Exclusive Interview with Alex Franks, CEO, The People’s Operator

The People’s Operator launched in the UK at the end of last year with a very interesting business model.  Can you give us an overview of the model please?

We think we have created a really simple model to help good causes and charities boost their fundraising capabilities while still offering our customers a great deal. We are committed to giving 25 per cent of our profits to good causes and charities on a yearly basis. This is done through The TPO Foundation, an entity that we have set up independently of the operator business. The Foundation is run by a board of trustees and is chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly who is also the Chair for The Commission for Standards in Public Life.

In addition to the 25 per cent we allow our customers to direct us to give 10 per cent of their monthly mobile spend on texts, voice and data to the charity of their choice or to one of our many charity partners that they have joined through. Customer choice is a really important part of the model. To be clear, the entire 10 per cent of the monthly spend goes to the charity partners, we don’t take any of this amount to cover our costs, we think this is another unique part of our proposition.

The tariff we have created is very competitive and we don’t ask our customers for donations to cover the work we do with our charity partners.

So, it’s a great deal for our customers and a great deal for our charity partners.

Which charities are you working with?

We are working with a wide range of charities at the moment from big organisations like the NSPCC, Childline, Dimbleby Cancer Care and The Childrens Heart Federation through to grass roots organisation and community groups like The Trussell Trust, Trinity Hospice and Hanley Crouch Community Centre. We think our model works really well for charities large and small and welcome them all.

What were the challenges leading up to launch  and how would you advise a potential MVNO to overcome them?

There are a number of challenges in launching a new mobile phone network, there’s a huge amount of work to do but we have a great team and great partners that meant the launch was a huge success. We launched on time and have had no technical problems at all.

I would advise anyone planning to do this to plan well, hire brilliant people and choose your partners carefully.

What are you planning for TPO’s future

We’re really excited about the future. We launched with a PAYG service initially and are now planning to rollout our PAYM service in Q1. Alongside that rollout we will be launching our corporate service. We will be speaking to existing partners and other business about the advantages of switching to TPO. If a charity partner switches their corporate account to TPO we can be directed to pass 10% of their employee mobile spend back to that charity. Equally, businesses can support their charity partners and fulfiil CSR commitments by switching to TPO and directing us to give the 10% to the charity partner of their choice. Again, it’s a really simple but very effective model.


Hear more from Alex Franks, CEO, The People’s Operator at the MVNOs World Congress, 22-24 April 2013, Rome, Italy.

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