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Prepaid Operator Profile: The People's Operator (TPO)

This is one in a series of Prepaid Phone News' 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.

Technology: 
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).
Other plans:
  • 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).
International Rates: TPO offers pay per minute international calling on all plans.  Sample rates per minute for mobile or landline calls: Canada 10¢ (free on NA Plan), China 10¢, Mexico 20¢ (free on NA Plan), Philippines 20¢, United Kingdom 10-40¢. Click here for a complete list.

International Add-ons:
$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:
APN: wholesale
MMSC: http://wholesale.mmsmvno.com/mms/wapenc
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.

"Secret" Codes:
*#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
Other 3 digit codes like 211, 311 and 511 are not free on TPO.

Customer Service:
Phone support: : 844-876-8326 available 9 AM - 7 PM ET M-F,  9 AM - 6 PM ET S-S.
Email support: supportus@tpo.com
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

34 comments:

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  1. Poor customer service. Data didn't work despite all APN settings and configuration (only works on LTE bands, not regular 4G). No refunds or prorated refund if you are not satisfied.

    ReplyDelete
  2. TPO quoted me $9.00 off the $25.00 plan. That's a 36% tax. Maybe I need to move out of CA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The maximum MTS tax rate in California is 23% in San Francisco. TPO must be adding 13% or more in corporate telecom tax pass-throughs and fees.

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    2. My local tax is 18.26 so when they told me $9.00 I was very surprised because it was far more than I had calculated.

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  3. They also don't have online dealers to get a tax break when ordering online. They do have an option on their website for dealer sign up but I'm sure their commissions must not be that good. I'm not aware of any online dealers selling TPO and was actually told by customer service they don't have online dealers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Spell check, please.

    momth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spell check for what? Article? Answers? User? If you are gonna point something please take the time to be more specific. Copy, paste and quote context so the writer can fix mistake if possible.

      Delete
    2. The OP told me what word was misspelled. That's all I needed and it's fixed.

      Delete
  5. On my phone I had to set APN Protocol to IPv4/IPv6 to get data to work with TPO.

    ReplyDelete
  6. More additions:

    - They support texting to/from short codes

    - They offer 2 international calling addons:
    - $10 unlimited to 79+ countries landlines and 30+ countries mobile
    - $15 the above plus minutes to another country choice

    - Creating an account on their page allows viewing minutes, texts, data used; only totals, no usage details.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If their plans could be purchased through online dealers in order to avoid the tax, it could be a good deal. I think the tax is the biggest drawback with this company. I know the coverage with T-Mobile for GSM is not the best but I had Ptel with the same coverage and it worked great for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Poor customer service. Data didn't work despite all APN settings and configuration for me as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like TPO should be added to the long list of providers with less than reputable customer service.

      Delete
    2. yeah. since they are starting the GSM service recently, the CS don't have the required skills to solve issues. They said they will call in 72hrs and nobody called. So I followed up and they still said, they will follow up with the right solution and they still haven't done it.it has been about 7 days with no solution.

      Delete
    3. ouch! that's a lot of time without data. Talk about long waiting times for help. I'm sorry I really hope that your issue gets solved sooner rather than later.

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    4. they sent a new SIM and now it seems to be fine.

      Delete
  9. I was really hoping this MVNO would be a good one, especially since it promotes charity (like the old Giv) unfortunately it seems as if the company is not really addressing customers concerns in a timely manner. That is huge for me at this point, oh and the killing tax they pass on to the end user.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use a different MVNO and donate to charity directly.

      Delete
    2. well of course you can do that. You don't even need to have cell phone service to donate. What I was pointing out is the fact that as an organization it is a noble job what they do in terms of donating. Of course, it really doesn't translate well to the business since their customer service and lack of addressing issues becomes more evident as times goes by.

      Delete
  10. The 10% of your TPO bill that goes to charities is tax-deductible.

    Does that mean they don't charge sales tax on the charitable contribution?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh believe me, they charge tax and then some. There are different taxes and fees that I haven't seen in other prepaid companies aside from the applicable local taxes.

      Delete
    2. Here is a reply from TPO customer service on my inquiry about taxes on the $25/$30 dollar plan.

      "
      Thank you for providing that information. Here is a break down of the taxes you'll be charged.

      District Tax $1.50

      State Sales Tax $6.25

      County Sales Tax $1.25

      Totaling $9.00

      Respectfully,

      TPO Customer Care Team"

      Delete
  11. I signed up for service with them and it took me about two hours to port number from horrible Total Wireless...

    ReplyDelete
  12. While searching for answers on whether they throttle their data, I found this in the TPO website. Has anyone heard anything about them allowing throttled data if you run out of high speed data until your plan renews?



    "Do data speeds change?


    Avatar

    Claire
    April 05, 2016 18:47



    We do not restrict data speeds while you are within your monthly allowance. When you hit your monthly allowance, your data may be shut off or speeds may be lowered to 64kbps until your plan resets.



    If you see a change in speeds, the location or building you are in can affect this!

    See our Coverage Checker for more information: https://store.tpo.com/coverage_checks/new"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fine print on the TPO plans page says: "Data: High speed data per 30 day cycle. After allotted data amount, your data will be disabled until your next billing cycle." TPO Cell Phone Plans | Unlimited Cell Phone Plans | Wireless Plans.

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    2. Thank you Dennis. I hardly ever use anymore than 500MB anyway but was just curious about that question in their FAQ and the way they answered it.

      Delete
  13. TPO extended the 50% off special to September 12. Check website for details...
    From website:
    "Get 50% off your 1st month on selected plans when you activate your TPO SIM before September 12th"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The TPO homepage says the 50% off offer ends Sept 1 not Sept 12.

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    2. Actually the TPO homepage says the promo ends on the 1st in one place and on the 12th in another. I guess we will find out which us right on Sept 2.

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    3. Customer service told me that if you order your SIM card by the first of September, you have until the 12th to activate it. I do agree that the two dates conflict with each other and don't initially make sense.

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