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Jimmy Wales Backed UK MVNO The People's Operator to Launch in the US

The People's Operator, (TPO), a UK MVNO that donates a portion of its sales to political causes and charity, has signed a MVNO agreement with Sprint and is raising capital to begin service in the US early next year.

One of TPO's backers is Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who also serves as TPO's Executive Director of Strategy and Digital Community. In announcing the US expansion, Wales said "We intend to be the first international mobile operator which has successfully built a global customer base via online communities and viral networking.

Our research in the UK suggests that our business model, which enables customers to direct 10 per cent of their monthly bills to a cause of their choosing, will attract customers that deliver higher average revenue per user than traditional mobile network operators. Furthermore, TPO's business model has already delivered growth at a lower cost per user, low customer churn rates and wide customer appeal, because of the strong attachment customers have to their chosen causes.

We are pleased to have recently signed an operating agreement with Sprint, one of the largest network operators in the United States. This gives TPO a platform from which to start creating global on-line communities and an important first mover advantage in a large market that offers significant potential to accelerate the growth of our business."

TPO donates 10% of plan payments to causes chosen by customer and has also pledged to donate 25% of its profits to charity.

In the UK, TPO operates as an MVNO on the EE network and offers both pay as you go and postpaid plans. TPO pay as you go customers pay £10 ($16.07) for 500 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB per month. 1000 minutes, texts and MB are £15 ($24.10) and 2000 min, texts and MB are £20 ($32.14). TPO has more than 10,000 UK customers and is adding new customers at a rate of 25% per month.

The People's Operator sounds similar to GIV Mobile and Credo, two US MVNOs  which let customers donate to charities and in the case of Credo, progressive clauses. T-Mobile MVNO Giv donates 8% of monthly plan charges to charities of the user's choosing and Credo is a postpaid Sprint MVNO that donates to causes and charities nominated and voted on by customers.

Sources: London Stock Exchange and The People's Operator via Fierce Wireless


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  1. Yeah, GIV Mobile does same thing giving to charities. So, if you don't like TPO's politics, then try GIV Mobile.

    Also, if you don't want sprint, then forget TPO and try GIV Mobile. And then if you don't want tmobile, then forget GIV Mobile also.

    And if you don't want to give your money to politics or charities, then say FU to these operators by continuing to use your preferred mvno.

  2. I think if TPO wants the same growth rate here in the US they enjoy in the UK they'll have to offer service on another network at some point. It's a shame TPO didn't do their research and realize Sprint and their MVNOs are losing customers every day. Even if the Sprint network works well in some areas. Nationwide Sprint is now the worst of the top four networks.

    1. I imagine that startups are choosing Sprint (and TMo) because the financial terms are appealing. If AT&T and Verizon were offering the same terms, I'm sure Republic Wireless, Ting, Zact and others would go with them instead.

    2. The main customer base for MVNO's are not likely to live in the sticks where T-Mobile and Sprint have limited reach. So, launching a new MNVO on Sprint that seeks growth through the 80% of Americans who live in cities (and not the 20% who complain about T-Mobile on messages boards everywhere) makes for a sound business plan.

  3. I agree. The Sprint Network is abysmal. The only reason I could imagine partnering with Sprint is if they were giving the network access away for free.

  4. I thought this was launching in China when I first read it, LOL! I guess the first mistake is trying to use the Sprint network - it's atrocious.

  5. I agree. Sprint is not good. I was shocked when I read they have completed their LTE Network Vision integration. Sprint does not work in Orange County, CA.

  6. Sprint Spark is as fast as anything out there and is being deployed in more areas everyday. It is Tmobile that stops working when you leave the cities.

    1. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile can be counted on for coverage outside of urban areas. Sprint has no service on heavily traveled i-80 for almost 300 miles across Nevada. T-Mobile has coverage there but has similar coverage gaps in other areas.

    2. I've found data coverage to be an issue outside of urban areas for T-Mobile. At the very least, you get voice and text which is more than I can say for Sprint.

    3. Spark is a drawback due to the problems with it doing more than one thing at once. A serious, fatal flaw.

    4. Also Spark is getting deployed in areas that already have Sprint... so this is not an expansion, and is also a downgrade.

  7. Sprint works excellent where I live. It all depends on your location.

  8. Too bad they chose Sprint vs T-mobile. (poor or no BYOD).

  9. Now when a startup starts out with questionable "facts" should you buy in?

    " .....We..... signed ....with Sprint, one of the largest network operators in the United States"

    Now come on - isn't it a far Stretch to call third or last place of four networks
    as being "one of the largest" ?
    and with new mvnos coming and going out of business as fast as some do.. does this inspire confidence?

    Unless The People's Operator brings in low cost plans (after taxes) and keeps them low, and not just startup teaser rates (what about roaming?....and can they really get/give better rates than other Sprint Mvnos plus take 10% off top for charities and still make a profit?);
    then isn't it better to just find the cheapest and/or best service that works for you.. and write a check yourself (or do monthly auto pay) to the charities of your choice... why pay (and likely buy more) for a company's accounting staff to take it from you....
    as you're likely to save a little more money to keep or give away:

    As at least here's a little honesty slipping thru : "Our research..... suggests that our business model.........., will attract customers that deliver higher average revenue per user than traditional.. operators"

    But Thanks again, Dennis has sourced out the facts about another Mvno well ahead of their possible 2015 US launch....& depending on plan pricing some may find TPO worth a try. regardless it's more competition and perhaps more revenue to Sprint could result in Network expansion/ improvements...
    and consequently keep other carriers on their toes?

    1. There are about a dozen US mobile network operators, Sprint is legitimately one of the largest.

    2. \Guess you're right Dennis... the lawyers would get technical and include all
      Regional "network operators" and wisely Wales didn't include "National" wording nor use the "Carrier" term.
      Supposedly then each and every MVNO by its very definition of being a "network operator" counts and Wales Wikipedia lists dozens and dozens of those...

      but don't most consider there are only 4 National operators or carriers.. and whose networks but AT&T, Verizon, T Mobile, & Sprint do any MVNOs operate on except for roaming the regional operators?

      And from the rants on this site... seems some think to even call Tmobile and Sprint National networks raises complaints..
      And you would know far better if either T mobile or Sprint actually operate in all 50 states to qualify by that standard as true "National Network Operators"?

    3. Sprint doesn't appear to have any coverage in Montana or Alaska, T-Mobile has none in Alaska although they do have prepaid roaming there.

    4. If it was horseshoes, that amount of coverage would be close enough to claim full national coverage..... (all carriers have gaps and in fairness there's still a lot of open space in this country esp. in those states) but good heads up for those who may be travelling there to remember

  10. " .....We..... signed ....with Sprint, one of the largest network operators in the United States"

    Well, consider that Rhode Island is part of a group of the 50 largest states in the USA.

  11. The Executive Director of Strategy in his press statement claims signing with Sprint " gives TPO a platform from which to start creating global on-line communities...".

    Global? Sprint Mvno it's a global platform?
    How? OR Is this just Wales wordplay?

    For a sole gsm UK Mvno, that's launching in the U.S. on Sprint cdma. that sounds to be a little far reaching verbiage looks more practical as a Strategy to build a US market... any idea what's their numbers are in UK?

    And true, (despite more than a hundred other countries),,,one could point out that both the UK and US can be found on a world globe...so guess that would make TPO a global operation...;{)

    let's see: its a relatively new virtual London UK start up (that donates 25% of its profits in addition to customer's 10% & let's customers donate to a political party) now with a new stakeholder wants to raise funds to start a new US sprint start up that's to be the platform "to start creating" online communities by viral means?

    & has sign up partnerships paid % with various organizations, mixing various charities & UK political causes.....???
    How will all that wash? that's a lot of new "Starting UP" going on together.

    .... marketing wants to put the Biggest Spin on it.....but
    ..... you can put lipstick on a pig........but it's still a .......

    Sp Here we have a 2012 UK MVNO start up, that Wales just joined in 2014
    (that uses a charity based draw like a couple of other existing MVNOs) ;
    that now is raising capital (req return on investment) to begin a new start up,
    another Sprint network U.S. MVNO in 2015 on a network,
    as this site notes- where there's more than a dozen already
    ( apparently with more starting as other mvnos go defunct)
    Their difference: TPO "intends" to be first in successfully building global customers with "online communities and viral marketing"
    Now, beyond paying % to organizations that sign up customers;
    just how that'll be different than how existing MVNOs and carriers
    already use the internet, Facebook,etc..
    guess that's for them to know....
    but caution flag on the play
    'as the road to....... can be paved with good "intentions".'...:(

    and despite what looks like several % coming off revenue

    let's hope it's still possible for some real aggressive pricing
    to smooth it's path of launch!

    Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this new MVNO works out and where they determine their plan pricing....and what $$ amounts in U.S. charity deductions happens if they release those #

    and will note too would qualified Statisticians really use data from a completely different country to make a major business decision? Hopefully they did some US research as well- like how big GIV & Credo currently are to start and lots of other data analyzes
    As their research in the UK for a business model on charitable deductions on influencing its customer base might not work as well in the US known for being a higher % givers to charity.. so a few dollars on their cell plan might not have the same appeal especially to those who if charitable minded likely already give hundreds or for some thousands to their respective causes...

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