series of comprehensive US prepaid mobile operator profiles. These profiles cover all the major US mobile operators' prepaid plans as well as MVNOs which offer a good value.
Overview: UK based The People's Operator (TPO for short) launched in the US in July, 2015. It's an MVNO that offers service on Sprint and on an unnamed GSM network that is obviously T-Mobile based on coverage and APN settings. TPO's chairman is Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.
TPO donates 10% of plan prices and 25% of profits to charities including the World Wildlife Federation, Save the Children, SPCA, American Lung Association, Habitat For Humanity, the Wounded Warrior Project and others. Customers can choose which charities they would like their contribution to go to. The 10% of your TPO bill that goes to charities is tax-deductible.
TPO's GSM plans use the T-Mobile network which offers voice and GPRS, Edge and UTMS service on the 1900 Mhz band and LTE in bands 2, 4 and 12.
TPO's CDMA plans use Sprint's network which runs voice, 1xRTT and EVDO data on the 800 Mhz and 1900 Mhz bands and LTE on bands 25, 26 and 41.
Plans: TPO pricing is the same for GSM or CDMA. The following domestic phone plans are available:
- Kind Plan - 1000 minutes of talk, unlimited text, 500 MB data for $21/month ($16 with autopay).
- People's Plan - unlimited talk and text, 1 GB data for $30/month ($25 with autopay).
- Noble Plan - unlimited talk and text, 2 GB data for $33/month ($28 with autopay).
- Caring Plan - unlimited talk and text, 3 GB data for $40/month ($35 with autopay).
- Hero Plan - unlimited talk and text, 5 GB data for $55/month ($40 with autopay).
- Tablet Plan - 2GB of data $25/month ($20 with autopay)
- North America Plan - unlimited talk and text from the US to the US, Mexico and Canada and 2.5 GB of data for $44/month ($39 with autopay).
$10/month Global Goodness Unlimited: includes unlimited calls to landlines in 79 countries and to mobile numbers in 37 as well as discounted rates to 220 countries.
$15/month Global Extra Goodness Unlimited: includes all the features of Global Goodness Unlimited plus additional minutes to one and only one of the following countries: Costa Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Peru, Philippines or Venezuela.
Taxes and fees: CPO charges applicable state and local taxes and also passes through some telecom fees such as the Federal Universal Services Fee. Users report that taxes and fees add between 11% and 30% to plan prices.
Add on minutes, texts or data: Not available. If you run out of minutes, texts or data the only way to get more is by upgrading to a more expensive plan.
International Roaming: TPO does not offer international roaming.
SMS Short Codes: texting to and from short codes is supported.
Coverage: TPO uses the T-Mobile native network for GSM service and the Sprint native network for CDMA service. Off network roaming is not available. TPO doesn't have a coverage map on their site, but you can check the availability of CDMA or GSM service in a given zip code using their Coverage Checker. Or use the GoSmart map to check GSM coverage or the Virgin Mobile map for CDMA coverage.
Devices: TPO sells phones through a TPO branded online store operated by Quality One Wireless. A variety of phones are available including the latest iPhones and Android flagships at competitive prices.
BYOP: You can bring your own Sprint, T-Mobile or unlocked GSM phone to TPO. GSM SIMs are free, CDMA SIMs are $6.99.
How to Activate: Activate online at store.tpo.com or by calling 844-876-8326 from another phone. Activation is free.
GSM Data Settings:
Leave other fields at their default values.
CDMA Data Settings:
CDMA phones should automatically configure themselves when you turn them off and on after activating the phone with TPO online.
If that doesn't work perform a network reset by:
iPhones: dial ##873283#
Most Android phones and feature phones : dial ##72786#
Nexus phones: dial *#*#72786#*#*
If prompted for a passcode enter your phone's six digit MSL which is available from TPO support.
Payment Options: TPO accepts credit or debit cards and Paypal. Auto pay is available and there's a $5/month discount for using auto-pay.
Account expiration: plans automatically renew every month. If your account has insufficient funds to renew or your auto-payment fails your service will be suspended.
Account Management: TPO offers an online dashboard called MY TPO Guide that lets you track usage, purchase add-ons, top-up your account, select a charity, change your payment method and change plans. Plan changes take effect immediately.
Tethering and Hotspot: Using your phone as a modem or WiFi hotspot is prohibited by TPO's Terms and Conditions.
Call Forwarding: not supported
Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling
Call waiting: Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail. You will be billed for both calls.
To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."
3-Way Calling: To add a second person while on a call press SEND and dial the new number or choose it from contacts. When the other party answers press SEND to join the two calls.
*#06# displays the phone's IMEI (serial number)
Free information services calls
611 - TPO Mobile customer care
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services
Phone support: : 844-876-8326 available 9 AM - 7 PM ET M-F, 9 AM - 6 PM ET S-S.
Email support: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Phone Sales and General Information Web Site: store.tpo.com/
TPO Pros: Competitive pricing, US based support, charitable giving, BYOP, online usage records.
TPO Cons: Hotspot and call forwarding not available, limited Sprint or T-Mobile native coverage, taxes and fees are higher than traditional prepaid operators.
Updated 2-Sept-2016: plan changes and price increases