Mobile operators get very little love from their customers. We moan about how much our price plans cost; we complain about how the signal keeps dropping; we whine endlessly about unreasonable data caps. Carriers are a pain in the proverbial for the majority of us, and most of the time, it's hard to find anything good to say about them.
It might be a bit much to expect customers to ever have any real affection for their mobile network, but a new carrier that launched today in the UK hopes to at least promote a bit of good will among its users, as it promises them "a great mobile deal" while at the same time donating 25% of its profits to good causes, as well as 10% of revenue from all call, text and data expenditure.
The People's Operator (TPO) offers multiple opportunities for charities, community groups and other good causes to benefit from their service. Customers can choose a good cause that will receive 10% of what they spend on calls, texts and data with the new carrier; additionally, organisations themselves can sign up new users to TPO to automatically net 10% of those customers' expenditures. TPO will also donate 25% of its profits to a broad range of good causes, including the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), The Trussell Trust (which focuses on poverty-related activities, including foodbank donations) and Regenerate (an initiative to help disadvantaged communities to thrive 'from the inside out').
Being a virtual operator means that TPO doesn't own or manage its own network infrastructure; instead, it will run on the EE network (an amalgamation of the T-Mobile and Orange networks in the UK). There will be no 4G service available on TPO for now, but Engadget reports that it's expected to come a bit later.
TPO's pricing is competitive with some of the big networks' basic pay-as-you-go offerings, with calls for 12.5p per minute (half the cost of O2, Vodafone and Orange, for example), while texts are cheaper too. But stacked up against the likes of giffgaff - which offers 250 minutes of talktime, unlimited texts and unlimited data for just £12 per month - TPO's prices start to look less appealing. Data is a particular problem for TPO, which charges 12.5p per megabyte for now; even its new data bundles coming next month won't soften the blow much, topping out at £17.50 for a maximum of 500MB.
But if you're a light data user, and you fancy the idea of giving something back while you chat and text, perhaps TPO will be the right choice for you.