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The People's Operator mines mobile chat for charity

The new UK operator is piggybacking on a third-party network - understood to belong to 4G leader EE - to provide mobile services, and is pledging to set aside one-quarter of its profits for charitable causes.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

A new UK mobile operator which aims to distinguish itself from rivals by putting an emphasis on charitable donations — and plans to eventually start a 4G service — launched on Monday.

London-based network The People's Operator (TPO) pledges to put 25 percent of its profits into its own charitable foundation, which will hand out donations to good causes. In addition, customers can ask to have 10 percent of their call, text and data charges go to the charity of their choice.

The People's Operator

TPO is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), it uses another company's infrastructure to deliver its service. While TPO didn't reveal which network it is using, ZDNet understands that it is piggybacking on EE, which operates the Orange and T-Mobile infrastructure.

EE is the only company in the UK to offer 4G services right now, and it plans to extend these to 16 UK cities before the end of the year. At the moment, TPO's data service uses 3G technology, but it eventually will introduce 4G services, the company told ZDNet.

"It will initially be 3G," a TPO spokesman said. "4G will come in eventually, but this will be entirely determined/controlled by the MNO."

TPO says it has network coverage of around 98 percent of the UK — the same percentage claimed by EE for its 3G services.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deals are all that is available for the time being, although a TPO spokesman told ZDNet contract deals will "definitely be available in the next few months".

Calls and texts to other TPO customers are free, while calls to other networks will cost 12.5 pence per minute. Texts to any other network cost 7.5 pence each, and data is priced at 12.5 pence per megabyte.

Bundles of texts, voice or data usage will arrive in early December, according to TPO. For example, 200 minutes of talk time will cost £12.50, 500 texts will cost £10 and 500MB of data usage will cost £17.50.

While the service is targeted at consumers for now, TPO suggests that businesses will be able to take advantage of its set-up to fulfill their goals for corporate social responsibility.

"The People's Operator represents a fundamental shift in the way commercial utilities support communities and causes. The more profit that is generated, the more we can pass on to deserving parts of society," company co-founder Andrew Rosenfeld said in a statement.

People wanting to give the network a try will need to request a new SIM (or micro-SIM) directly from TPO's webpage.

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