New UK mobile network The People’s Operator to give 25 percent of profits to charity

November 19, 2012
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    Here’s an interesting bid for your custom. A new mobile network is set to launch in the UK today and its USP is support for charity. The People’s Operator or TPO is billing itself as an ethical alternative to the crowd. Will that be enough to allow it to muscle into the competitive UK market?

    The basic idea is that 25 percent of TPO’s profits will go into a special foundation and it will allocate funds to good causes that support local communities. Charities will be able to apply to the foundation for funds to support specific projects and funds will be awarded to causes deemed worthy. Customers of TPO will also be able to specify that 10 percent of their calls, text and data spend goes to a cause of their choosing. Cleverly, that 10 percent can also be collected by any charitable organization that helps to sign up any customer to TPO.

    The People’s Operator will be set up as a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO, which simply means it will be using EE’s network infrastructure. It’s starting off as a pay-as-you-go service, but there are plans to offer SIM-only contracts starting next year. Customers will be able to buy bundles of call minutes along with a text and data allowance. Calls and texts that are from TPO customers to TPO customers will be free. Launch costs on pay-as-you-go are 12.5p per minute for calls, 7.5p per text message, and 12.5p per Mb for data.

    This is a real marriage of commerce and charity. The company does intend to generate a healthy profit, but the commitment to charity is more than a gimmick to attract custom. At least one of the founders has a background working with not-for-profit organizations and TPO has partnered with Childline and NSPCC already.

    Could this be a win-win situation with charities gaining some extra income and TPO gaining a foothold in a tough market? Chairman Andrew Rosenfeld told The Next Web, “We don’t see ourselves as a niche player – we see ourselves as a commercial operator first,” and went on to say, “The more money we make, the more money can be given to good causes.”

    What do you think? Would this entice you to sign up? The pricing is competitive, EE’s network is solid, and the charity donation is a strong differentiator in a crowded market. We can see this taking off.

    It’s not the first company to offer this kind of deal. In fact, Belgian operator, Ello Mobile, goes a lot further by offering 100 percent of its profits to charity.

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