There is now a wireless service provider that allows you to make a socially responsible call without even dialing your smartphone number.
The People’s Operator, a virtual mobile network operator that launches in the United States on Tuesday, is donating 10% of customers’ monthly bills to a designated charity. TPO, which has provided wireless services in the UK since November 2012, also donates 25% of its profits to causes.
Mobile bandwidth is leased over Sprint’s national 4G LTE network for connectivity. The business depends on the viral growth of its customer base and spends little on marketing. “Our prices are really good and the way we can afford it is to get rid of the TV ads, the radio, the billboards, the magazine ads, all the ways that the phone companies are spending big bucks on it. marketing and we ask people to get the word out through viral word of mouth, ”said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, who joined TPO in January 2014 and is the chairman of the company.
TPO takes its charitable activity to another level with an online community and social network which also launches on Tuesday the the website. Aiming to connect people and charities, the site features news about charities, as well as opportunities to donate and get involved in causes.
Charities already involved in TPO include Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, The Wounded Warrior Project, World Wildlife Fund, Save the Children, WaterAid, Pencils of Promise, and Kiva. TPO does not take a commission on donations and gives all donations directly to the charity, Wales said.
“TPO is a place where causes can come and fundraise, and it won’t cost them anything,” he said. “For us, it’s just about getting as many people as possible on the platform, and then, while they are, we hope they will subscribe to phone service.”
The carrier’s prepaid monthly plans range from $ 9 to $ 89, including one with unlimited calling and texting with 3 gigabytes of data ($ 39). Each plan can add additional data at $ 15 per 1 GB. By comparison, Sprint’s 3 GB / unlimited calling and texting plan is $ 45. TPO’s unlimited monthly calling and texting plans are $ 32 to $ 86, from 2 GB of data and up to 13 GB; Sprint’s unlimited calling, texting and data plans start at $ 60.
For tablets, TPO offers a 2 GB prepaid $ 29 plan and a 3 GB monthly plan at $ 35.
Customers can switch to the network with an unlocked device or choose to purchase or lease a device. They can transfer their current mobile number for free and do not need to sign an annual contract. There is no credit check or activation fee (no deposit required for prepaid plans).
Devices sold and leased by TPO include those from Apple, Samsung, HTC and LG. Unlocked devices can also be used after you have fulfilled your contract with another operator.
TPO co-founder and CEO Mark Epstein said the company was impressed with Sprint’s service in key markets.
“We think Sprint is going through a real program transformation,” he said. “We think we’re getting Sprint at a good time, actually.”
So far, the provider has 30,000 subscribers, but half of TPO’s growth has come since the start of the year.
“We are already seeing viral growth,” said Wales, who had led the design of the site. “Now we really hope to accelerate this with the social network. … The whole point of this is to do good, to raise money for causes. “
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider