It’s one of those weird little quirks of the universe that whenever you see a country whose name includes “The People’s Republic”, then actual democracy is not going to be a big priority, there. So, when I see that a new virtual network has been launched, and that it’s called The People’s Operator, my immediate first thought is one of communist dictatorships…
I’m going to avoid the obvious jokes, here (although I might slip on in about the network using a Little Red Phonebook, but that’s it, I promise), and actually talk about the new network, because although it sounds like a communist regime, it’s actually kind of interesting. So, what’s the crack?
Well, the big thing that The People’s Operator (or TPO, as they call themselves, since they’re presumably as lazy as me, when it comes to typing out long names) are pushing in their advertising is the fact that part of the money you pay, for your calls and what have you, is given to charity. So, say that you get a TPO sim, and stick it in your Samsung Galaxy Note II, or whatever; of the money you pay for calls and what have you, 25% is put into TPO’s own charitable fund, and divvied up to give to good causes round the UK.
That’s a unique selling point, that is, and the other intriguing bit is that you can also specify for 10% of your bills to go to a charity of your choice.
So, what’s the catch? Well, first up, the new network currently only offers PAYG sim-only deals, so you’d need your own phone to drop the SIM into, whether that’s an aforementioned Galaxy Note II, or even a low-end cheapo Nokia phone. The second point is that you may as well use it in a cheapo Nokia phone; it’s fair to say that TPO is very definitely aimed at old school phone usage, rather than newfangled mobile data usage. Put simply, the mobile data rates are really rather expensive, and the upcoming data bundles they talk about are, quite frankly, useless.
Seriously, put their data packages up against the unlimited data bundles you get from the likes of Three, and there’s absolutely no doubt about which network gives you the better data plans.
Hint: it ain’t TPO…
That’s not a good thing in the modern market, I reckon. Look at how prevalent smartphones are, now, and how much more prevalent they’re becoming. Hell, look at a Windows phone like the HTC 8X, and you’ll see a phone that really must be online 24/7 for its interactive Live Tiles interface to be in any way meaningful or useful. Thus, my prediction is that using a smartphone on TPO is going to cost an absolute fortune, and therefore, you’re way better off sticking with one of the existing networks, if you use a smartphone.
So, in summary: nice idea, with the charity and everything, but I can’t see many modern mobile users buying into it. I don’t reckon that warm fuzzy feeling of giving to charity will be enough to make people accept the fact that they’re paying over the odds to get on Facebook.
Call me cynical if you like, I prefer to think of it as being pragmatic…
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