users to easily connect their Hover domains to their favorite web services without DNS modifications, the users simply choose it's which site building service he is using or she is using from a menu of popular choices of Hover and Hover automatically points the domain to the appropriate website. It highlights one of Hover's greatest competitive advantages that we do not attempt to lock users into our own site building or hosting service. It also simplifies the trickiest aspect of the domain name experience, the link to the webhost. In addition to improving the Hover experience we’re hopeful this feature will be appealing to the site building services as they consistently identify connecting with domain registration as perhaps their greatest pain point."[297]

[edit] OpenSRS Shows Flat Growth

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that "registration on OpenSRS were up 2% driven by an outstanding renewal rate of 79%, once again our highest renewal rate outdoor [ph]. Perhaps even more impressive that included a 70% of new gTLDs with a large percentage in their first year of renewal. We added 52 more gTLDs in Q2 and by the end of the quarter 2100 resellers had registered at least one new gTLD up from 1900 at the end of Q1 and in addition to the promise of incremental revenue from these resellers this adoption across more services ultimately fosters key relationships and secures the revenue on our core gTLDs. OpenSRS continue to find growth in all corners of the world in Q2, new registrations from outside North America and Western Europe were up 16% year-over-year and represented a new high of 25% of all new registrations in the quarter."[298]

[edit] Tucows Has an Opportunity for Growth in email Services

Elliot Noss reported in the second quarter earnings report conference call that there is "some growth coming back to our email business primarily the result of Google no longer supplying Gmail to ISPs. Long time investors will remember that years ago we lost big pieces of business to Google as they got into this market. They have now effectively exited."[299]

[edit] July 31, 2015: Ting Fiber Looking at Five or Six New Markets for 2016

Triangle Business Journals reported on July 31, 2015 that Ting Fiber plans to expand its high-speed fiber Internet as Elliot Noss hinted in an interview that North Carolina's Research Triangle could be under consideration for Ting expansion. “I think the safest thing to say is that we are interested, we are in the process of working through our 2016 pipeline,” says Noss. “We’re looking at where we’re going to bring fiber in 2016. We are probably looking at going forward with five or six markets, and North Carolina is one of the leaders in the country in fiber to the home. I think that’s been true since Wilson in the early days, and now Google coming to a couple of markets and AT&T is responding, so there’s certainly a lot happening." Ting is looking to move on its fiber expansion quickly, and a decision on the pipeline for 2016 should happen “in the next few months,” says Noss.

“The first thing we look for when we’re engaging with a city or town is an understanding that this is something they deeply want to do,” says Noss. “We don’t take meetings with cities who want to hear about why they should have fiber or gigabit connectivity.” “North Carolina might be the first state in the union that has moved from where cities and towns are looking at fiber as a way to differentiate and to lead,” adds Noss. “(North Carolina) is seeing it almost defensively: We need it for our survival because we’re surrounded by it.”[300]

[edit] July 15, 2015: Short Interest in Tucows Doubles in Last Thirty Days

Nasdaq reported on July 15, 2015 that short interest in Tucows doubled from 218,845 shares on June 15, 2015 to 459,756 shares on July 15, 2015.[301]

See also: *Nasdaq: Short Interest in Tucows

Settlement Date Short Interest Average Daily Volume Days to Cover
07/15/15 459,756 132,057 3.48
06/30/15 283,367 144,477 1.96
06/15/15 218,845 157,296 1.39
05/29/15 123,846 180,110 1.00
05/15/15 17,266 64,995 1.00
04/30/15 17,900 24,705 1.00
04/15/15 22,660 23,076 1.00
03/31/15 22,813 28,070 1.00
03/13/15 21,644 31,106 1.00
02/27/15 5,555 24,936 1.00
02/13/15 8,584 41,265 1.00
01/30/15 8,777 34,167 1.00
01/15/15 14,421 34,980 1.00
12/31/14 8,903 47,205 1.00
12/15/14 7,602 23,796 1.00
11/28/14 5,877 45,592 1.00
11/14/14 9,055 24,857 1.00
10/31/14 17,927 20,120 1.00
10/15/14 32,537 28,828 1.13
09/30/14 41,433 29,234 1.42
09/15/14 31,630 20,791 1.52
08/29/14 35,647 16,929 2.11

[edit] July 23, 2015: Tucows is Hiring in Toronto

YongeStreet reported on July 23, 2015 that Tucows is adding developers to its team. "According to Tucows' job posting, the majority of the position involves the design and development of backend applications. Given that, knowledge of coding languages like PHP, Perl and Python is considered an asset. Check out the company's posting on the Ladies Learning Code job board for more information. The company is also hiring a senior user experience designer."[302]

[edit] June 27, 2015: Short Interest Increases on Tucows Stock

The Daily rover reported on June 27, 2015 that short interest in Tucows stock (TCX) on June 15, 2015 is at 218,845 shares, 2.4% of floated shares. This is an increase of 94,999 shares from the short interest on May 29, 2015. With a average daily trading of 157,296 shares, the days to cover are between 1 and 2.[303] According to Investopedia, short interest provides one measure of whether there is weaknesses in a stock price "that the market may not have discounted yet or a company that is simply overvalued."[304] "Short interest gives you a sense of how pessimistic, or "bearish," the market is toward a particular stock's price. Investors who think the price of a stock is going to fall can bet money on their belief, and short interest tells you the extent to which they have done so."[305]

See also: *Nasdaq: Short Interest in Tucows

[edit] June 15, 2015: Ting Fiber Network Now Available to Thousands of Charlottesville Homes

Tucows announced on June 15, 2015 that starting last week thousands of Charlottesville, Virginia residents signed up for Gigabit Internet service putting Charlottesville on par with other pioneering US cities with Gigabit Internet service like Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lafayette, Louisiana, along with world-leading cities like Seoul, Stockholm and Tokyo. According to Tucows gigabit service creates a huge competitive advantage for Charlottesville businesses allowing every member of a Charlottesville household to be streaming, gaming, video conferencing and browsing at the same timeand facilitating healthcare and fosters education. Ting's network now reaches about 3,000 homes and businesses, with a plan to cover the neighborhoods of North Downtown, Martha Jefferson, Locust Grove and Belmont in 2015 and the entire City in 2016. The service is available at ting.com/internet for $89/month. "I estimate that fewer than 50 of the nearly 20,000 towns and cities in the country currently have an affordable gig available to a reasonable amount of residents," says Christopher Mitchell, Community Broadband Networks Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“I am thrilled with how the network and the service are coming along and delighted for the people of Charlottesville, but I am not at all pleased with the timing of this press release,” grumbled Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows and Ting. “AT&T and Comcast have managed to get press releases out years before their Gigabit services have come to market. Ours comes over a week after launch. We clearly need to pick it up a notch.”[306]

[edit] May 29, 2015: Tucows Breaks the MicroCap Barrier

According to Tucows 10-K as of March 6, 2015 the number of shares outstanding of Tucows common stock was 11,081,390. Using this number and the closing prices for TCX, Tucows Market Cap exceeded $300 Million for the first time on May 29, 2015.

Date Closing Price Shares Outstanding Market Cap
May 26, 2015 25.42 11,081,390 281,688,934
May 27, 2015 26.37 11,081,390 292,216,254
May 28, 2015 26.75 11,081,390 296,427,183
May 29, 2015 27.26 11,081,390 302,078,691
June 1, 2015 27.68 11,081,390 306,732,875

The term microcap stock (also micro-cap) refers to the stock of public companies in the United States which have a market capitalization of roughly $50 million to $300 million.[307]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Tucows Announces First Quarter Financial Results

On May 7, 2015 Tucows reported strong financial results for the first quarter of 2015. “Continuing our momentum of last year, the first quarter was an excellent start to 2015,” said Elliot Noss, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tucows Inc. “With each quarter, the growth in Ting Mobile is having a greater impact on our financial results as we benefit from the operating leverage in our business. That impact is evident in the continued expansion of our gross margin percentage, which grew to 28%² from 24%² for the same quarter last year, while Adjusted EBITDA more than doubled to $6.9 million positioning us to come in comfortably above our previous guidance of $20 million for the full year. We look forward to continued growth in Ting Mobile alongside solid performance from our domains business as we ramp towards the launch of Ting Internet, our fiber-to-the-home initiative, later this year.”[308]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Tucows Announces Growth in Ting Mobile

[edit] Ting Mobile is Becoming the Engine for Growth at Tucows

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that it is clear that "Ting Mobile is providing the financial leverage we had hoped and expected. The additional cash generation combined with the consistent contribution of the Domains business, should make for continued strong results."

"With each quarter, the growth in the Ting Mobile business is having a greater impact on our financial results as we benefit from the operating leverage in the business as a whole."[309]

[edit] Ting's Average Monthly Customer Spend is $35, Gross Margins Are at 50%, and Acquisition Costs are Under $100 Per Customer

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "the financial results are as healthy as ever, with customers spending about $35 a month, gross margins at around 50% and cost per customer acquisition under $100."[310]

[edit] Ting's Churn Rate is Just Above 2%

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Ting's churn rate "has dropped to just above 2%, our lowest level since tracking and reporting that metric."

"Most importantly, our customers have stuck by us through a difficult time. Our forums and social media are filled with appreciation for our effort and honesty in addressing the issues, and our customer satisfaction surveys reinforce that approval."[311]

Note: This is a big improvement over previous quarters where the churn rate has been reported as 2.5%.

[edit] Ting Added 9,000 Customers and 16,000 Devices in the First Quarter

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "Ting Mobile added over 9,000 accounts and almost 16,000 devices in Q1, bringing us to 103,000 active accounts and 163,000 active devices."[312]

[edit] Growth in Number of Customers Was Disappointing As the Result of a One Time Event

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "while that represents an impressive 10% growth in our base, it is disappointing, compared to the 10,000 to 12,000 accounts and 16,000 to 18,000 devices, we've added over each of the last several quarters. The good news that it's the result of a single lamentable but addressable event. On February 15th, Sprint changed the criteria for devices that are eligible to activate with Ting Mobile and other Sprint MVNO's. The intent was to deny devices that are tied to an obligation to Sprint. While we were told that the change was coming, neither we nor our customers were given visibility to which devices or how many devices would be rejected until the moment the change went live. When it did, an alarming 70% of devices that people were trying to activate on Ting Mobile were rejected, including many devices that were perfectly eligible by all stated criteria. We worked hard with sprint over the next several weeks to identify errors in the process and correct them, leading to the number of rejections falling to 30%. There are still a couple of outstanding issues and we continue to work with sprint to address them."[313]

[edit] Ting Moved Quickly to Address the Problem

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Tucows "quickly moved to procure both temporary and permanent to address the volume. We quietly launched our GSM service on March 1st to give customers another option to activate devices. Meanwhile, we shut down all marketing and promotional activities until we could give every prospect and customer that reaches out to us the outstanding level of services that has defined the Ting brand as this continues to be how we expect to win long term, both in mobile and fixed internet."

"We had to bring people in to step up around a bit of a crisis and there is both with what we went through with some of the financial eligibility stuff and the launch of GSM, there's been a bit of a change in the sort of in the level of support that's needed and nothing there that long term fusses us, in terms of the cost model. In fact, I'd say, at a sort of all-in costs perspective, I was quite pleased at how we've been able to scale both from an operational perspective and from a cost perspective and that's not to say this wasn't a real bump. There's no question that it was. We've put our customer satisfaction it's the most important thing in the building. We were unhappy with what went on, but I really was quite pleased with the way we were able to come through."[314]

[edit] Ting is Getting Back to Acceptable Service Levels and Conversion Rates

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Tucows is "just getting back to those acceptable service levels and back to acceptable conversion rates on our activation process and we are cautiously just starting to trumpet the Ting Mobile service again, and there was plenty to trumpet about our service and our business. Our GSM offering has made it more appealing, affordable and convenient than ever to give Ting Mobile a try. Customers are popping Ting GSM SIM cards into unlocked iPhone 6s, new mid-range Android devices, like the OnePlus One and every imaginable used market device that they already had or bought in the secondary market. Our net device ads per account in Q1 were the highest we've ever had, as our efforts to core families and businesses appear to be bearing fruit, and our GSM offering makes it easier than ever to bring multiple devices or add more."[315]

[edit] Ting Has Not Yet Turned Marketing Back On and the Marketing Team is Chomping at the Bit

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Ting has not yet turned back on marketing. "We hope that as we turn marketing back on, we'll start to see some pick up there. We don't know what the lag is going to be like and that's one of the things that'll be interesting to learn through this process and we're also and have been working on improving the process around GSM. So, we certainly felt that when we launched it, it was a little sub-optimal. We've been refining it and we think we'll see some pickups going forward, but all of that, so sort of the impact of re-launching the marketing, the impact of reworking around GSM, it'll all be things I'll be able to talk about in a lot more detail next quarter."

"I've got a marketing team that's kind of chomping at the bit right now and, as you can imagine, they've had both refinements on it with the good thing marketing and new ideas to play around with. So, I mean, I'm always encouraging them to conduct intelligent experiments and I don't mind them having those experiments cost money."

"There's some portion of the marketing effort that I would describe as steady state. It's the podcast sponsorships, the YouTube sponsorships, the referral fees, the coupon codes. The stuff we generally do from Facebook, AdWords et cetera and then you're going to have other things we're trying. Now, you can have two very different types of efforts. We could be experimenting with television and then contrast that with experimenting with some channel efforts, one is very cash intensive, the other costs almost nothing. So, they'll have very different profiles. So, it's almost going to depend more on the nature of the experimentation in that quarter."[316]

[edit] Ting Is Not Seeing More Aggressive Pricing from Competitors

In answer to a question from Hubert Mak of Cormark Securities, Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Ting is not seeing more agressive pricing from competitors and that the launch of Google's MVNO has actually brought awareness to Ting. "In the quarter, we haven't seen anything new. So, it's as it was. I mean, my reset on that, which I think, I'd spoken some length about last quarter is it's a lot more competitive now than it was a year or two years ago, but we saw nothing change in the quarter, and I'd include in that, is the launch of Google which actually brought some awareness to us and we think it's a very interesting for a couple of reasons primarily around what they've done with multi-home SIMs and global roaming, we think those are just sort of positive impacts on the industry as a whole and we think that, it's a creative offering, but not one that we're much worried about competitively."[317]

[edit] Ting Is Not Worried About Google

In answer to a question from Alex Rackwitz of Samphire about what percentage of Ting customers have Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 phones, Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "at its peak, the Nexus 5, was kind of 15%, 17% of our adds. The Nexus 6 is a lot more expensive of a phone. So, we're seeing Nexus 6 way below that. And that was in a run rate basis."

"By the way, if you're looking at sort of -- if you're worried about Google -- Nexus 5 does not currently work with Google. So, I know there's some talk that they could turn it on for the 5, knowing what I think they want to accomplish strategically, I don't know that they'll do that, but in any event, combined, boy those will comfortably be sub-10%. Michael Goldstein who runs acquisition is sitting here. He was guessing 8, I would probably guess, but it's really that more 5%, 6% and that's 5 and 6 combined with the majority of that being 5."[318]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Ting Internet Is Just Getting Started

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "Ting Internet now enters the stage where there is a lot to do and not a lot to report. In Westminster, Maryland the town is building out the fiber network, starting with four core neighbourhoods. In Charlottesville, Virginia where we acquired local internet service provider, Blue Ridge InternetWorks, we have integrated those people into the broader company and are now working together to leverage, upgrade and expand the fiber network there."

"At the same time, we've been developing the Ting Internet service that will provide access to these networks, including an eligibility check to determine whether an address is serviceable and processes for sign-up, installation, activation and monthly billing. Both the product and customer support will be deeply integrated with our mobile service, leveraging the same interfaces, processes and people."

"You're not going to see the Ting Internet business get to even a portfolio level of revenue this year. We're going to keep you apprised because we think obviously long term strategically very important business. So, we want to be thoughtful about the operating metrics we put out and allow you to follow along and home as we always like to do, but in terms of meaningful for this year, I wouldn't think twice about it."[319]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Domain Services Continues to Perform Well

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that domain services continues to perform well. "On OpenSRS, domain transactions were flat year-over-year, yet our Domain gross margin grew by over 6%. In fact, our gross margin for Domain here in Q1 was the highest it's been in seven years. The results of a continual shift in mix towards higher margin products including country code TLDs and new generic TLDs. The contribution of this business after expenses is up even more year-over-year, as we continue to be more efficient and effective. We also continue to be more focussed on servicing the unique need for webhosting companies and ISPs all over the world than any of our competition. We added another 32 new gTLDs to our offering in Q1. More than 1,900 resellers have registered at least one new gTLD by the end of the quarter, up from 1,700 at the end of 2014."

"OpenSRS also produced a remarkable renewal rate of 77% in Q1, our highest renewal rate ever. That is well above the 73.5% that Verisign has predicted for all of.Com/.Net in Q1. We hope to get a chance to compare to that of GoDaddy when they report their Q1 earnings next week. This speaks to the inherent quality of our resellers end users. The biggest retail services tend to have a larger segment of customers that never use the domains they register and thus let them go upon expiration. Our domains are more consistently attached to hosting and other Internet services. They're powering businesses and organizations that are built to last."[320]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Tucows Repurchased 408,000 shares in Q1

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that Tucows repurchased a total of just over 408,000 shares for a total spend of $7.7 million. "At the time of our last call in mid-February we announced the renewal of our open market stock buyback programs, under which we have the ability to repurchase up to 20 million of our common shares until February 15th of next year. As Mike had noted, we were quite active with the program during the first quarter, repurchasing 214,089 shares for a total of $4.1 million. This is in addition to the approximately 194,000 shares we repurchased under the modified Dutch tender that closed in early January for just under $3.6 million."[321]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Tucows Maintains Guidance of $20 Million in Adjusted EBITDA for 2015

Elliot Noss reported in the first quarter earnings report conference call that "we said last quarter that we expected adjusted EBITDA for this year to be in the $20 million. With the first quarter now in the books, it does look like we will be comfortably above that number."

"I wanted to take a moment to provide some clarity around our adjusted EBITDA metric. We have long relationships with a majority of our shareholders and it's been some time since we've provided a definition of adjusted EBITDA. As some of those shareholders have to varying degrees taken some of the profits off the table, we've seen new shareholders come into the stock, who've asked about how this metric is calculated. We have thus included a reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to net income in the financial statements attached to our news release this quarter. We use this metric because we believe, adjusting for certain non-cash and other items enhances understanding of the performance of the business. The primary measure that we use for planning and budgeting purposes, incentive compensation and to monitor and evaluate our financial and operating results. It's the metric we use when we think about ourselves as owners of the business."[322]

[edit] April 23, 2015: Google MVNO Announcement Coincides with Highest Traffic in Months to Ting Site

Michael Goldstein wrote on the Ting Blog on April 23, 2015 that Google's announcement of a new mobile service coincided with the most traffic Ting has had in months to their site. Every web site in the world covered the Google news but "Ting customers commented under half those stories that “Ting did (this or that) first” or “I’m only spending $23 a month” or “The best part about Ting is their customer service," writes Goldstein. "So the opportunity for us just mathematically dwarfs the threat."

Goldstein says that Google's entry into the MVNO space with Sprint and T-Mobile as partners will also benefit Ting because Google will push "our mutual carrier partners to develop all sorts of wholesale capabilities that we will now swoop in and leverage." "In many ways, Google (with their buying clout) offers a great hint of benefits that more providers and end users should soon enjoy. International roaming rates should keep getting lower for all of us. VoIP functions and features (originating with the carriers) should keep getting better."

According to Goldstein, Google has offered a great vision for network agnosticism but you have to buy a $649 phone to use the service while Ting might be the only provider that is absolutely indifferent between networks, operating systems, devices and activities that you perform on your device. "Ting offers complete unimpeded choice. For Ting customers, that often means activating a three-year old smartphone that they bought off their brother-in-law for a song. It also means that when we eventually launch an integrated VoIP solution (with what we need at the carrier level), it will be one that Ting customers can use on absolutely any phone they want. That’s simply our vision and we’re sticking to it."[323]

[edit] April 8, 2015: Things Are Getting Back to Normal at Ting After Problems with Sprint's FED

Andrew Moore-Crispin wrote on the Ting Blog that after the problems with Sprint’s financial eligibility date (FED) check that was announced on February 15, 2015, the situation at Ting is coming under control and customer service at Ting is starting to get back to normal.
Sprint’s financial eligibility date (FED) check put a serious crimp in the bring your own device to Ting program and pushed a lot of people to call us to find out what was going on. We pushed the Ting on a GSM network beta release up a little in order to offer some different options. The end result was us breaking our promise of no hold customer service. Marketing went into stealth mode while we sorted things out. We stopped most of the things we do to try to get new customers and instead jumped into the ticket and email queue to lend a hand there. The ship has been righted and it’s just about anchors aweigh. In keeping with the nautical theme, it will soon be steady as she goes.[324]

[edit] Financial Eligibility Date Check

"When FED first hit, around 70% of devices that tried to come to Ting were being blocked by Sprint and only 30% made it past the gatekeeper. FED was casting too wide a net and catching devices it shouldn’t. Nexus and iPhone devices purchased directly from Google or Apple without any kind of carrier subsidy, for example," writes Moore-Crispin. "We’ve been working closely with Sprint to narrow FED’s focus and now, the numbers are reversed. 70% of devices that people attempt to activate on Ting pass FED check and 30% fail."[325]

[edit] Ting on a GSM Network

"Ting on a GSM network is ready for prime-time," writes Moore-Crispin. "The beta label will be pulled off Ting on a GSM network soon. Ting on a GSM network is now ready for primetime."[326]

[edit] Customer Service

"We broke our promise of no hold customer service. If you called us and didn’t get a real person on the line right away, we’re sorry. We take our customer service promises very seriously. We are on the road to recovery," writes Moore-Crispin. "Call volumes spiked to a level higher than we predicted in even our most dire of predictions as a result. Add to that the launch of Ting on a GSM network into open beta (in large part, an attempt to stop people getting rejected by FED from being left in the lurch) and the customer experience team was overrun."[327]

[edit] Ting Plans to Soon Begin to Actively Recruit New Users

"We slowed down to fix the issues that lead to this broken promise and to mitigate the risk of it happening again. We stopped any initiatives to get new people in the door until we’re sure we’re meeting this promise once more," writes Moore-Crispin. "Very soon, we’ll be in a position to start turning the tap back on full blast, inviting and welcoming new people to Ting. We’re looking forward to looking forward."[328]

[edit] March 11, 2015: Tucows Files 10-K for FY2014

See also: * Tucows 10-K Filing for FY2014 March 11, 2015

[edit] Tucows Paid $3.6 Million for Their 70% Interest in BRI

"On February 24, 2015, Ting Fiber, Inc., one of our wholly owned subsidiaries, acquired a controlling ownership interest in the newly formed Ting Virginia, LLC and its acquired subsidiaries, Blue Ridge Websoft, LLC (doing business as Blue Ridge InternetWorks), Fiber Roads, LLC and Navigator Network Services, LLC (the BRI Group) for a consideration of approximately $3.6 million. Ting Virginia, LLC is an independent Internet service provider in Charlottesville, Virginia, doing business primarily as Blue Ridge InternetWorks. The BRI Group provides high speed internet access, Internet hosting and network consulting services to over 3,000 customers in central Virginia. We will satisfy the purchase price through an advance under our 2012 DLR Loan facility."

"In January 2015, we borrowed $3.5 million under our Amended Credit Facility in order to fund the acquisition of a controlling ownership in Ting Virginia, LLC. This borrowing is subject to the terms and conditions described in note 8 to the Consolidated Financial Statements."[329]

[edit] Tucows Has Repurchased 108,605 Shares Since February 16, 2015 Buyback Program Was Announced

"On February 11, 2015, we announced that our Board of Directors had approved a stock buyback program to repurchase up to $20 million of our common stock in the open market and privately negotiated transactions. Purchases will be made exclusively through the facilities of the NASDAQ Capital Market. The stock buyback program commenced on February 16, 2015 and will terminate on or before February 15, 2016. As of March 6, 2015, we have spent a total of $2.0 million to repurchase 108,605 shares under this stock buyback program, and therefore, the remaining repurchase authorization is $18.0 million. All shares purchased by us under the stock buyback program will be retired and returned to treasury."[330]

[edit] Tucows Has $26.2 Million Of Outstanding Foreign Exchange Forward Contracts Which Will Convert To CDN $29.3 Million

"As of December 31, 2014 the Company has $26.2 million of outstanding foreign exchange forward contracts which will convert to CDN $29.3 million. Of these contracts, $22.3 million met the requirements for hedge accounting. As of December 31, 2013 the Company had $26.5 million of outstanding foreign exchange forward contracts which will convert to CDN $27.8 million. Of these contracts, $20.6 million met the requirements for hedge accounting."

"We have performed a sensitivity analysis model for foreign exchange exposure over the year ended December 31, 2014. The analysis used a modeling technique that compares the U.S. dollar equivalent of all expenses incurred in Canadian dollars, at the actual exchange rate, to a hypothetical 10% adverse movement in the foreign currency exchange rates against the U.S. dollar, with all other variables held constant. Foreign currency exchange rates used were based on the market rates in effect during the year ended December 31, 2014. The sensitivity analysis indicated that a hypothetical 10% adverse movement in foreign currency exchange rates would result in a decrease in net income for the year ended December 31, 2014 of approximately $2.4 million. There can be no assurances that the above projected exchange rate decrease will materialize. Fluctuations of exchange rates are beyond our control. We will continue to monitor and assess the risk associated with these exposures and may take additional actions in the future to hedge or mitigate these risks."[331]

[edit] Beneficial Ownership of Tucows Stock by Officers and Board Members at Tucows

Tucows Officers and Directors Transaction Type Last Price Elliot Noss (CEO) Michael Cooperman (CFO) David Woroch (EVP, Sales and Support) Allen Karp (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Rawleigh Ralls (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Robin Chase (Director) Erez Gissin (Director) Joichi Ito (Director) Jeffrey Schwartz (Director) Carla Ann Goetz (EVP Human Resources) Kenneth Derrick Schafer (EVP Retail) Michael Goldstein (VP Marketing)
Shares Beneficially Owned per 10-K Filing on March 5, 2015 NA NA 764,833 325,831 173,250 69,375 513,750 4,375 50,000 13,750 60,625 21,275 25 12,913

[edit] Salary, Bonus, Stock Owned, and Stock Options of Tucows' Major Officers

Major Officers Salary Bonus Total Shares of Common Stock Owned Exercisable Stock Options Unexercisable Stock Options
Elliot Noss – President and CEO 343,589 182,754 526,343 702,146 62,687 21,563
Michael Cooperman - Chief Financial Officer 269,206 128,121 397,327 260,082 65,749 13,751
David Woroch – Vice President, Sales 224,143 134,834 358,977 110,001 63,249 13,751

[edit] March 3, 2015: Sprint's New Financial Eligibility Date (FED) is Frustrating for New Ting Users

Andrew Moore-Crispin reported on the Ting Blog that the Ting support team is overrun due to circumstances outside of their control and there are several things happening all at once that are driving call volumes higher than anyone could have anticipated. Sprint’s new “financial eligibility date” (FED) check is driving the majority of the calls. "We still don’t have all the answers yet and so our project and development teams can’t design around it. As it stands, it’s a real pain point. We know all too well how frustrating it is and we sincerely apologize," writes Moore-Crispin. "The sheer volume of calls coming in is the root cause of us not picking up the phone as quickly as we want to. Our customer service team doesn’t follow a script and instead works on the mandate of helping people find actual solutions to problems. This as compared with the customer support norm of trying to get people off the phone as quickly as possible. That’s an exacerbating factor. To be clear, though, that mandate doesn’t change, even in times of stress like this."

"For the past couple of weeks it has been all hands to the pump. The various other Ting teams are helping the support team whenever we can. We’re jumping in to answer help requests as they come in. We’re not jumping in on the call queue and getting on the phones because we’d probably end up more a hinderance than a help," concludes Moore-Crispin. "This temporary spike in calls is just that, temporary. We just need to dig out from under the pile of calls and emails before we’re back to delivering on our promise of no hold customer service. In the interim, though, we’re very sorry if you get put on hold. This isn’t something we’re about to make a habit of."[332]

[edit] February 24, 2015: Ting's GSM Offering Now in Open Beta

The Ting Blog announced on February 24, 2015 that Ting on a GSM network is now in open beta so anyone with a Ting GSM SIM card can activate it, slip it into an unlocked phone and get started with Ting. The biggest things that are missing on GSM at this point are international roaming and international long distance.[333]

[edit] February 18, 2015: New Sprint Handset Policy Tangles Up 'Bring Your Own Device' Program

Phil Goldstein reported on Fierce Wireless that some customers are experiencing difficulties in bringing their phones over to Ting and other Sprint MVNOs because of Sprint's new policy that Sprint will block your device from being reactivated until they check if a customer still owes the carrier money.[334] "The bad news is that some devices that previously would have had no trouble coming to Ting are now being blocked from making the move, basically because the owner hasn’t paid his or her final bill… most likely because they haven’t actually received that final bill," writes Andrew Moore-Crispin at Tucows. "We strongly urge our customers not to interrupt their devices’ active state for the time being. There is a chance that only by deactivating your device would you / we learn that it is considered by Sprint to be “financially ineligible,” i.e. is connected in some way to an account that owes Sprint some money. If a device is considered “financially ineligible” by Sprint, they will block any attempt to reactivate it until any outstanding balance is cleared."[335]

[edit] February 11, 2015: Tucows Announces Fourth Quarter Financial Results

“The fourth quarter was a solid finish to a strong year for Tucows,” said Elliot Noss, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tucows Inc. “The continuing growth in contribution from Ting Mobile, combined with steady performance of our Domains business, enabled us to deliver net earnings per share of $0.16 for the fourth quarter, bringing EPS for the year to a record $0.57, an increase of 43% over 2013. Importantly, we continue to realize the benefit from the operating leverage in our business as consolidated gross margin for the quarter grew to 26% from 23%, excluding the Portfolio Group, for the same period last year.”[336]

[edit] Tucows Beat EBITDA for 2014 with $15 Million

"We finished the year above the top end of our guidance of 14.5 million to 15 million in adjusted EBITDA," said Elliot Noss during the 4th quarter conference call.[337]

[edit] Tucows Expects EBITDA to rise in the Range of $20 Million for 2015

"We expect EBITDA to be in the $20 million range which is a fine outcome balancing growth in the business in short-term with creating greater opportunities for growth in the long-term," said Elliot Noss during the 4th quarter conference call.[338]

[edit] Tucow Expects Ting to Be Tucows Largest Contributor in 2015

"As we look out to 2015 we expect to see continued strong performance from Ting Mobile which will become the largest contributor to and drive the bulk of growth in adjusted EBITDA," said Elliot Noss during the 4th quarter conference call.[339]

[edit] There is Increased Price Competion in the Mobile Sector

"There is this headwind of increased price competition and frankly there is just a headwind of consistent churn on a growing base and then we have the tailwinds around the great customer experience, the strong order and performance in referral program, the scrappy marketing we do, the new opportunities that we uncover every quarter," said Elliot Noss during the 4th quarter conference call.[340]

[edit] February 11, 2015: Tucows Announces Growth in Ting

[edit] Ting has 94,000 Customers at the End of Q4 Adding 11,000 Net Customers

"We added just over 11,000 accounts and 17,000 devices in Q4, 43% of those in December," said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. "In 2014 we added 47,000 accounts and 73,000 devices, almost exactly doubling our totals to 94,000 active accounts and 147,000 active devices. Those net ads include churn that remains in the range 2% to 2.5% monthly."[341]

[edit] Customers Spend $35 a Month on Their Phone Bills, Gross Margins are 45 to 50%, Acquisition Costs Are Under $100 Per Customer, and Churn is Between 2 and 2.5%

Customers spend about $35 a month on their phone bills, gross margins are still in the range of 45% to 50%, we spend under $100 to acquire a customer, we’re now adding about 18,000 new customers on a gross basis each quarter and continue to churn between 2% and 2.5% of our base each month.[342]

[edit] With GSM over 80% of Phones Will be Able to Come to Ting Up From 10% Previously

Elliot Noss said during the fourth quarter confrence call on February 11, 2015 that offering service on a GSM network will have a significant impact on device portability and choice because up until now only about 10% of existing phones could come to Ting. "Until now, only about 10% of existing phones could come to Ting. When we launched the GSM service, over 80% of phones will be able to come to Ting for just $9 investment in Ting’s new SIM card. For those wanting to bring a device of their own this just makes the total savings calculation that much more favorable, for those who wanting to buy a new device it greatly expands the options."[343]

[edit] February 11, 2015: Tucows Announces $20 Million Stock Buyback Program

CNN Money reported on February 11, 2015 that Tucows announced that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback program to repurchase up to $20 million of its common stock in the open market. The stock buyback program will commence February 16, 2015 and will terminate on or before February 15, 2016. All shares purchased by Tucows under the stock buyback program will be retired and returned to treasury.[344]

[edit] February 11, 2015: Ting No Longer Has to Wait for iPhone 6/6 plus on Sprint Network

9to5mac reported on February 11, 2015 that sources say Sprint is dropping a requirement that made the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) using its network—such as Ting, FreedomPop, Straight Talk, Boost, and Virgin—wait a certain period of time, usually at least a year, before offering support for the latest devices. For Ting, the moves comes just as it’s about to land support for almost all devices anyway as it makes a deal with T-Mobile to offer support for GSM devices on its network. In the past, Ting required customers to bring a Sprint supported, CDMA device when signing up with its plans, but in the coming weeks the carrier will also support GSM devices through the new deal with T-Mobile.[345]

[edit] January 21, 2015: Google to Start an MVNO?

Paul Lily writes at Hot Hardware that according to subscription site The Information and the "three people with knowledge of the plans," Google will soon tap into networks belonging to Sprint and T-Mobile for its new service, buying wholesale access to mobile voice and data in order to make itself a virtual network operator. According to Lily, Google's interested in expanding its business outside of its core to "spur broader industry change." "Google's already doing this with its Google Fiber initiative, and since it's already a major player in mobile, offering cellular service isn't exactly a stretch," writes Lily adding that the project will be known as "Nova," and is reportedly being led by Google's Nick Fox, a longtime executive with the company.[346] According to Mikey Campbell Google first reached out to Sprint over a potential MVNO partnership 18 months ago and employees have already beta tested the service. Campbell adds that the carriers have reportedly taken a wary approach to the proposed deal. Sprint, for example, is said to be inserting contract terms that trigger new negotiations if Google's customer base hits a certain level.[347]

[edit] Ting Welcomes Google to the Fray

Andrew Moore-Crispin wrote on the Ting Blog of January 22, 2015 that Ting welcomes Google to the fray. "There are more than enough disenfranchised customers of the major carriers to go around. With three years in the game, we’re available to chat—to hangout, as it were—but it seems only fair that you buy whatever drinks will be had when we do." Moore-Crispin says that Google’s entry into the market will be the first a lot of people will hear about “MVNOs” as an alternative to the majors and just adds more legitimacy and helps to dispel the myth that MVNO customers get second-rate service. "We’ll out odds on our approach of putting customers in control of their devices and ultimately, their bills and of having real, human beings pick up the phone when it rings."[348]

[edit] January 21, 2015: Ting Announces Beginning of GSM Rollout

Tucows announced on January 21, 2015 that Ting is on track to launch Ting on a GSM network in late February and is slowly inviting people into the early beta phases. "Our first batch of X1 SIM cards has arrived in Starkville, Mississippi. We’ve been testing Ting service across a wide array of devices since early December."[349]

[edit] January 13, 2015: Ting to Be Network Operator of Internet Service to City-Owned Fiber Optic Network in Westminister, Maryland

The Whir reported that Tucows announced on January 13, 2015 that Ting has been selected to be the network operator of the city-owned fiber optic network in Westminister, Maryland that will initially reach around 9,000 homes and 500 businesses. “They believed that superfast Internet could bring and grow businesses, create jobs, increase property values and improve the quality of life for all residents,” said Ting VP of marketing Michael Goldstein. “They also realized that infrastructure that is crucial to the city, and likely will be for the next hundred years, should rightly be owned by the city.” “If a smaller, more customer-focused company player like Ting can pull off a win-win in a community like Charlottesville, it bodes really well for small towns and providers all over the country," said Ting senior content manager Andrew Moore-Crispin. "For the record, we’re confident we can pull off just that, otherwise we wouldn’t start down the path."[350]

[edit] January 8, 2015: Tucows Dutch Auction Ends with Purchase of 193,907 shares at $18.50

Tucows announced in a press release on January 8, 2015 that their modified “Dutch auction” tender offer had ended with the purchase 193,907 shares of its common stock at a purchase price of $18.50 per share, for a total cost of $3,587,280, excluding fees and expenses related to the tender offer. The 193,907 shares accepted for purchase in the tender offer represent approximately 1.7% of Tucows’ currently issued and outstanding common stock. Following the payment Tucows will have approximately 11,135,825 shares issued and outstanding.[351]

[edit] December 16, 2014: Ting Acquires Majority Stake In Blue Ridge InternetWorks, an Independent Internet Service Provider

Tucows Launches Ting Fiber. In December, 2014 Tucows launched Ting Fiber, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tucows, announcing that Tucows had entered into an agreement to acquire 70% ownership of an independent Internet service provider in Charlottesville, Virginia doing business primarily as Blue Ridge InternetWorks, a company that provides high speed Internet access, Internet hosting and network consulting services to over 3,000 customers in Central Virginia. “The expansion from mobile to fixed access is almost obvious for us,” said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “The only customers in the world more starved for great service and fair pricing than mobile phone customers are cable customers." This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Tucows issued a press release on December 15, 2014 reported that Ting Fiber, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tucows, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 70% ownership of an independent Internet service provider in Charlottesville, Virginia doing business primarily as Blue Ridge InternetWorks, a company that provides high speed Internet access, Internet hosting and network consulting services to over 3,000 customers in Central Virginia. “The expansion from mobile to fixed access is almost obvious for us,” says Tucows CEO Elliot Noss. “The only customers in the world more starved for great service and fair pricing than mobile phone customers are cable customers. They deserve that. But we have an opportunity with BRI in Charlottesville to offer even more than great service at a low price. The step up to gigabit, or ultra high-speed, access is profound.” The founders of the BRI Group will remain with the company. The price and terms of the acquisition were not announced. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015. “For shareholders, this is a rare opportunity," concluded Noss. "In one deal, we get customers, revenue, prospects, infrastructure and a wealth of fiber expertise. We get an inside track on a game changing technology.”[352]

[edit] December 15, 2014: eWeek Says Sprint Won't Seek T-Mobile Merger Again

Todd R. Weiss reported on eWeek on December 15, 2014 that Sprint's parent company, Japan's Softbank, is no longer considering a rumored second attempt to acquire T-Mobile U.S., less than four months after the first merger attempt was dropped in August. According to Weiss, following the aborted merger attempt, Sprint shook up its executive ranks by replacing its CEO, Dan Hesse, with Marcelo Claure, the founder and CEO of Brightstar, a subsidiary of Softbank. Then in December, Sprint Chief Financial Officer Joe Euteneuer announced at an investor conference that things have been getting back on track at Sprint with huge progress made in getting the company's wireless network updated. Sprint had been experiencing network problems and customer losses due to service dissatisfaction in the recent past, but the company's network build-out is now "substantially complete" and will help drive a push for more subscribers, Euteneuer said. Sprint has also started some serious attempts to increase its customer base, thanks to a half-price wireless service offer it made recently to existing customers of competitors Verizon Wireless and AT&T if they move their service to Sprint.[353]

[edit] December 9, 2014: Fiercewireless Says Ting Will Be Adding T-Mobile Support in February 2015

Phil Goldstein reported at Fiercemobile that Ting Director Scott Allan told FierceWireless that he could not say which GSM carrier Ting is working with due to contractual obligation however, a coverage map Ting provided to FierceWireless mirrors the national coverage footprint of T-Mobile. Customers will be able to bring unlocked GSM phones to Ting and purchase a GSM SIM card to work with the phone. Ting's GSM SIM cards will cost $9 or less, according to Allan. Allan said Ting only began discussing adding a GSM partner within the last six months but that the move fits with what Ting offers to customers. "It aligns with our brand," he said. "We want consumers to have choices. And we want consumers to have freedom. And we want to provide innovative services. GSM really ticks all those boxes for us."[354]

[edit] December 9, 2014: Ting Will Support Latest Devices Including iPhone 6 in February 2015

The Ting Blog reported on December 9, 2014 that when Ting on GSM is live in February 2015, there will be no more waiting for the latest iPhone or Android device to be allowed on Ting. If it can be purchased unlocked, or if it can be carrier unlocked, it can come. What’s more, better than 80% of smartphones made in the last couple of years will be compatible with Ting. That will include the unlocked iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.[355]

[edit] December 9, 2014: Ting to Add Service on a GSM Network

Tucows announced on December 9, 2014 that Ting has an agreement with a major US network provider to offer service on a GSM network that is slated to go live in February 2015 and will operate in concert with the existing CDMA service. Once live, CDMA and GSM devices can coexist under a single Ting account, sharing a single pool of minutes, messages and megabytes of data. “This is an industry first,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows and Ting. “Our goal has always been a mobile market where customers and their devices can move between carriers as they see fit. We think the power balance in the mobile industry is all off. Customers, not service providers, should hold the cards.”[356]

[edit] December 8, 2014: Tucows Announces Dutch Auction Tender Offer

Tucows announced on December 8, 2014 that that it is commencing its "modified Dutch auction Tender Offer" (the "Tender Offer") to repurchase a number of its common stock not to exceed an aggregate purchase price of $8.0 million. Under the Tender Offer, shareholders will have the opportunity to tender some or all of their shares at a price within the range of $16.50 to $18.50 per share. Assuming that the offer is fully subscribed, if the Purchase Price is determined to be $16.50 per share, the minimum Purchase Price under the Tender Offer, the approximate number of shares that will be purchased under the offer is 484,848. Assuming that the Tender Offer is fully subscribed, if the Purchase Price is determined to be $18.50 per share, the maximum Purchase Price under the offer, the approximate number of shares that will be purchased under the offer is 432,432. Shareholders whose shares are purchased in the offer will be paid the determined purchase price per share net in cash, without interest, after the expiration of the offer period at 5:00 P.M., New York City Time, on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. [357]

[edit] December 7, 2014: Brian Nichols writes: Is 2015 Make or Break for Sprint?

Brian Nichols writes in an opinion piece in Seeking Alpha that Sprint has consistently lost customers for several years because of the poor quality the Sprint Network which recently was rated worst of the big four large telecoms by a survey in Consumer Reports. Sprint has recently announced an aggressive price cuttting plan, vowing to cut AT&T and Verizon customers' bills in half, in exchange for their business in the hope that aggressive pricing will lead to renewed interest in the carrier's services.

"The problem is that Sprint has lost 336,000 and 181,000 post-paid subscribers in its last two quarters, respectively," writes Nichols. "Not to mention, Sprint was recently voted the worst carrier in the U.S. by Consumer Reports. This means Sprint has to overcome quite a bit of negative consumer sentiment in its attempt to grow its subscriber base larger." According to Nichols if Sprint fails to attract new customers with its price cutting plan, it's tough to find a scenario where Sprint comes out on top. "As a result, I think a share price below $3 by the end of next year is very possible, and that a long-term price target of $0 is not out of the question. Needless to say, I would not invest in Sprint at any price, as I see no value based on the most likely of scenarios."[358]

[edit] November 20, 2014: Consumer Reports Rates Ting Highest Among Wireless Providers

Consumer Reports Rates Ting Highest Among Wireless Providers. In Consumer Reports' annual cell-phone service comparison in November 2014, Ting came out on top as the best mobile wireless provider with a company rating of 91 out of 100 because of their excellent service and customer support. According to Glenn Derene, the Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, “Smaller providers like Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Republic have excellent satisfaction ratings because they’re designing innovative strategies to keep plan costs down for their customers and simplify their service options.”. This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Justin Diaz reported at Android Headlines on November 20, 2014 that as part of Consumer Reports annual cell-phone service comparison Ting came out on top as the best mobile wireless provider with a company rating of 91 out of 100 because of their excellent service and customer support. According to Glenn Derene, the Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports, “Smaller providers like Ting, Consumer Cellular, and Republic have excellent satisfaction ratings because they’re designing innovative strategies to keep plan costs down for their customers and simplify their service options.”[359]

“If you haven’t heard of the company before, there’s a reason for that: The service’s parent company, Tucows, is a domain name registrar and has made a business decision to not spend a lot on Ting-related advertising, instead choosing to offer lower-priced services. Considering they received the top spot on value, it appears they are performing well here."[360]

[edit] November 20, 2014: Consumer Reports Rates Sprint as Worst Mobile Network

Brian Nichols reported at Motely Fool on December 1, 2014 that according to Consumer Reports. Sprint is the nation's worst cell phone service provider. Consumer Reports surveyed approximately 63,352 people across 26 major metropolitan areas. It found that Sprint received "dismal" marks in value, voice, text messaging, and 4G reliability. "That said, there are a few areas where Sprint's results may have been altered by consumer perception, rather than reality. For example, Sprint's wireless service plans are mostly all cheaper than the equivalent plans from AT&T and Verizon. So Sprint's "dismal" value ranking is a bit odd," writes Nichols. "Not to mention, Ting, a small carrier that ranked number one nationally in the survey actually uses Sprint's network. Ting is a mobile virtual network operator, further supporting the notion that consumer perception may be driving the results in this study."[361][362]

Consumer Reports reached out to several of the carriers in their survey for comment. Elliot Noss, CEO of Ting, was ecstatic. "What we do is actually sort of obvious," he said. "We offer fair, honest pricing that doesn't penalize customers for using too much or too little. Our customers seem to appreciate it and we certainly appreciate this recognition from them."[363]

According to Consumer Reports, Ting has perhaps the simplest plan of all—you pay a monthly fee for each device on the plan, then you are billed at the end of the month for the voice minutes and data that you use. The less you use, the less you pay. Both carriers scored high in our Ratings.[364]

[edit] November 12, 2014: Tucows Announces Third Quarter Results

"In the third quarter we again saw the growing contribution from Ting in our financial results as our Domain Services businesses continued to deliver consistent, reliable performance," said Elliot Noss, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tucows Inc. "We achieved net earnings of $0.24 per share, bringing net earnings for the year-to-date to $0.40 per share, surpassing our total for the entire 2013 year. Consolidated gross margin increased to 26% from 21% a year earlier, excluding the Portfolio group, which benefited from atypical contributions in both quarters."[365]

[edit] Ting has 82,000 Customers at the End of Q3 and Added 11,000 New Customers This Quarter

"I want to note, that while we added 11,000 accounts in Q3 we are now counting our total of active accounts at just over 82,000, which is only 9,000 more than the 73,000 we reported last quarter," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "This is the result of a one-time change in how we measure active accounts."[366]

"Ting continued its strong customer growth in the third quarter. We had a roughly 11,000 accounts and 17,000 devices, that represents a 15% increase in our customer base in the quarter, healthy growth for just about any business. But for Ting, it is in fact a bit of a slowdown," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "Absolute net adds were slightly below both Q2 of this year and Q3 of last year. This is partly above the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launches during the quarter, devices we do not yet support on Ting. It is also partly about the climbing perception of the Sprint network relative to other major networks. And it also appears to be about aggressive new price promotions for major carriers to retain and acquire customers. Looking ahead, we believe each of these areas, device, network and price bring more opportunities for Ting growth than threats."[367]

[edit] Ting Has 130,000 Devices at the End of Q3 and Added 17,000 New Devices This Quarter

"As I last quarter I will quickly summarize the Ting business for easy modeling. We finished the quarter at 82,000 customers with 130,000 devices," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "Customers are spending about $35 a month on their phone bills. Growth margins are 45% to 50%. We spent under $100 to acquire a customer. We are adding about 16,000 new customers on growth basis each quarter and continue to churn about 2.5% of our base each month."[368]

"Ting continued its strong customer growth in the third quarter. We had a roughly 11,000 accounts and 17,000 devices, that represents a 15% increase in our customer base in the quarter, healthy growth for just about any business. But for Ting, it is in fact a bit of a slowdown," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "Absolute net adds were slightly below both Q2 of this year and Q3 of last year. This is partly above the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launches during the quarter, devices we do not yet support on Ting. It is also partly about the climbing perception of the Sprint network relative to other major networks. And it also appears to be about aggressive new price promotions for major carriers to retain and acquire customers. Looking ahead, we believe each of these areas, device, network and price bring more opportunities for Ting growth than threats."[369]

[edit] Customers Are Spending About $35 a Month on Their Phone Bills

"Customers are spending about $35 a month on their phone bills," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss.[370]

[edit] Gross Margins are 45% to 50%

Gross margins are 45% to 50%," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss.[371]

[edit] Customer Acquisition Costs are under $100

We spent under $100 to acquire a customer.

[edit] Ting Expects to Add 16,000 New Customer Per Quarter

We are adding about 16,000 new customers on growth basis each quarter and continue to churn between 2.0 and 2.5% of our base each month.

[edit] Average Ting Customer Saves $60 per Month

"A recent audit of the Ting base revealed that our average customer has saved $37.57 per device a month since switching, that’s an average of nearly $60 per account," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "Meanwhile McKinsey just completed an annual survey, revealing that for the second year in a row price is the number one consideration for customers changing mobile providers and the percentage for whom that is true has grown considerably."[372]

[edit] Ting is No Longer Appealing to Just Early Adapters

"For the past couple of years, we’ve been fighting for our share of a small population of early adopters that are just satisfied and venturous enough to look beyond the major carriers for savings," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "We believe the most important trend over the next year, will be more and more people joining that population recognizing that they can be paying less, looking beyond the four major carriers and discovering services like ours."[373]

[edit] Survey Shows Price Is The Number One Consideration For Customers Changing Mobile Providers

Meanwhile McKinsey just completed an annual survey, revealing that for the second year in a row price is the number one consideration for customers changing mobile providers and the percentage for whom that is true has grown considerably," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "That means price ranks above network coverage or device choice. And we know that last year was the first time that that was true in this McKinsey study.[374]

[edit] Ting Made a One Time Accounting Change in How Tucows Measures Active Accounts

"This is the result of a one-time change in how we measure active accounts," said Tucows CEO Eliot Noss. "Specifically we have now removed all accounts going back throughout our history that we proactively suspended for nonpayment.[375]

[edit] Tucows Will Go into 2015 Unhedged Against the US Dollar Which Could Add $1 to 1.5 Million Yearly EBITDA

"With the movement in the Canadian dollar over the past six or so months, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide an update on our hedging program. As a reminder, we generate revenue in U.S. dollars, but the majority of our operating expenses are in Canadian dollars and therefore, we engage in foreign exchange hedging to provide certainty around future costs. The appreciation of the Canadian dollar has been a bit of a headwind really over the last decade or so, as our expenses were that much higher relative to our revenues. You see that reflective in our 2014 numbers and our guidance. However, with the recent weakening of the Canadian dollar, we now have a bit of a tailwind. We have typically hedged out 18 months or so, but are now only hedged through the end of 2014. Thus, if the foreign exchange rate stays more or less in its current range, EBITDA could benefit by as much as $1 million to $1.5 million in 2015 relative to this year.[376]

[edit] November 12, 2014: Tucows Announces Intention to Commence Dutch Auction Tender Offer

Tucows announced on November 12, 2014 that it expects to commence within 30 days of this announcement a "modified Dutch auction" tender offer to repurchase a number of shares of its common stock not to exceed an aggregate purchase price of $8.0 million. Tucows will select the lowest single per-share purchase price that will allow it to buy up to $8.0 million of its outstanding common stock at completion of the Tender Offer. The specified range is yet to be determined but is expected to be in the range of $16.00 to $18.00 per share. [377]

[edit] August 12, 2014: Tucows Announces Second Quarter Results

[edit] Ting Added 12,000 Accounts and 18,000 Devices

"Q2 was another solid quarter of customer growth for Ting," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "On our last call, we projected that Q2 net adds would land somewhere between those of Q3 and Q4 of last year, or between 11,000 and 12,000 accounts. We ended up matching Q4, adding just over 12,000 accounts and 18,000 devices. That represents a 20% growth in our customer base in total, bringing our totals to over 73,000 accounts and 112,000 devices."[378]

[edit] Ting Now Has 73,000 Accounts and 112,000 Devices

This has brought "our totals to over 73,000 accounts and 112,000 device" said Noss.[379]

[edit] Churn Rate Was Between 2 and 2.5 Percent

"Churn for Q2, and in fact pretty consistently for the past year, was in the 2% to 2.5% range per month," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "We provide this number for two main reasons. First, this is the number one data request from investors as they build out their financial models. We always try and provide as much transparency as possible in order to allow investors to track the business."[380]

[edit] Customers are Spending $35 Per Month on Their Phone Bill

"Customers are spending about $35 a month on their phone bills," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "Gross margins are 45% to 50%. We spend under $100 to acquire a customer. We’ve added 15,000, 16,000 new customers on a gross basis each of the last three quarters and have churned between 2% and 2.5% of our base."[381]

[edit] Cost to Acquire a Customer if $100

We spend under $100 to acquire a customer," said Tucows President Elliot Noss.[382]

[edit] Gross Margins Are 45 to 50 Per Cent

Gross margins are 45% to 50%," said Tucows President Elliot Noss.[383]

[edit] Ting is the Primary Driver on Gross Margins

"Yes, but I think that the primary driver on gross margins will continue to be Ting’s percentage of the business," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "So Ting is growing so much faster than the domain side of the business and has appreciably better margins. So that will be the primary impact. You’ll see margin continue to pick up, but slowly and on a decreasing percentage of the total business."[384]

[edit] May 14, 2014: Tucows Announces First Quarter Results

[edit] Ting Had 61,000 Accounts and 94,000 Devices at the End of the Quarter

"Q1 was another record quarter for customer loyalty," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "We added nearly 13,000 in accounts net and more than 20,000 devices, bringing our totals to more than 61,000 accounts and 94,000 devices at the end of March."[385]

[edit] Ting Added 13,000 Accounts and 20,000 Devices

"Q1 was another record quarter for customer loyalty," said Tucows President Elliot Noss. "We added nearly 13,000 in accounts net and more than 20,000 devices, bringing our totals to more than 61,000 accounts and 94,000 devices at the end of March."[386]

[edit] Ting's Gross Margin is Between 45 and 50%

Importantly, even after lowering our data pricing in February, our gross margin percentage remained in our targeted 45% to 50% range," said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss.[387]

[edit] Churn Rate Was Not Given

"One, I'll be a lot more comfortable putting out a churn number when the Sprint network hopefully settled down in terms of having an impact over the next couple of quarters. I listened to their calls with great interest and I am looking forward to the call where they say, our network's no longer having an impact on churn because when impacts them, it impacts us," said Tucows CEO Elliot Noss.[388]

[edit] February 12, 2014: Tucows Announces Fourth Quarter Results

[edit] Ting Had 48,000 accounts and 74,000 devices at the End of the Quarter

Moving to Ting metrics, Q4 was another outstanding quarter. We added more than 12,000 accounts and more than 18,000 devices beating Q3’s record numbers and bringing our totals to 48,000 accounts and 74,000 devices at the end of December.[389]

[edit] Ting Added 12,000 accounts and 18,000 devices During the Quarter

Moving to Ting metrics, Q4 was another outstanding quarter. We added more than 12,000 accounts and more than 18,000 devices beating Q3’s record numbers and bringing our totals to 48,000 accounts and 74,000 devices at the end of December.[390]

[edit] Gross Margin and Churn Not Given for This Quarter

Importantly gross margin percentage, annual customer contribution and customer acquisition costs continue to be right where we would like them. Last quarter I talked about our rate of growth leveling off subsequent for the launch of iPhone 5C and 5S and iOS 7.[391]

[edit] What Analysts Say About Tucows and Ting

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] December 5, 2016: Stock Newsweek Calculates that Tucows Has a Piotroski Score of Seven

Tucows currently has a Piotroski Score of 7. The Piotroski Score (or F-Score) is named after its creator Joseph Piotroski who developed a ranking scale from 0-9 to help determine the financial strength of a company. Graphic: Forbes

Stock Newsweek reported on December 5, 2016 that according to their analysis Tucows currently has a Piotroski Score of 7. The Piotroski Score (or F-Score) is named after its creator Joseph Piotroski who developed a ranking scale from 0-9 to help determine the financial strength of a company. To arrive at this score, Piotroski gave one point for every piece of criteria met out of the nine considered. In terms of profitability, one point was given if there was a positive return on assets in the current year, one point if operating cash flow was positive in the current year, one point for higher ROA in the current period compared to ROA for the previous year, and one point for cash flow from operations greater than ROA. In terms of leverage and liquidity, one point was given for a lower ratio of long term debt in the current period compared to the previous year, one point was given for higher current ratio compared to the previous year, and one point if no new shares were issued in the last year. In terms of operating efficiency, one point was given for higher gross margin compared to the previous year, and one point was given for a higher asset turnover ratio compared to the previous year. In general, a stock with a score of 8 or 9 would be considered strong while a stock with a score from 0-2 would be considered weak.[392][393]

According to an article in Forbes on July 8, 2016, the distribution of current Piotroski F-scores for the S&P 500 is roughly normal with a mean of 5.54 and a standard deviation of 1.52. The F-scores range from 2 to 9; 11 companies have an F-score of 2 while five have the maximum possible F-score. The distribution of current F-scores suggests that most companies have strong business outlooks based on their F-scores. About 52% of the companies have an F-score between 5 and 6, which is typical for stable companies. Additionally, 131 companies have an F-score greater than or equal to 7. Joseph D. Piotroski, who introduced the F-score, targets companies with high F-scores. On the other hand, 37 companies, which represents less than 6% of all S&P 500 companies, have F-scores less than or equal to 3. These companies make good sell targets, according to short-seller James Montier.[394][395]

[edit] October 10, 2016: The Motley Fool writes: "Why Tucows Inc. Gained 16.8% in September"

Anders Bylund wrote at The Motley Fool on October 10, 2016 that shares of Tucows rose 16.8% in September 2016 ignited by the announcement that Tucows subsidiary Ting Fiber will be expanding to Centennial, Colorado, the fourth and largest local market for its high-speed fiber network services. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss telegraphed the Centennial expansion in a couple of ways. In August's second-quarter earnings call, he said the "pipeline of new cities is full, and we expect to be sharing additional locations before the end of the year."

According to Bylund, it was already pretty obvious that Ting Internet was going places. "This business will be of central importance to Tucows' future prospects," concludes Bylund, "and investors have plenty of reason to rejoice when Ting Internet breaks into spacious new territories like Centennial."[396]

[edit] October 10, 2016: Hugh Pickens Estimates Potential Impact of Fiber Penetration in Centennial on Tucows' Quarterly Earnings

Google Fiber Costs. In 2013 Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner issued a report on how much Google paid for Fiber installation in Kansas City. Google charges consumers $70 monthly for high speed fiber. Kirjner's table breaks down where the money goes. Graphic: Costquest, Berstein Analysis

According to Hugh Pickens, an investor in Tucows who follows the stock closely, it is possible to estimate the potential impact of household and business fiber penetration in Centennial on Tucows' quarterly earnings by using the following process:

[edit] Step 1: Estimate Ting's Gross Margin in Centennial Using Google Fiber Installation Costs in Kansas City as a Baseline

In 2013 Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner issued a report on how much Google paid for Fiber installation in Kansas City. Bernstein’s Carlos Kirjner and Ram Parameswaran put a price tag on Fiber installation in Kansas City: They say it will cost $84 million to pass (but not actually connect) 149,000 homes — Google’s first phase of buildout for Kansas City. Some $38 million will go into Kansas City, Kan., and $46 million into Kansas City, Mo., with the cost per home respectively at $674 and $500.

Bernstein estimates that to connect up a broadband-only service, it will cost Google $464; those taking double-play of broadband and pay-TV services will cost $794 to connect. “To reduce labor costs, Google will connect homes in waves within each neighborhood, taking advantage of the pre-subscription process it ran asking customers to express interest in its services as it deployed the network,” Bernstein writes. That first wave, of 12,000 homes on “day one” of the service equates to an 8 percent penetration and will cost an additional $10 million for Google, making for a total cost of $94 million for the Kansas City project — $42 million in Kansas and $52 million in Missouri.[397]

Google charges consumers $70 monthly for high speed fiber. Kirjner's table breaks down where the money goes.[398]

Using Google Fiber's costs as a baseline, the comparable figures for Ting Fiber's Centennial contract are shown in the following table:

Google Monthly Fiber Gross Margin per Household (Bernstein Analysis 2013) Ting Centennial Estimated Gross Margin (15 Year Amortization)
Revenue $70.00 $89.00
Sales and Marketing 4.00 5.09
G&A 7.00 8.90
Bad Debt 1.00 1.27
High Speed Data 2.00 2.54
Customer Service 1.00 1.27
Billing 1.00 1.27
Network Opex 7.00 8.90
Amortization (15 Year) not given 16.67
Gross Margin $47.00 $43.09

Notes:

1. The model uses Bernstein Analysis of Google Fiber in Kansas City as a baseline.

2. Monthly Revenue for Google Fiber in Kansas City is $70 per household.

3. Monthly Revenue for Ting Fiber in Centennial will be $89 per household.

4. The model assumes that costs comparisons between Google Fiber and Ting Fiber are proportional to revenue.

5. Ting estimates that the cost to wire each household in Centennial is $2,500 - $3,000.

6. The model amortizes Ting Fiber's $3,000 cost of installation over 15 years.

7. Gross Margin is almost 50% under these assumptions.

[edit] Step 2: Estimate Ting's Penetration in Centennial

According to door-to-door survey Google conducted in Kansas City, Mo. in 2015, Bernstein estimates Google Fiber has gained a penetration of nearly 20 percent of homes passed since launching the service, giving it a path to surpass 40 percent of homes and gain attractive return on investments. Kirjner says AT&T and CenturyLink could be "particularly vulnerable to Google targeting" due to the size of their wireline footprints and the challenging of scaling further 1 Gbps deployments. Further, Bernstein said that Google Fiber could take between 40 to 50 percent market share in the markets where it currently offers service. This is a factor that could impact the nearly dozen cities and towns where it wants to bring the service. Bernstein said it could see the Google Fiber "experiment" scaling to 15 million to 20 million homes within six to eight years.[399]

Mark Bergen, writing in Recode in May, 2016 says that people familiar with Fiber say Google has hit its initial customer targets in its first three markets — selling broadband to about 30 percent of the homes it has hooked up for service, the industry standard for feasibility. Fiber brought in roughly $100 million in revenue last year, according to sources. According to Bergen at Fiber's onset, Google saw a clear economic upside in smaller cities. Sources said Milo Medin, an internet and telecom expert, would demonstrate this with a simple chart: Population density on the X axis; cost on the Y. He then drew a smiley face. Fiber's sweet spot was the bottom of the lip, mid-sized cities where installation was not too expensive and national ISPs did not have major operational focuses.[400]

Kirjner, writing in October, 2015 says he believes Google Fiber could reach 40% to 50% market share in the markets it currently is in – Kansas City, Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas – and the markets it’s currently begun deployments in, or announced plans to deploy in -- Salt Lake City; Nashville; Atlanta; Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas and several cities it’s considering, Irvine and San Diego, Calif., and Louisville, Ky. Although the service has seen only limited success in its deployments thus far, Google could easily ramp it up and warns competitors not be “too complacent,” especially as Google Fiber continues to get rave reviews from current subscribers who routinely rate it a “9” on a scale of 1-10 in terms of satisfaction with the service. Kirjner wrote that although many pundits have dismissed the service as a tool to prod service providers to upgrade broadband speeds or as a platform to push broadband policy with regulators, he believes it has “a better-than-good chance to build a profitable local-access competitor.”[401]

A survey conducted for The Wall Street Journal in 2014 found that 42% of the residents surveyed in five middle- and higher-income neighborhoods in Kansas City signed on to Google Fiber. An additional 11% took the slower version. Both surveys were conducted door-to-door by research firm Haynes & Co.; the one involving middle- and higher-income neighborhoods was commissioned by brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein. The Bernstein survey polled areas west of Troost, where the median household income is just over $57,000, according to U.S. Census data.[402]

[edit] Step 3: Calculate Potential Impact of Fiber Penetration in Centennial on Tucows' Quarterly Earnings

The Denver Post reported on September 22, 2016 that if enough people are interested, Ting Internet will bring its fiber-optic network to residents of the city as early as next year and according to Centennial councilman and mayor pro tem Charles “C.J.” Whelan Ting wouldn’t have gotten this far without researching the demand. “In round terms, there are about 37,000 households in Centennial and about 4,000 to 5,000 registered businesses,” Whelan said. “If they get 20 to 30 percent penetration here, that will be a strong hit for them.”

Ting charges $89 a month per household for 1 gbps service up and down, plus a $200 installation fee, while businesses pay $139 a month. Tucows CEO Elliot Noss shared the economics of Ting entering a market: they need a 20 percent penetration rate in the first year and 50 percent after five years. The cost of connecting a home is about $2,500 to $3,000.[403]

Fiber Optic Household Penetration in Centennial, Colorado

Household Penetration (Per Cent) Centennial Fiber Households (37,000 total) Annual Gross Sales at $89 per household (dollars) Annual Gross Margin (dollars) Additional Earnings per Share per Quarter before taxes and other expenses (cents)
10% 3,700 $3,951,600 $1,911,864 4.78
20% 7,400 7,903,200 3,823,728 9.56
30% 11,100 11,854,800 5,735,592 14.34
40% 14,800 15,806,400 7,647,456 19.12
50% 18,500 19,758,000 9,559,320 23.90
60% 22,200 23,709,600 11,471,184 28.68
70% 25,900 27,661,200 13,383,048 33.46
80% 29,600 31,612,800 15,294,912 38.24
90% 33,300 35,564,400 17,206,776 43.02
100% 37,000 39,516,000 19,118,640 47.80

Notes:

1. Model uses 37,000 households in Centennial, Colorado.

2. Model does not consider 4,500 businesses in Centennial, Colorado.

3. Model uses a gross margin of $43.09 per month per household.

4. The model includes the costs of connecting a home for $3,000 amortized over fifteen years.

5. The rows in red show the range of projected fiber penetration from one year to five years increasing from 20% to 50%.

6. The total Incremental Contribution from Ting per Share (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) in Q2 2016 was 57 cents.

7. Elliot Noss told analysts during the 2016 third quarter earnings conference call on November 7, 2016 that Tucows continues to feel good about their investment in Ting Internet and that their numbers show them "spending $2,500 to $3,000 per customer for a recurring margin of about $1,000 year." These numbers reference a mix of residential customer paying $89/month and businesses paying $139/month.[404]

[edit] August 12, 2016: Hugh Pickens Calculates Tucows New Adjusted EBITDA Under the SEC Compliance Update

Tucows EBITDA Per Quarter (Click on chart to expand.)

Tucows CFO Michael Cooperman told analysts during the 2016 first quarter earnings conference call on August 8, 2016 that that Tucows has amended the definition of adjusted EBITDA to adhere to the SEC compliance update. "We have again modified the definition for adjusted EBITDA this quarter. Essentially, this was in response to clarification guidance issued on May 17 of this year by the SEC in a compliance and disclosure interpretations update regarding non-GAAP measures. That guidance indicated that adjusting earnings for deferred revenue may not be consistent with disclosure rules," said Cooperman. "Following discussions with our audit committee and auditors, we concluded that we still believe adjusted EBITDA is a useful metric for our investors; however, we thought that the prudent path forward would be to amend the definition of adjusted EBITDA to adhere to the SEC compliance update. Accordingly, we are revised our definition of adjusted EBITDA to eliminate the adjustments for the effect of net deferred revenue to reflect net revenue on an earned basis. For those of you wishing to compute our adjusted EBITDA in our prior definitions, this can be done with reference to our disclosure financials and our MD&A. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter increased 64% to 7.1 million from 4.3 million in the corresponding periods of last year."[405]

Hugh Pickens, a long term investor in Tucows who closely follows the company, has researched what the effect is of the SEC compliance update on the calculation of Tucows' Adjusted EBITDA. Pickens' research indicates that the new Adjusted EBITDA can be calculated by taking Tucows' previously disclosed EBITDA figures and subtracting both the "Deferred Revenue" and the "Prepaid domain name registry and ancillary services fees" which are both under the heading of "Change in Non-Cash Working Capital" on page 3 of Tucows' Consolidated Financial Statements. Performing this calculation for the past two years results in the following spreadsheet.

2014: Q1 2014: Q2 2014: Q3 2014: Q4 2015: Q1 2015: Q2 2015: Q3 2015: Q4 2016: Q1 2016: Q2
Adjusted EBITDA $3,314,000 $3,275,000 $4,920,000 $3,531,000 $6,873,000 $5,357,000 $7,030,000 $6,313,000 $6,313,000
minus Deferred Revenue $2,748,993 $867,445 -$656,430 -$1,871,865 $2,061,510 $983,000 $140,850 -$2,819,673 $1,508,582
minus Prepaid Domain Names -$1,815,638 -$606,215 $573,727 $1,516,718 -$1,462,844 -$755,932 $149,905 $2,699,924 -$797,920
Adjusted EBITDA under New SEC Accounting Rules $2,380,645 $3,013,770 $5,002,703 $3,886,147 $6,274,334 $5,129,932 $6,739,245 $6,432,749 $5,602,338 $7,112,000

Notes:

1. The "Adjusted EBITDA" is the original EBITDA that Tucows disclosed on their Financial Statement starting in Q1 2014 and going through Q1 2016.

2. The "Deferred Revenue" and the "Prepaid domain name registry and ancillary services fees" are both under the heading of "Change in Non-Cash Working Capital" on page 3 of Tucows' Consolidated Financial Statements.

3. Both the "Deferred Revenue" and the "Prepaid domain name registry and ancillary services fees" are subtracted from the "Adjusted EBITDA" which results in the "Adjusted EBITDA under New SEC Accounting Rules."

4. Starting in Q2 2016 these two adjustments have already been made to the numbers that Tucows reports in their quarterly reports.

[edit] August 9, 2016: Comark Cuts Q1 2017 EPS Estimate to $0.57

Community Finalcial News reported that investment analysts at Cormark cut their Q1 2017 EPS estimates for shares of Tucows in a research report issued on October 9, 2016. Cormark analyst Hubert Mak now anticipates that the firm will earn $0.57 per share for the quarter, down from their prior estimate of $0.61. Cormark also issued estimates for Tucows’ Q2 2017 earnings at $0.58 EPS, Q3 2017 earnings at $0.59 EPS, Q4 2017 earnings at $0.61 EPS and FY2017 earnings at $2.36 EPS.[406]

[edit] July 28, 2016: Hugh Pickens writes 'Tucows and the Dog That Did Not Bark in the Night'

Tucows Breakout in 2015. In May, 2015 Tucows made an unexpected breakout. Tucows' stock price began a rapid increase beginning on May 1, 2015 when Tucows closed at 17.98 and increasing to a closing high of 31.59 on July 21, 2015. A month later on August 21, 2015 the stock price had retreated to about $25. During the same period, from May 1, 2015 to July 21, 2015 there was a succession of insider stock sales at Tucows. On May 19, 2015 Kenneth Derrick Schafer (EVP Retail) sold 16,250 shares; between May 22, 2015 and June 17, 2015 Rawleigh Ralls (Co-Chair Board of Directors) sold 86,260 shares of Tucows at prices ranging from 24.48 to 28.85; Allen Karp (Co-Chair Board of Directors) sold 10,000 shares on June 2, 2015 at 27.95; and Michael Goldstein (VP Marketing) sold 12,450 shares between June 16, 2015 and June 18, 2015.
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

One of the most popular Sherlock Holmes short stories, "Silver Blaze" focuses on the disappearance of a race horse on the eve of an important race and on the apparent murder of its trainer. The tale is distinguished by its atmospheric Dartmoor setting and late-Victorian sporting milieu. It also features some of Conan Doyle's most effective plotting, hinging on the "curious incident of the dog in the night-time:"

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

The "curious incident of the dog in the night-time" is easily explained: the dog made no noise, because no stranger was there. As Holmes explains: “I had grasped the significance of the silence of the dog, for one true inference invariably suggests others....Obviously the midnight visitor was someone whom the dog knew well. It was Straker who removed Silver Blaze from his stall and led him out on to the moor."[407]

What does this have to do with Tucows and its future prospects? In May, 2015 Tucows stock price made an unexpected breakout. Tucows' stock price began a rapid increase beginning on May 1, 2015 when Tucows closed at 17.98 and increased to a closing high of 31.59 on July 21, 2015. A month later on August 21, 2015 the stock price had retreated to about $25.

During the same period from May 1, 2015 to July 21, 2015 there was a succession of insider stock sales at Tucows. Between May 22, 2015 and June 17, 2015 Rawleigh Ralls (Co-Chair Board of Directors) sold 86,260 shares of Tucows at prices ranging from 24.48 to 28.85; Allen Karp (Co-Chair Board of Directors) sold 10,000 shares on June 2, 2015 at 27.95; On May 19 Kenneth Derrick Schafer (EVP Retail) sold 16,250 shares; and Michael Goldstein (VP Marketing) sold 12,450 shares between June 16, 2015 and June 18, 2015.

This year, Tucows has broken out again beginning on July 7, 2016 when Tucows closed at 25.40 on high volume and rising to 29.90 on July 29, 2016. It is unknown whether the breakout will continue. What is known is that this year, in contrast to 2015, there has been no insider selling.

"Insiders, especially members of the board or senior management, understand the future prospects of a company better than the general public," says Hugh Pickens, a long term investor in Tucows who follows the company closely. "In 2015 when Tucows broke out, many insiders sold some of their stock, perhaps because they knew that the stock price had gotten ahead of itself and didn't have the fundamentals to sustain that level of valuation." According to Pickens the "dog that did not bark in the night" in 2016 is that now that the stock is making a similar break-out, there has been no rush of insiders to sell their stock in Tucows. "The fact that there is no insider selling at this level may indicate that insiders know that Tucows' fundamentals are strong. This may mean that Tucows can support the present valuation or perhaps an even higher one," concludes Pickens. "However, traders may want to watch future insider trades closely to determine if and when they want to take profits."

Note: This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

[edit] May 11, 2016: Comark Raises Tucows' Earnings Per Share Projections to $2.26 for FY2016, $2.55 for FY2017

Comark Raises Tucows' Earnings Per Share Projections to $2.26 for FY2016, $2.55 for FY2017. Washington News Wire reported on May 11, 2016 that Research analysts at Cormark raised their Q2 2016 earnings per share (EPS) estimates for shares of Tucows to $0.55 for the quarter, up from their prior estimate of $0.53. Cormark also issued estimates for Tucows’ Q3 2016 earnings at $0.58 EPS, Q4 2016 earnings at $0.61 EPS, FY2016 earnings at $2.26 EPS, Q2 2017 earnings at $0.63 EPS, Q3 2017 earnings at $0.66 EPS, Q4 2017 earnings at $0.66 EPS and FY2017 earnings at $2.55 EPS.

Washington News Wire reported on May 11, 2016 that Research analysts at Cormark raised their Q2 2016 earnings per share (EPS) estimates for shares of Tucows to $0.55 for the quarter, up from their prior estimate of $0.53. Cormark also issued estimates for Tucows’ Q3 2016 earnings at $0.58 EPS, Q4 2016 earnings at $0.61 EPS, FY2016 earnings at $2.26 EPS, Q2 2017 earnings at $0.63 EPS, Q3 2017 earnings at $0.66 EPS, Q4 2017 earnings at $0.66 EPS and FY2017 earnings at $2.55 EPS.[408]

[edit] May 10, 2016: Cantor Fitzgerald Lowers Tucows' Price Target from $36 to $29

Cantech Letter reported on May 10, 2016 that Cantor Fitzgerald Canada analyst David Tomljenovic has lowered his one-year price target on Tucows from (U.S.) $36.00 to $29.00, implying a return of 23% at the time of publication. Tomljenovic says he was overly optimistic about the number of subscriber additions that Ting Mobile would make, and is now reducing his revenue and EBITDA forecast for the remainder of this year because of it. Tomljenovic says that while Ting Mobile continues to deliver impressive growth an inevitable problem is surfacing. “While as impressive as Ting Mobile’s growth was in the quarter, the rate of change of growth continued to decelerate which is understandable – as the user base grows, the growth rate becomes more difficult to sustain. Our expectations in this regard have proven to be too aggressive. We have reduced our quarterly new subscriber rate to 6,000 / quarter down from our previous assumption of 9,500. This makes up the majority of our reduced revenue estimate. Given the strong impact that Ting revenues have on gross and EBITDA margins, this also brings our EBITDA number down. We are in-line with management’s 2016 EBITDA guidance of approximately U$30M with our estimate of U$30.6.”[409]

[edit] April 27, 2016: Jerome Hass at Lightwater Partners Says Tucows Produces Predictable Cash Flow, Trades at a Reasonable Multiple, and Has Decent Growth Prospects

Michael Chu wrote at Business News Network on April 26, 2016 that according to Jerome Hass, portfolio manager at Lightwater Partners, Tucows is an “uncrowded” Canadian mid-cap stock that don’t get much attention from investors or sell-side analysts that produces predictable cash flows, trades at a reasonable multiple, and has decent growth prospects. "We also like that management has consistently used its cash flow to buy back shares and has been self-sufficient with its capital."[410]

Hass is a Portfolio Manager at Lightware since 2007 and has over 20 years experience in the financial industry. Previously, Hass worked as a Portfolio Manager at Epic Capital Mgmt in Toronto and Montrusco Bolton Investments in Montreal and also worked as a Portfolio Manager in London, England for Canada Life Assurance Company. Hass holds a Bachelor degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Arts in Applied Economics from the University of Victoria as well as a Master of Science degree in Economics from the London School of Economics, and is a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst ("CFA") designation.[411]

[edit] March 17, 2016: Cantor Fitzgerald Analyzes Melbourne IT Domain Business Acquisition, Maintains $36 Price Target for Tucows

David Tomljenovic at Cantor Fitzgerald issued a research note on March 17, 2016 analyzing Tucows acquisition of Melbourne IT’s Domain Business. According to Tomljenovic, Melbourne IT (“MIT”) has been shifting their business strategy towards managed services leaving their international domain services as a non-core asset and with over 250 global resellers in Melbourne IT's network the integration synergies between Tucows and Melbourne IT are obvious. Tomljenovic estimates that the sale price of Melbourne IT's international domain registration business is approximately $6.1 to 6.4 million. "The transaction details suggest that Tucows has consummated a good deal. Tucows has placed 10% of the purchase price(~$600k) in escrow, the balance of the purchase price is only payable once 95% of the existing domains have been migrated to Tucows," writes Tomljenovic. "We believe this is a very low risk structure for Tucows. It would also suggest that all Tucows has really purchased are the existing customers and the 250 international resellers. This structure would suggest that the actual post integration purchase price could be much lower than MIT’s disclosure."

"By applying the differential in the EBITDA acquisition multiple and Tucows trading multiple, we believe this acquisition could add up to 2.5% accretion to Tucows market cap," writes Tomljenovic. "We maintain our Buy recommendation and US$36.00 target price."[412]

[edit] December 11, 2015: Hugh Pickens Comments on Seeking Alpha Article on Tucows

Hugh Pickens made the following comment on December 11, 2015 to an article in Seeking Alpha called "Time To Go Long Tucows: Fiber Presents Massive Recurring Long-Term Opportunity" by 'True Intrinsic Value':

Good article. I learned a lot reading it, especially concerning industry comparisons of ARPU, SAC and Churn. There's another good analysis on the subject of “Cohorts, Retention, Churn, ARPU” by Matt Johnson at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20090228081659/http://blog.blist.com/2008/10/15/cohorts-retention-churn-arpu

Tucows is certainly a master of conversion rate optimization with their multiple campaigns on social media and the way they track each campaign's conversion rate.

Ting Mobile's growth problem is that while gross adds are increasing quarterly, net adds are staying flat because the 2.5% monthly churn is being applied to an ever increasing user base. This means that Ting Mobile needs to bring in more customers every quarter just to stay even and it means that even though gross adds are going up, net growth is slowing. What investors need to see next quarter is for Ting Mobile to bring it's churn rate back down to around 2% and for them to turn marketing back on to increase the net adds. Both these actions are certainly doable. We just need to wait until next quarter as see how Tucows executes.

On the plus side, I suspect that the Sprint FED problems are behind us with the bad memories decaying with a half life of about six months. I am also confident based on the recent Consumer Reports ratings that Ting still has excellent customer service, and I am encouraged by Ting Mobile's recent marketing forays with Kroger and Staples that they are continuing to test new marketing channels.

As far as Ting Internet goes, it is still very early in the life cycle to have any idea how this will play out. Ting Internet has three contracts and they are going after half a dozen more in 2016 so everything is in place for them to start wiring customers. We won't know anything until we start seeing customer figures later in 2016.

Two things in Ting Internet's favor are that fiber is a very sticky business and Ting Internet expects the lifetime value of a contract to be a lot higher than Ting Mobile. Ting Internet's advantages are the excellent customer service they honed and optimized with Ting Mobile and a local presence on the ground in the three localities. I agree that this is a local business and I am encouraged by articles about Ting Internet I am seeing in local newspapers in their three market areas and Tucows' participation in local events like the recent Carroll Biz Challenge.

Everything is now in place for Ting Internet to become an engine of growth for the company. We will just have to wait see how they execute and that is what the market has been doing with regard to Tucows' stock price since August.

As a holder of the stock since 2007 who has seen TCX increase 800% since they rolled out Ting in 2012, I'm putting my money on Elliot Noss and his management team.

For more information on Tucows:

http://tucowsanalysis.com

Best Regards,

Hugh Pickens[413]

[edit] December 9, 2015: 'True Intrinsic Value' Says Ting Fiber Presents a Massive Recurring Long-Term Opportunity

Anonymous Contributor 'True Intrinsic Value' (TIV) writes at Seeking Alpha that if Tucows' can execute on their Ting Fiber roll outs over the coming two years, Ting fiber could present $50 to $60 million in additional revenue to the company, which given very conservative margin estimates in the 35% to 45% range could add approximately $15 to $25 million in EBITDA to this year's EBITDA base of $25 million. Using a 10x multiple the stock would be worth more than $40 per share for upside of at least 70% from today's price level. "Fiber is an inherently local business because the build out has to be done at a local level and is overseen by the local government unlike broader telecommunications infrastructure which is overseen at the state and federal level," writes TIV. "The local nature of the business also puts a premium on customer service, which is an area where incumbent cable and internet providers are notorious for their poor performance. Customer service is an area where Tucows already excels in their Ting Mobile business, and they are uniquely positioned to disrupt the incumbents with their superior model."

According to Tucows' management, the company plans to roll out to between 4-6 cities per annum in 2016 and 2017. "Given the company has already come to agreements with three cities we believe by 2018 the company can be fully rolled out in 10 cities," says TIV. According to TIV Tucows as a private sector company with experience in word of mouth marketing campaigns will be able to achieve take rates of at least 50% by year 3 of the roll out. Under this assumption, by 2018 Tucows would have 47.5k of the 95k addressable Multiple Dwelling Units as subscribers paying approximately $100 per month which translates to a potential annual revenue opportunity of $57 million for the company, which at 40% EBITDA margin would add approximately $23 million to the EBITDA of the company.

"Using a conservative 10x multiple for the company and a conservative 25% growth rate gets you a $31 stock price in 2016 and over a $60 stock price in 2018 for annualized returns of greater than 30% and 150%, respectively, excluding ongoing share repurchases that are likely total $50 million plus over the next 3 years," concludes TIV. "We believe Ting Internet will force the market to revalue Tucows at a significantly higher multiple setting the stage for a large move higher in the stock over the next several years."[414]

[edit] November 9, 2015: Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Maintains One Year Price Target of $36 for Tucows

Nick Waddell writes at CanTech that Cantor Fitzgerald Canada analyst Scott Curtis thinks that Tucows still has upside and says that recent results for Q3 were in-line with his expecations. Curtis says the company’s move to diversify its business in 2012 by launching wireless service provider Ting, is on more than solid footing. "Ting Mobile business now contributes over 37% of consolidated sales (versus 25% last year),” says Curtis. “Tucow’s domain business continues to deliver stable cash flow to support business development of its gigabit fiber initiative (Ting Internet).” Curtis maintained his “Buy” recommendation and (U.S.) $36.00 (C$45.00) one-year target price on Tucows, implying a return of 31% at the time of publication.[415]

[edit] November 6, 2015: Hugh Pickens Comments on Q3 Results at Seeking Alpha and Fierce Wireless

Hugh Pickens made the following comment on the stories about Tucows' Q3 results at Seeking Alpha, Fierce Wireless, and CanTech Letter.:

"As a long-term investor since 2007, who has watched TCX increase 800% in value since Tucows rolled out Ting Mobile in 2012, I was overall satisfied with Tucows' Q3 2015 performance. It would have been nice to see 10,000 to 12,000 net adds this quarter but as Noss indicated, Ting Mobile is still recovering from the FED problems with Sprint earlier this year and has taken a hit to its reputation and is just starting to regain momentum.

One big takeaway from Noss's comments is that Gross Adds have remained steady at just under 20,000 over the past five quarters. The problem is that while the 2.5% churn rate has remained relatively constant, cancellations in absolute numbers have increased as a function of the greater population of customers under contract. Every cancellation costs revenue but also $100 to replace that customer which last quarter cost the company $1.8 million. I think Ting Mobile needs to concentrate on bringing their churn rate back down to 2% and perhaps they should try to steer potential customers away from their GSM phones, even offering incentives to go with Sprint, if GSM's transient customer base is a major factor driving the higher churn rates.

I was very pleased with the progress with Ting Internet's three municipal customers and the fact that gross margins are much higher and it is a much stickier service than Ting Mobile. I look forward to seeing Ting Internet start to provide a significant contribution to Tucows bottom line in 2016. I totally agree with Noss' careful "get rich slowly" approach to entering two or three new markets in Google Fiber's Halo over the next year.

Overall a good quarter. Tucows is executing to plan and I think over the next year Tucows stockholders will be handsomely rewarded for their confidence in Tucows management. Tucows certainly has conviction in their own vision as demonstrated by the company buybacks of almost 400,000 shares of stock last quarter at an average price of $22.76 per share.

For an analysis of Tucows strategy and a model of Ting Mobile profitability, go to:

http://tucowsanalysis.com

Congratulations and Best Regards,

Hugh Pickens[416][417]

[edit] November 3, 2015: Hugh Pickens Predicts 10,000 Net Additional Ting Customers during Q3 2015

Ahead of Tucows earnings release for Q3 2015 on November 5, 2015, Hugh Pickens predicted on November 3, 2015 that Ting will add 10,000 net additional customers for the third quarter. According to Pickens Ting added an average of 12,000 new customers during each of the four quarters in 2014 (Q1: 13,000, Q2: 12,000, Q3: 11,000, and Q4: 12,000) before dropping to 9,000 net adds during the first quarter of 2015 and 10,000 in the second quarter of 2015 after the disruption caused by the Sprint FED.

Pickens expects revenue from Tucows domain services to be essentially flat this quarter and does not expect any significant contribution from Ting Fiber until 2016. Pickens predicts that Tucows will maintain their guidance for Adjusted EBITDA at $25 million for 2015 and thinks the favorable Canadian exchange rate will help Tucows meet its financial goals for the year.

On May 7, 2015 Pickens predicted that Ting would have 8,000 net additional customers for Q1 2015. Tucows actual numbers released later that day came in at 9,000 net adds. On August 8, 2015 Pickens predicted 12,000 net adds for the second quarter. The actual number came in at 10,000.

Pickens also predicts that this quarter for the first time, Ting will because the largest contributor to Tucows bottom line with the Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) equalling or exceeding the Incremental Contribution from Tucows Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) during Q3, 2015. The Incremental Contribution from Ting (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) in Q2, 2015 was $6,919,000 while the Incremental Contribution from Tucows Domain Services (Before Taxes and Other Expenses) was $7,719,000.

[edit] October 8, 2015: Zacks Lowers Tucows Stock Rating from 'Buy' to 'Hold'

Dakota Financial News reported on October 8, 2015 that Tucows was downgraded by Zacks from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on October 7, 2015.[418]

[edit] October 6, 2015: Zacks Reports Consensus Earnings for Tucows will be $1.10 for FY2015 and $1.51 for FY2016

Dakota Financial News reported on October 6, 2015 that equities analysts expect Tucows to report $0.29 earnings per share for the current fiscal quarter and full year earnings of $1.10 per share for the current financial year. Two analysts have provided estimates for Tucows’ earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $0.30 and the lowest is $0.28. For the next year, analysts expect that the company will report earnings of $1.51 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $1.48 to $1.54. Zacks Investment Research’s EPS calculations are a mean average based on a survey of sell-side research firms that cover Tucows.[419]

[edit] September 14, 2015: The Globe and Mail Does Feature Story on Tucows

Toronto based newspaper The Globe and Mail is one of Canada's leading newspapers and with a weekly readership of approximately 950,000 in 2011 is considered "Canada's National Newspaper," the most authoritative print news source in Canada. The Globe and Mail published a feature story on Tucows on September 14, 2015 which profiled Tucows and gathered views about the company's future from different sources.[420]

On the positive side, the newspaper quoted Cantor Fitzgerald's recent coverage of Tucows that “Ting Mobile is the current growth engine of the company,” said analyst Scott Curtis, who recently initiated coverage of Tucows with a “buy” and $36 (U.S.) a share target price. That’s more than 40 per cent above its current price, around $25 on the Nasdaq. “Ting Internet is the sexy growth opportunity." The newspaper quoted Cormark Securities analyst Hubert Mak who has a $34 target for Tucows. "We like Tucows for its defensive quality coming from its market-leading Internet domain registrar business that provides it with a steady cash flow stream,” Mr. Mak said in a note. “Further, we believe its new Ting business continues to show traction that is adding to its recurring revenue base.”

On the negative side, the newspaper said that while Tucows has done well and is diversifying in the right direction, some portfolio managers still see it as too small or too expensive right now to add to their funds. “It’s a nice little business,” said Darren Sissons, managing director at Portfolio Management Corp. “In the tech space you have to be clever and figure out where you need to go next.” Stephen Takacsy, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Lester Asset Management, said Tucows is generating good cash flow from its domain businesses but sees the new higher-growth Ting divisions as more risky and requiring more money for expansion. “The stock is ridiculously expensive,” Mr. Takacsy said, adding that Tucows is trading at 17 times forward earnings, which is above many of its peers in both the mobile and domain services sectors. “We are much more value driven. The Internet market isn’t somewhere we’re looking for investments, but they might do very well."[421]

[edit] August 25, 2015: Cantor Fitzgerald Initiates Coverage of Tucows with One-Year Price Target of $36

MFI reported on August 25, 2015 that brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald has initiated coverage of Tucows with a "Buy" rating and set a one year Price Target of $36 for shares of Tucows..[422] According to a post by investguy2000, Cantor Fitzgerald's investment thesis is based on Tucows' impressive leadership that has demonstrated their proven ability to grow in competitive markets; a stable business in domain names that delivers strong cash flow; growth and gross margin expansion in Ting Mobile; operating leverage from Ting's established customer interfacing platform that enhances infrastructure productivity; Tucows’ gigabit fiber initiative with a growing pipeline of opportunities; and a strong balance sheet and access to capital that will allow Tucows to aggressively pursue business development opportunities.

"Tucows’ share price has appreciated considerably over the last few years due to the rapid success of its Ting Mobile business; we continue to believe its mobile business will grow division sales at a pace greater than 50%. Ting Internet should begin to provide a material contribution in 2017 as its first two markets scale to a critical mass," says analyst Scott Curtis in his report on Tucows. "This 'get rich slow, for a long time' business behaves like a modern utility, providing recurring cash flow with high visibility." According to Cantor Fitzgerald their Discounted Cash Flow-based 12-month target of $36.00 implies 15x (2016E) and 12x (2017E) Expected Value/adjusted EBITDA using Cantor Fitzgerald's estimates.“Tucows,” writes Curtis, "is a growth story that is de-risked on many fronts.”[423][424]

Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. is a financial services firm founded in 1945 that specialises in institutional equity, fixed income sales and trading, and serving the middle market with investment banking services, prime brokerage, and commercial real estate financing. The firm is also active in new businesses including advisory and asset management services, gaming technology, e-commerce, and other ventures. It has more than 5,000 institutional clients and is one of 22 primary dealers authorized to trade U.S. government securities with The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Cantor Fitzgerald's 1,600 employees work in over 30 locations, including financial centers in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific, and the Middle East.[425]

[edit] August 24, 2015: Dr. Hedge writes in Seeking Alpha that Tucows Remains Materially Undervalued With Price Target Between $33 and $41

Anonymous contributor "Dr. Hedge" wrote in Seeking Alpha on August 24, 2015 that Tucows management recently raised EBITDA guidance 20% from $20 mil to $25 mil for 2015, that the quality and depth of Tucows' management team is unmatched with the company’s top 4-5 executives having served with the company for over a decade, that Tucows added 10,000 subscribers in Q2 despite having a marketing disruption for two months during the quarter, that Tucows is currently on pace to grow revenue approximately 20% and EBITDA 60% plus in 2015, and that given Tucows' organic growth profile and increasing profitability the stock remains materially undervalued. "Tucows is a defensive growth company with recurring revenue, strong free cash flow generation, and increasing profitability with an excellent management team and board of directors that exhibits strong corporate governance," writes Dr. Hedge. "The CEO is aligned with investors and continues to own 6.5% plus of the company. At today's price levels we believe the stock provides a compelling investment opportunity to long term investors who want to be a part of a disruptive company run by an outstanding management team."

Dr. Hedge writes that assuming, conservatively, that Tucows growth rate is cut in half in 2016, the company would still do approximately $3.15 per share in EBITDA in 2016. "On these numbers the stock trades at less than 8x EV/EBITDA, which for a company with increasing profitability and a long runway for growth we see as being materially undervalued. If the stock were to trade in line with other companies exhibiting similar growth trajectories as Tucows we believe the stock should receive at least an 11x multiple, if not 12-13x multiple. Under these assumptions the stock would be worth somewhere between $33 and $41, again, excluding any share repurchases."[426]

[edit] August 10, 2015: Zacks Upgrades Tucows to 'Strong Buy' with $28 Price Target

American Banking and Market News reported on August 10, 2015 that Zacks had upgraded Tucows from 'Hold' rating to 'Strong Buy' with a $28 price target for the stock. According to Zacks, “Tucows Inc. is a pioneering provider of personalized information agents and Web sites. They deliver information over the Internet and other communications mediums such as email. Their sites provide users with relevant information they cannot conveniently locate in any one place elsewhere on the Internet."[427]

[edit] August 7, 2015: Comark Securities Reiterates Tucows 'Buy' with $34 Price Target

Investguy2000 reported on August 7, 2015 that Comark has reiterated their 'Buy' rating for Tucows and increased their price target from $22 to $34. "We continue to like Tucows for its Ting Mobile that is providing the company with outsized growth which is starting to provide another growing recurring cash flow base in addition to its defensive domain registrar which had been the source to enabling this disciplined Management team to consistently return capital to shareholders. On top of this, the company is now pushing into fixed Internet which given the economics and Management’s successful track record to date will more than likely result in another solid recurring cash flow base."[428]

[edit] August 6, 2015: Hugh Pickens Predicts 12,000 Net Additional Ting Customers during Q2 2015

Just ahead of Tucows earnings release for Q2 2015 analyst Hugh Pickens predicted on August 6, 2015 that Ting will add 12,000 net additional customers for the second quarter, up from the 9,000 net additional customers during the first quarter of 2015. According to Pickens Ting added an average of 12,000 new customers during each of the four quarters in 2014 (Q1: 13,000, Q2: 12,000, Q3: 11,000, and Q4: 12,000) before dropping to 9,000 net adds during the first quarter of 2015.

"I believe the drop to 9,000 net adds in the first quarter was due to a one time event when Sprint changed their criteria for devices that were eligible to activate with Ting Mobile and other Sprint MVNO's on February 15, 2015," says Pickens. "I believe Ting will recover this quarter as Tucows moved rapidly to address the issue by identifying errors in Sprint's process leading to the number of rejections falling from 70% to 30% in just a few weeks." Pickens also notes that Tucows launched their GSM service on March 1, 2015 giving customers another option to activate devices. "We are looking for a solid second quarter with 12,000 net new Ting customers and 18,000 new devices bringing Ting to 115,000 active accounts and 181,000 active devices," says Pickens. "It will be especially interesting to see the breakdown between new Sprint adds and new customers from Ting's GSM offering."

Pickens says he expects revenue from Tucows domain services to be essentially flat this quarter and does not expect any significant contribution from Ting Internet until 2016. Pickens predicts that Tucows will maintain their guidance for Adjusted EBITDA at $20 million for 2015 and also thinks the favorable Canadian exchange rate will help Tucows meet its financial goals for the year. "The Canadian exchange rate over the past three months has been very favorable to Canadian based companies like Tucows," says Pickens. "It could add up to $1.5 million to EBITDA this year."

On May 7, 2015 Pickens predicted that Ting would have 8,000 net additional customers for Q1 2015. Tucows actual numbers released later that day came in at 9,000 net adds.

[edit] August 4, 2015: Bowser Report Provides Case Study of Tucows

Tim Rice wrote at the Bowser Report on August 4, 2015 that when they originally recommended Tucows in January 2013 it was trading for an adjusted price of $6. Since that recommendation "Ting took off. The business introduced its Android application in April 2013, began offering Tri-Band LTE service and devices in December 2013, added the iPhone 5 to its list of compatible devices in March 2014," writes Rice. "Access revenues grew from $3,965,684 in fiscal 2012 (right after recommendation) to $35,887,005 in fiscal 2015—growing 805%!"[429]

[edit] August 3, 2015: Short Seller Sonya Colberg Makes the Bearish Case Against Tucows, Sets $13 Price Target

Revealing in an "Important Disclaimer" at the end of her analysis that Streetsweeper holds a short position in TCX and stand to profit on a decline in Tucows' stock price, Streetsweeper Senior Editor Sonya Colberg wrote on August 3, 2015 that she thinks that Tucows' market valuation will drop well below the current $293 million and sets a $13 price target for TCX. Colberg, who according to her bio at Streetsweeper was once a reporter at the "recent Warren Buffet acquisition," the Tulsa World[430], (Buffet acquired the Tulsa World in 2013.[431] Colberg left the Tulsa World in 2000.[432]) gives four reasons she thinks Tucows’ stock price is ready to drop:

[edit] June 11, 2015: TheStreet Wire Highlights Tucows as "Under The Radar Stock Of The Day"

TheStreet Wire reported on Jun 11, 2015 that Trade-Ideas LLC identified Tucows ( TCX) as a strong and under the radar candidate. "The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, TUCOWS INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.54 versus $0.36 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.01 versus $0.54)."[434]

[edit] June 4, 2015: Hugh Pickens Writes That Ting’s High Growth and High Margins Are Fueling the Increase in Share Price

Hugh Pickens wrote a comment to Andrew Alleman's story at Domain Name Wire on June 4, 2015 that he agrees with Alleman's reason 3. "I think that investors are realizing that Tucows is no longer just a low growth/low margin domain name wholesaler," wrote Pickens. "They are realizing that with Ting’s high growth, high margins and increasingly significant contribution to the bottom line, Tucows is deserving of a higher P/E."[435]

[edit] June 4, 2015: Andrew Alleman Says Tucows' Stock is on Fire

Andrew Alleman wrote at Domain Name Wire on June 4, 2015 that if you bought shares of Tucows at the opening price one month ago, you’ve already realized a return of a whopping 57%. According to Alleman it’s not entirely clear what’s behind the surge but here are some possible reasons.[436]

1. Tucows buying back up to $20 million of its own stock on the open market.

2. Increased analyst coverage.

3. With the growth of Ting, Tucows is being valued as a technology company.

4. GoDaddy’s IPO has made people focus on other domain name companies.

5. A large player is growing its stake in the company.

[edit] May 8, 2015: Lucius Bossio Says Ting’s Q1 Subscriber Growth Suffers from Sprint’s New Unlocking Validation Process

Lucius Bossio wrote at Andriod Headlines on May 8, 2015 that CEO Elliot Noss reported that "an alarming 70% of devices that people were trying to activate on Ting were rejected following Sprint’s implementation of FED." According to Bossio, Ting is frustrated by the technical implementation of some of the required fixes, but are very happy Sprint is taking the issue very seriously as Noss noted that deactivating customers who owe the carrier a small amount of money from a long time ago may not be financially advantageous for Sprint.[437]

"Obviously the issues caused by Sprint’s FED had a significant impact on Ting’s ability to acquire new customers. Their support team quickly became overwhelmed by customers complaints, which prompted Ting to shut down all marketing and promotional activities until they could handle the increased burden placed on their support team. According to Noss, giving every prospective customer an outstanding level of service is an integral component of Ting’s strategy as this is how the company expects to attract and keep customers over the long-term; apparently Ting is just getting back to an acceptable level of service and conversion rate on their activation process."[438]

[edit] May 7, 2015: Hugh Pickens Predicts 8,000 Net Additional Ting Customers for Q1 2015

Just ahead of Tucows earnings release for Q1 2015 analyst Hugh Pickens predicted that Ting will have 8,000 net additional customers for the first quarter, down from the 11,000 net additional customers predicted on February 11, 2015 in the fourth quarter earnings conference. The numbers are predicated on an original scenario with 2% turnover in customers (2,650 customers) and a gross add of 13,650 customers necessary to reach 11,000 net adds. "I think the number of gross additional customers are going to be lower than expected," says Pickens, "because uncertainty caused by Sprint's new Financial Eligibility Date (FED) policy announced on March 3, 2015 is going to depress new customer acquisition."

"We slowed down to fix the issues that lead to this broken promise and to mitigate the risk of it happening again," wrote Andrew Moore-Crispin on the Tucows blog on April 7, 2015. "We stopped any initiatives to get new people in the door until we’re sure we’re meeting this promise once more. Very soon, we’ll be in a position to start turning the tap back on full blast, inviting and welcoming new people to Ting. We’re looking forward to looking forward."[439]

Pickens says he thinks uncertainty surrounding Sprint's FED depressed new customer adds to about 60% of normal gross adds from the period March 3 through April 7 when Tucows announced that things were getting back to normal and depressed new customer adds to 80% of the baseline during the final month of the quarter. "We believe new customers adds are now back to normal and may even increase going forward with the rollout of GSM coverage," says Pickens.

' Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Gross Adds - Churn Net Adds
Predicted Net Adds 4,550 4,550 4,550 13,650 2,650 11,000
Modified Net Adds 4,550 2,730 3,640 10,920 2,650 8,270

[edit] March 13, 2015: Analyst Sets 12-month Price Target for Tucows of $22

Intercooler reported on March 12, 2015 that the one broker that provide coverage for Tucows has rated the stock with a buy recommendation and set a 12-month consensus target price of $22.00 for the company. The analyst is predicting that the company will post $0.22 EPS for the current quarter.[440]

[edit] January 15, 2015: Max Lukenbach Writes: Social Media May Be Useful for Predicting Ting Intra-Quarter Subscriber Growth

Max Lukenbach wrote in Seeking Alpha on January 15, 2015 that Ting subscriber growth is a key component in determing Tucows valuation but since Tucows only discloses subscriber growth on a quarterly basis he has developed an alternative method to estimate growth through measuring Ting's visibility on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. "I have tracked Ting's social media growth against two of its primary peers, FreedomPop and Republic Wireless," writes Lukenbach. "I initially anticipated this to be a very casual endeavor, so that explains the limited number of MVNOs that I collected data for. I plan on adding a more MVNOs and will monitor a wider base going forward. With that said, I still argue that FreedomPop and Republic Wireless are useful and relevant comparisons."

Lukenbach's results show that Ting's Q3 to Q4 growth on Facebook was 32% compared to 13% for Freedompop and 2% for Republic Wireless. The corresponding growth on Twitter for Q3 to Q4 growth is 75% for Ting, 6% for Freedompop, and 3% for Republic. "This analysis demonstrates that Ting appeals to a younger/tech-savvy demographic, people are very happy with the product, and Ting's churn rate is likely to remain low. Furthermore, it illustrates that the company is proactive on social media, which is a low-cost and modern form of advertising."[441]

[edit] January 15, 2015: Hugh Pickens comments on Max Lukenbach's Methodology for Estimating Ting's Intra-Quarter Growth Rates

One of the problems for an investor in Tucows is that subscriber growth figures are only disclosed during the quarterly earnings conferences calls leaving investors in the dark outside these four times a year. This means that there are only four yearly opportunities for Tucows' investors to evaluate execution versus projections and there are only four opportunities for the growth figures to act as a catalyst on the stock valuation. Congratulations to Mr. Lukenbach for his insight that there may be a way for investors to gain some insight into subscriber growth on a more frequent basis and that there is probably a correlation between Ting social media mentions and subscriber growth. Thanks for compiling the data to date, and in developing a method that with more data and analysis will become very useful to investors in predicting Ting's intra-quarter subscriber growth. Mr. Lukenbach has provided a methodology that allows investors to make an informed estimate on subscriber growth between the quarterly conference calls. I look forward to Mr. Lukenbach gathering more data and to seeing how well social media mentions correlate with subscriber growth and churn.

I agree with Mr. Lukenbach that Tucows has been very astute in using social media as a cost effective way to publicize Ting and that this will probably have the most impact in reaching early adapters who are just the people people Ting needs to get the word out about their offering.

I am also looking forward to the rollout of the GSM offering and seeing what effect this will have on subscriber growth. I have the greatest respect for Elliot Noss' vision and his execution of Ting's growth plan and I hope that at some point he will begin providing Ting subscriber growth figures on a more frequent basis.[442]

[edit] December 23, 2014: MacroLion Writes: Ting's Profitable Growth Points To 30% Upside in Tucows Stock Price

MacroLion, a growth investor, wrote at Seeking Alpha on December 23, 2014 that:

"Taking Ting net customer growth as the key driver and assuming 50-150k customers range for 2015-17, we derive a target price of $20-29.," writes MacroLion. "It could be achieved in 1-1.5 years time when Ting's growth economics and trajectory are discussed in financial reports."[443]

[edit] December 23, 2014: Hugh Pickens Comments on MacroLion that He Has Come to Similar Conclusions

Hugh Pickens wrote a comment to the article in MacroLion on December 23, 2014.

Good Article. I've independently come to similar conclusions with my financial model of Ting at: http://tingmodel.com My takeaways from Tucows recent performance are that:

My model shows 146,000 Ting customers by 2015F under the 16k quarterly growth scenario and 161,000 Ting customers under the 18% quarterly growth scenario which is in line with your prediction of 143,000.

I had a previous concern that problems with the Sprint network could cause customers to leave Ting and that Sprint's poor reputation could provide a drag on Ting. However, Tucows recent announcement that they will be providing nationwide GSM service (probably through T Mobile although their partner has not yet been announced) mitigates that risk and should accelerate growth in Ting's customer base since Ting will be able to provide better coverage and start selling the iPhone 6 in February 2015.

My only real concern with Tucows at this point is with their recent decision to buy a majority stake in Blue Ridge InternetWorks and enter the independent Internet service provider business space. I am concerned that this might be a mis-step that may divert resources from their other two business lines and that Tucows might be better advised to concentrate on the MVNO business segment which by 2016F will become the primary profit center for the company.[444]

[edit] July 11, 2014: 'Undiscovered Stocks' Writes: Tucows Puts Its Customers And Shareholders First

Undiscovered Stocks, a private investor who tries to find microcap stocks that are growing and could get sell-side coverage and potential up listings as they continue to execute, wrote at Seeking Alpha on July 11, 2014 that Ting just passed the two-year mark, and has been accelerating customer adds while expanding margins at the same time. and as Ting begins to ramp considerably in the next year and beyond, the company will show significant flow-through to the bottom line.

Undiscovered Stocks writes that Ting's differentiators include:

According to Undiscovered Stocks, as Ting continues to become a bigger part of the revenue mix, "I expect EBITDA and cash flow to increase significantly." "Given the pace of Ting’s growth in customers, I believe that Ting will grow customers 100% in 2014, 70% in 2015, and 40% in 2016. As the operating leverage kicks in, Ting will double the overall company’s EBITDA by 2016."[445]

[edit] July 11, 2014: Hugh Pickens Writes: Elliot Noss Has Executed a Long Term Plan to Increase Stockholder Value

Hugh Pickens wrote at Seeking alpha on July 11, 2014 that Tucows CEO Elliot Noss has executed a long term plan to increase stockholder value with stock buy-backs, the reverse split, and capitalizing on Tucow's core competency in phone based customer service to enter the high growth MVNO business segment. "Noss has quadrupled Tucows' stock price since the beginning of 2012. At this point, I think there is limited downside potential given Tucows very stable and well run core business as a domain name wholesaler and a high probability of a substantial increase in the stock price within two years as we watch Tucows execute its Ting growth plan. Ting's use of social media to reduce customer acquisition cost is working to plan and Ting's infrastructure has gotten all the early bugs out and is now in place and ready to scale up for high annual subscriber growth."[446]

[edit] March 28, 2014: Mike Arnold Writes: "Tucows Is A Scrappy Tech Company Cannibalizing Itself"

Mike Arnold wrote at Seeking Alpha on March 28, 2014 that to ramp growth at Tucows, management recently introduced "what I believe is a game changing business called Ting which I believe will be a catalyst for increasing Tucows' valuation." According to Arnold, Ting appears to be catching on. "Revenues for Ting increased from $4 million in 2012 to $16.5 million in 2013, a 400%+ increase. There is plenty of tarmac for growth as well, considering the wireless communication sector is a multi-billion dollar industry and consumers are actively looking for ways to manage their monthly overhead."

Arnold says that once Ting is more established, one way to compare it might be to assess the lifetime value of the customer relationship to other subscription type businesses. "In this case, magicJack (CALL) might be a good proxy of value, as it operates in the same industry and is innovating both in terms of developing a disruptive telecommunications technology and unique value proposition for its customers. This, too, could prompt a re-rating in Tucows' shares."

Arnold concludes that at the current $140 million market cap, "I think there is little risk of permanent downside, and a rather good chance of Tucows becoming a meaningfully larger company if it executes its growth strategy (Ting) and returns value to shareholders in an accretive manner (buybacks)."[447]

[edit] Risk Factors

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993. The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows."
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] March 11, 2015: Ting Risk Factors From FY2014 10-K Filing With SEC

Tucows identified the following risk factors in their 10-K Filing With SEC for FY2014:[448]

[edit] December 15, 2014: Ting ISP Risks

Tucows' announcement on December 15, 2014 that they are acquiring 70% ownership of an independent Internet service provider to provide high speed Internet access, Internet hosting and network consulting services to over 3,000 customers in Central Virginia brings a new set of risks to Tucows.[449]

[edit] December 10, 2014: Ting MVNO Risk Mitigation

Ting's announcement on December 10, 2014 that they will be partnering with a second network provider (rumored to be T-Mobile) to provide nationwide GSM coverage goes a long way towards mitigating Ting's most serious business risks from having Sprint as Ting's sole source of network coverage and the perception of Sprint's poor coverage in some geographic areas.

[edit] March 18, 2014: Ting Risk Factors From FY2013 10-K Filing With SEC

Tucows identified the following risk factors in their 2013 Annual Report:[450]

Note: The Risk Factors in the 10-K Filing with the SEC for FY2014 on March 11, 2015 are identical to the Risk Factors for FY2013 except for the final factor which has been expanded from "Ting competes with Sprint’s products" to "Ting competes with our Network Operators’ products".

[edit] Insider Activity at Tucows

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993. The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows." In 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting provides its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel.
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] Introduction

According to Investopedia, insider trading is the buying or selling of a security by someone who has access to material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading is legal once the material information has been made public, at which time the insider has no direct advantage over other investors. The SEC requires all insiders to report all their transactions. So, as insiders have an insight into the workings of their company, it may be wise for an investor to look at these reports to see how insiders are legally trading their stock.[451]

See also:

[edit] September 5, 2016: Tucows Directors Sell Stock

Community Financial News reported on September 5, 2016 that Tucows Director Rawleigh Hazen Iv Ralls sold 50,000 shares of Tucows stock in a transaction dated September 6, 2016. The shares were sold at an average price of $27.46, for a total transaction of $1,373,000.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 281,575 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,732,049.50.

Tucows Director Erez Gissin sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1, 2016. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.25, for a total value of $272,500.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 7,300 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $198,925.[452]

[edit] November 20, 2015: Insider Activity by Tucows Officers and Board Members from March 5, 2015 through September 25, 2015

Following are insider transactions taken from SEC Filings made by officers and board members at Tucows since Tucows 10-K was filed on March 11, 2015:[453]

Tucows Officers and Directors Transaction Type Last Price Elliot Noss (CEO) Michael Cooperman (CFO) David Woroch (EVP, Sales and Support) Allen Karp (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Rawleigh Ralls (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Robin Chase (Director) Erez Gissin (Director) Joichi Ito (Director) Jeffrey Schwartz (Director) Carla Ann Goetz (EVP HR) Kenneth Derrick Schafer (EVP Retail) Michael Goldstein (VP Market- ing)
Shares Beneficially Owned per 10-K Filing on March 5, 2015 NA NA 764,833 325,831 173,250 69,375 513,750 4,375 50,000 13,750 60,625 21,275 25 12,913
March 6, 2015 Sell 19.00 -1,000
March 9, 2015 Sell 19.00 -1,000
March 13, 2015 Sell 19.11 -7,500
March 19, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.40 18,750
March 20, 2015 Sell 18.79 -18,000
March 27, 2015 Sell 19.08 -8,000
March 30, 2015 Sell 19.00 -10,100
March 31, 2015 Sell 19.04 -6,900
April 9, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.40 11,000
May 7, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.40 16,250
May 12, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.80 5,000
May 14, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.40 16,250
May 19, 2015 Sell 21.50 -16,250
May 20, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.40 16,250
May 22, 2015 Sell 24.48 -22,775
May 26, 2015 Sell 24.85 -2,225
May 27, 2015 Sell 26.43 -11,788
May 28, 2015 Sell 26.31 -15,812
May 29, 2015 Sell 27.07 -12,400
June 2, 2015 Sell 27.94 -10,000
June 16, 2015 Sell 28.66 -500
June 16, 2015 Sell 28.96 -14,455
June 17, 2015 Sell 28.90 -700
June 17, 2015 Sell 28.87 -8,250
June 17, 2015 Sell 28.85 -6,795
June 18, 2015 Sell 29.18 -3,000
June 22, 2015 Sell 35.20 -10,000
July 15, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.48 9,375
July 15, 2015 Execute Buy Option 8.92 7,500
August 19, 2015 Sell 25.52 -6,250
August 20, 2015 Sell 24.95 -50,000
August 24, 2015 Sell 22.29 -18,750
September 3, 2015 Execute Buy Option 2.48 5,000
September 11, 2015 Sell 25.06 -30,279
September 25, 2015 Sell 24.21 -2,000
November 13, 2015 Sell 25.17 -499
November 17, 2015 Sell 24.72 -1,400
November 20, 2015 Sell 24.50 -34,632
Net Activity Since 10-K Filing on March 18, 2015 NA NA -39,000 -55,560 12,250 -10,625 -106,250 0 -13,750 1,250 0 -1,750 0 -12,450

[edit] Notes

1. Taken from Tucows 10-K filing on March 11, 2015.

2. Includes an aggregate of 124,036 shares of common stock that are held in Mr Noss’s RRSP accounts. Includes 564,951 shares of Common Stock that are subject to a loan and pledge arrangement entered into by Mr. Noss in order to satisfy the required Canadian taxes and exercise price due in connection with the exercise of expiring options.

3. Includes 37,188 shares of common stock that are held in Mr. Cooperman’s RRSP account.

4. Includes 53,984 shares of common stock that are held in Mr. Woroch’s RRSP account and 10,750 shares of common stock held in his wife’s RRSP account.

5. Includes 5,000 shares of common stock that are held directly by Mr. Karp’s wife.

6. Of these shares, 56,250 shares are held in Mr. Ralls’ IRA account, 6,250 shares are held in Mrs. Ralls’ IRA account and 40,000 are held by Mrs. Ralls directly.

7. The sale price of 35.20 for 10,000 shares of TCX sold by Allen Karp on June 22, 2015 is taken from the SEC Filing and is believed to be in error. The highest trade on June 22, 2015 TCX was 32.00 and as of August 17, 2015 TCX has never traded over 32.23.[454]

[edit] March 5, 2015: Insider Activity by Tucows Officers and Board Members from March 18, 2014 through March 5, 2015

Following are insider transactions taken from SEC Filings made by officers and board members at Tucows since Tucows 10-K was filed on March 18, 2014:[455][456][457]

Tucows Officers and Directors Transaction Type Last Price Elliot Noss (CEO) Michael Cooperman (CFO) David Woroch (EVP, Sales and Support) Allen Karp (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Rawleigh Ralls (Co-Chair Board of Directors) Robin Chase (Director) Erez Gissin (Director) Joichi Ito (Director) Jeffrey Schwartz (Director) Lloyd Morrisett (Director)
Shares Beneficially Owned per 10-K Filing on March 18, 2014 NA NA 754,521 318,644 166,063 65,625 945,000 NA 42,500 10,000 56,875 44,375
April 3, 2014 Execute Buy Option 1.52 6,250
May 27, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.24 9,375
July 3, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.24 9,375
July 11, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.32 37,500
August 6, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.32 15,000
August 12, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.24 5,000
August 20, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.24 9,375
September 3, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.24 5,000
December 5, 2014 Acquisition (Non Open Market) 0.00 384,361
December 5, 2014 Disposition (Non Open Market) 0.00 -695,167
December 12, 2014 Acquisition (Non Open Market) 0.00 43,461
December 12, 2014 Acquisition (Non Open Market) 0.00 7
December 12, 2014 Disposition (Non Open Market) 0.00 -154,833
December 19, 2014 Execute Buy Option 2.40 4,000
January 7, 2015 Sell 18.50 -3,461
January 7, 2015 Sell 18.50 -9,368
February 26, 2015 Acquisition (Non Open Market) 18.77 1,000
February 26, 2015 Disposition (Non Open Market) 18.77 -1,000
Net Activity through March 5, 2015 4,000 37,500 15,000 20,625 -435,000 0 5,000 0 9,375 9,375
Sum of Shares Beneficially Owned per 10-Q Filing on March 18, 2014 plus Net Activity for the Year 758,521 356,144 181,063 86,250 510,000 0 47,500 10,000 66,250 53,750
Shares Beneficially Owned per 10-K Filing on March 5, 2015 NA NA 764,833 325,831 173,250 69,375 513,750 4,375 50,000 13,750 60,625 NA

[edit] Notes

1. Taken from Tucows 10-K filing on March 18, 2014.[458]

2. Based on 11,185,384 shares outstanding as of March 17, 2013, adjusted for shares of common stock beneficially owned but not yet issued.

3. Includes an aggregate of 124,036 shares of common stock that are held in Mr Noss’s RRSP accounts. Includes 564,951 shares of Common Stock that are subject to a loan and pledge arrangement entered into by Mr. Noss in order to satisfy the required Canadian taxes and exercise price due in connection with the exercise of expiring options.

4. Includes 37,188 shares of common stock that are held in Mr. Cooperman’s RRSP account.

5. Includes 53,984 shares of common stock that are held in Mr. Woroch’s RRSP account and 10,750 shares of common stock held in his wife’s RRSP account.

6. Includes 5,000 shares of common stock that are held directly by Mr. Karp’s wife.

7. Includes an aggregate of 850,000 shares of common stock that are indirectly owned by Mr. Ralls. Of these shares, 56,250 shares are held in Mr. Ralls’ IRA account, 6,250 shares are held in Mrs Ralls’ IRA account and 850,000 are held by Lacuna Hedge Fund LLLP (“Lacuna Hedge”) and are indirectly owned by Lacuna, LLC (“Lacuna LLC”) and Lacuna Hedge GP LLLP (“Lacuna Hedge GP”). Lacuna LLC is the sole general partner of Lacuna Hedge GP, which is the sole general partner of Lacuna Hedge. Neither Lacuna LLC nor Lacuna Hedge GP directly owns any securities of the Company. Each of Lacuna LLC and Lacuna Hedge GP disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares held by Lacuna Hedge, except to the extent of its pecuniary interest therein. Mr. Ralls is a member of Lacuna LLC. Mr. Ralls disclaims beneficial ownership of the shares held by Lacuna Hedge, except to the extent of his pecuniary interest therein.

8. Includes 12,500 shares of common stock that are owned jointly by Dr. Morrisett and his wife.

[edit] Comparison With Other MVNOs

It is always useful to compare a company to another company in the same business space. Tucows is, to our knowledge, the only MVNO that is part of a publicly traded company for which subscriber information, acquisition costs, chrun, and gross margins are available. However, there are other MVNOs for which some subscriber information is available:

[edit] FreedomPop

FreedomPop is a free wireless internet and mobile phone service provider based in Los Angeles, California. The company provides wireless data voice and text services for Clearwire and Sprint. FreedomPop sells mobile phones, tablets and broadband devices for use with their service. FreedomPop was co-founded by Stephen Stokols, CEO and Steven Sesar in 2011. Prior to founding FreedomPop, Stokols served as CEO of Woo Media, a video-chat and entertainment startup. FreedomPop partnered with Lightsquared in December 2011, but ended its partnership after Lightsquared did not receive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval to build out its network. FreedomPop began selling its first smartphones in October 2012. That month the company converted 5% of its free users to paid users. The following month, in November, the number of converted users increased to 10%. FreedomPop also began offering mobile and wireless internet services in the United States using Clearwire's 4G network. FreedomPop converted 20% of its free user base to paid users in December 2012.[459]

In April 2013, FreedomPop partnered with Sprint to expand its coverage to include 3G and 4G with Sprint compatible devices. In October 2013, one year from its initial wireless broadband launch, FreedomPop launched its beta free mobile phone plan that included voice, text, and data service. In November FreedomPop launched a bring your own device for Sprint-compatible phones.[460]

[edit] Sprint Acquisition of FreedomPop

Josh Ong reported on The Next Web on May 14, 2014 that FreedomPop was on track to hit 250,000 total subscribers. According to FreedomPop, over 60 percent of its phone customers stick to the free plan and don’t spend anything for service. This would mean that FreedomPop had 100,000 paying customers in May, 2014. According to Ong FreedomPop added 100,000 customers in the previous year. Using this figure and the 40% rate, this would mean that FreedomPop has about 120,000 paying customers at the time this comparison is being made in December, 2014.[461]

John Shinal reported in USA Today on November 12, 2014 that according to two sources Sprint was in talks with FreedomPop about a possible acquisition that could boost Sprint's revenue growth and lower its subscriber-acquisition costs. "The talks are fluid, meaning they could lead to an investment, an acquisition or no deal between the companies," writes Shinal. "Other suitors have emerged for FreedomPop, among them a large U.S. technology company and a smaller wireless carrier, according to the sources who are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter." According to Shinal an acquisition would likely value all of FreedomPop in a range between $250 million and $450 million, while an investment would value it closer to $200 million.[462]

Kevin Richard reported at GigaOm on November 12, 2014 that FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said parts if not all of the report are false adding that while FreedomPop is in formal talks with “a few” companies about a potential acquisition, Sprint is not one of them. “We’ve gotten several inquiries on the M&A side, but nothing official from Sprint,” said Stokols.[463]

[edit] Valuation of FreedomPop

Dividing FreedomPop's paying customer base of 120,000 into the company's valuation range of $200 to $450 million, the value per customer is in the range of $1,660 to $3,750. Applying the same valuation per paying customer to Ting's 82,000 paying customers at the end of the third quarter in 2014 results in a valuation in the range from $136 to $307 million. Tucows domain services must be added for a total company valuation. Using Tucows stock price of $3.00 per share on December 30, 2011 before Ting was publicly announced times 11.3 million outstanding shares, provides a value of Tucows domain services of about $33 million. This gives Tucows a total valuation of between $170 and $341 million. Using the $18 stock price on December 1, 2014 times 11.3 million shares gives Tucows a market cap of $203 million putting The company at the low to mid range of its valuation if it were to become a target for acquisition.

[edit] Virgin Mobile

NBC News reported on July 28, 2009 that Sprint Nextel Corp. had made a $483 million deal to buy Virgin Mobile USA Inc. Sprint paid $5.50 in stock for each Virgin Mobile share. Sprint already owned 13.1 percent of Virgin Mobile, which uses Sprint's network to offer service. Virgin Mobile had 5.2 million subscribers who paid an average of $20 per month. Sprint has 49.1 million subscribers, including those using the network through wholesalers like Virgin Mobile.[464]

"This is a good transaction for Sprint, which already owns 13 percent of Virgin, because it provides 5 million customers which are already using its own network. This more than doubles the size of Sprint's prepaid business overnight and increases its distribution channels quickly for prepaid where it has had recent success with Boost Unlimited," wrote Walter Piecyk of Pali Research, noting that the transaction values each Virgin subscriber at $130, which the firm said is slightly above what it costs Virgin Mobile to acquire a customer.[465]

"We believe Virgin Mobile felt compelled to sell because its customer base was declining, the prepaid space is getting much more competitive and it faced a $100 million debt maturity at the end of next year that we do not believe it had enough free cash flow to pay-off," Piecyk wrote. "Virgin was selling an uncompetitive unlimited offering right next to Boost Unlimited in its own stores which we believe will either be terminated or brought to parity with Boost Unlimited. We think it's more likely that Virgin terminates its unlimited offerings and returns its focus to its legacy pay as you go model."[466]

[edit] Board of Directors of Tucows

According to the 10-K filed with the SEC on March 11, 2015 the folowing are members of Tucows Board of Directors:[467]

[edit] Allen Karp

Co-Chairman of the Board since September 2012 and Director since October 2005

Mr. Karp, 74, was with Cineplex Odeon Corporation in various positions since 1986, where he retired as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2002 and as Chairman Emeritus in 2005. From 1966 to 1986, he practiced law at the law firm of Goodman and Carr LLP, where he was named partner in 1970. Mr. Karp was until recently a Director of Brookfield Real Estate Services Inc., the Chair of its corporate governance committee and sat on the audit committee, and was Chairman of the Board of Directors of IBI Group Inc., and was Chairman of the Nominating, Governance and Compensation Committee. Mr. Karp is a past director of the Toronto International Film Festival Group, where he served as Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2007 and has served as Chairman of its Corporate Governance Committee since 2007. Additionally, Mr. Karp was previously a director of several other public corporations.

Mr. Karp has extensive executive leadership skills, long-standing senior management experience, a strong ethics and compliance focus and audit committee experience. These skills and qualifications, in addition to his current service on the boards of directors of other public companies, enable him to bring valuable perspectives to our Board, particularly with respect to corporate governance matters, and qualify him to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Rawleigh H. Ralls

Co-Chairman of the Board since September 2012 and Director since May 2009

Mr. Ralls, 52, is a founding partner of Lacuna, LLC, an investment management company focused on both public and private companies, which he formed in October 2006. Prior thereto, from 1999 to 2006, he was Chairman of Netidentity.com, an Internet email and web hosting company, where he led corporate strategy and development until the firm’s sale in 2006. Mr. Ralls currently serves on the Board of Directors of a number of companies, including Savoya, LLC, IntraOp Medical, Knowledge Factor, and Mocapay, Inc.

Mr. Ralls has a wealth of industry experience, most notably the experience that he gained through his leadership of Netidentity.com. In addition, Mr. Ralls contributes a unique perspective to the Board’s discussions and considerations based on the two decades of investing and portfolio management experience. All of these attributes qualify Mr. Ralls to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Erez Gissin

Director since August 2001

Mr. Gissin, 56, has served since 2010 as a managing partner in Helios Energy Investment, a Renewable Energy investment fund, and since 2005 as the Chief Executive Officer of BCID Ltd., an investment company focusing on infrastructure development projects in China. From July 2000 to March 2005, Mr. Gissin has served as the Chief Executive Officer of IP Planet Networks Ltd., an Israeli satellite communication operator providing Internet backbone connectivity and solutions to Internet Service Providers. From July 1995 to July 2000, Mr. Gissin was Vice President, Business Development of Eurocom Communications Ltd., a holding company that controls several telecommunications services, equipment and Internet companies in Israel.

Mr. Gissin has a strong background in the internet communications industry and has gained significant institutional knowledge in his long tenure as one of our directors. Mr. Gissin also has significant leadership experience as the Chief Executive Officer of BCID Ltd. and IP Planet Networks Ltd. and has extensive financial acumen derived from his years of executive experience. All of these qualities qualify Mr. Gissin to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Joichi Ito

Director since December 2008

Mr. Ito, 48, is the director of the MIT Media Lab. He is a co-founder of Digital Garage (Tokyo Stock Exchange 4819), where he has served on the board since September 2006. Mr. Ito has been a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Times Corporation since June 2012 and of Sony Corporation since June 2013.

From June 2002 until July 2008, Mr. Ito served on the board of Pia Corporation, a ticket and entertainment magazine company in Japan (Tokyo Stock Exchange 4337). He served on the board of ICANN, a U.S. non-profit corporation, from December 2004 until December 2007. ICANN manages the domain name registration system that Tucows uses for its domain name business and ICANN receives fees from Tucows for domain name registrations.

Mr. Ito is also on the board of directors of a number of non-profit organizations, including The Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and The Mozilla Foundation. He has created numerous Internet companies, including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan and was an early stage investor in Twitter, Six Apart, Flickr, Dopplr, Last.fm, Kickstarter, Formlabs and littleBits. He has served and continues to serve on various Japanese central as well as local government committees and boards, advising the government on IT, privacy and computer security related issues.

Mr. Ito has extensive experience as a director of a number of publicly traded companies and has a wide range of experience with internet companies generally. This experience, along with Mr. Ito’s domain specific knowledge, enables him to bring key experience to the Company and qualifies him to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Elliot Noss

Director since August 2001

Mr. Noss, 52, is our President and Chief Executive Officer and has served in such capacity since the completion of our merger with Tucows Delaware in August 2001. From May 1999 until completion of the merger in August 2001, Mr. Noss served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tucows Delaware. Before that, from April 1997 to May 1999, Mr. Noss served as Vice President of Corporate Services of Tucows Interactive Ltd., which was acquired by Tucows Delaware in May 1999.

Mr. Noss’s lengthy service as our Chief Executive Officer has provided him with extensive knowledge of, and experience with, Tucows’ operations, strategy and financial position. In addition, Mr. Noss has widespread knowledge of the internet and software industry generally that, coupled with his operational expertise, qualifies him to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Jeffrey Schwartz

Director since June 2005

Mr. Schwartz, 52, has served as a director of Dorel Industries since 1987 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2003. Mr. Schwartz is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal and has a degree in the field of business administration.

Mr. Schwartz has a significant amount of public-company financial expertise, particularly in his executive experience as the chief financial officer of Dorel Industries, Inc. This executive experience, along with Mr. Schwartz’s service as one of our Audit Committee members (and as Chairman of our Audit Committee since 2005), qualifies him to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Robin Chase

Director since October 2014

Ms Chase, 56, is a transportation entrepreneur. She is founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the largest car sharing company in the world; Buzzcar, a service that brings together car owners and drivers in a car sharing marketplace in France; and GoLoco, an online ridesharing community. She is also Executive Chairman of Veniam, a vehicle communications company building the networking fabric for the Internet of Moving Things.

Ms Chase is on the Boards of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the World Resources Institute, and Tucows. She also served on the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, the Intelligent Transportations Systems Program Advisory Committee for the US Department of Transportation, the OECD’s International Transport Forum Advisory Board the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation Transition Working Group, and Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force.

Ms Chase lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment, including Time 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company Fast 50 Innovators, and BusinessWeek Top 10 Designers. Robin graduated from Wellesley College and MIT's Sloan School of Management, was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, and received an honorary Doctorate of Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Her experience operating companies at the CEO level along with her numerous experiences on these boards and councils qualify her to be a director of Tucows.

[edit] Principal Shareholders of Tucows

According to the 10-K filed with the SEC on March 11, 2015 the folowing are principal shareholders of Tucows:[468]

[edit] Osmium Partners, LLC

960,269 Shares

8.7%

300 Drakes Landing Road, Suite 172, Greenbrae, CA 94904

[edit] Renaissance Technologies LLC

615,135 Shares

5.5%

800 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022

[edit] Elliot Noss

764,833 Shares

6.9%

96 Mowat Avenue, Toronto, ON M6K 3M1

[edit] Tucows Financial Statements

In 2012, Tucows launched Ting, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Ting provides its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel.
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:

[edit] Tucows News

[edit] Financials and Earnings Reports Overview

[edit] Tucows 10-K Filing with SEC

[edit] Earnings Results

[edit] Tucows Quarterly Consolidated Balance Sheets

[edit] Transcripts of Earnings Conferences Referenced in This Document

[edit] Investor Videos

[edit] Ting Blog

[edit] Tucows Price History

[edit] Insider Activity at Tucows

[edit] Short Interest in Tucows

[edit] Put/Call Ratio for TCX

[edit] Latest TCX Quote

[edit] History of Ting

[edit] Competitive Analysis

[edit] Google Fiber

[edit] Canadian Dollar

[edit] Twitter Search for Tucows

[edit] Tools

[edit] Archive of Previous Versions of This Article

[edit] Other Stocks I Invest in and Monitor

[edit] References

Tucows Inc. is an Internet services and telecommunications company, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is one of the largest domain registrars and operates Hover, a webhosting service, and OpenSRS, a platform for domain resellers. The company was formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1993. The Tucows logo is two cow heads, a play on the homophone "two cows."
This web site is not affiliated in any way with Tucows. This web site is operated by a private investor who owns stock in Tucows and is interested in following the company. Nothing in this report is to be taken as a recommendation to buy or to sell stock in Tucows.

Other sections of this report on Tucows include:










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