The People's Operator

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The People's Operator LLP
Type Limited Liability Partnership
Industry Mobile Phones
Founded 2012
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people Mark Epstein CEO
Products Mobile Telephony

The People's Operator, or TPO, is a mobile virtual network operator that provides mobile phone services in the United Kingdom via the EE network. It was launched in 2012, with the stated aim of being an ethical mobile network operator.


TPO was launched on 19 November 2012. At launch, it was owned entirely by its three co-founders, Andrew Rosenfeld, Tom Gutteridge and Mark Epstein.[1] The organisation is based in Shoreditch, London. It was established with the stated aim of being an ethical mobile phone operator.[2] At launch, Rosenfeld was the Chairman, with Gutteridge and Epstein as vice-chairs, and Alex Franks as the chief executive.[3][4]

On 20 January 2014 it announced that Jimmy Wales had joined the organisation as co-chair of the board, and had "taken a strategic stake in the business." Wales was quoted as saying that "TPO has huge potential for viral growth and the more it grows, the more money will pass to the people and communities that need it."[5][6]


As a mobile virtual network operator, TPO does not own any network infrastructure, but instead uses the EE network to provide its services[1] (although it did not initially disclose which network it would use).[7] It uses the virtual network aggregator Transatel to connect to the EE network.[4]

Since it was launched, TPO has offered pay-as-you-go services.[1] The organisation does not have stores, operating entirely online, but it has an in-house call centre.[2]

At launch, the costs of calls and texts were deemed competitive with other mobile phone operators, costing 12.5/minute for calls with free calls between TPO users, 7.5p/text and 12.5p/MB for data,[3] although it was noted that they may need to offer a better data rate.[7] It later halved its data rate.[8] TPO started offering monthly contracts in April 2013, at prices between £5 and £25.[9][10]

TPO announced in January 2014 that it is aiming to launch its services in the United States and Europe within the next 12 months.[5][11]

The People's Operator Foundation[edit]

25% of TPO's profit goes to The People's Operator Foundation, which is an independent group that funds charities and community groups in the UK. In addition, customers can optionally give 10% of the amount they spend on calls, texts and data[1] (pre-VAT)[2] to a specific charity or community group. Organisations that sign up new customers to TPO also receive 10% of the customer's call, text and data spend.[1] In order to not cost its customers more than other networks, this 10% comes from TPO's marketing budget.[6]

TPO established partnerships with NSPCC, The Trussell Trust, Dimbleby Cancer Care and Childline prior to its launch,[2][3] and by April 2013 it had partnered with the Children’s Heart Foundation, RE:generate and Caxton House, and was planning a partnership with The Big Issue Foundation.[9][10]

In September 2013, the Labour Party also announced a partnership with TPO; according to Wired UK, party members are encouraged to "sign up to the mobile operator in order to give 10 percent of their bill back to the party."[12] Unite the Union, a British and Irish trade union, has a similar TPO partnership.[12] In November 2013 The Daily Telegraph reported that Unite's deal with TPO included free phone calls and texts for members of its strike committee and that this capability was being used as a part of a "campaign of intimidation" against bosses at the Grangemouth Refinery.[13] In November 2013, Rosenfeld, a Labour Party donor, denied to The Times that The People's Operator "had aided Unite in dirty tricks campaigns during industrial disputes."[14]

As of January 2014 TPO had also partnered with Islington Giving, and Wales hopes that it will also support Wikipedia in the future.[6]

TPO Foundation is a registered charity.[15] As of 2012, the TPO Foundation's trustees are Sir Christopher Kelly (Chair), Kevin Curley and Andrew Rosenfeld.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Ethical Mobile Phone Network The People's Operator Launches". International Business Times. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "New UK mobile network The People's Operator aims to be ethical". Pocket Lint. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "The People's Operator launches as charitable mobile network". Digital Spy. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Charitable Mobile Network TPO Pitches Itself As 'The People's Operator'". Huffington Post UK. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Carol Millett (20 January 2014). "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales joins The People's Operator". Mobile magazine. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales backs 'viral mobile network' The People's Operator". The Telegraph. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Charitable mobile network The People's Operator launches". BBC News. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "The People’s Operator interview". Mobile Network Comparison. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "The People’s Operator adds contracts to offering". Mobile News. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "The People's Operator launches rolling monthly contracts". Mobile Today. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Jimmy Wales takes his Wikipedia learnings to the mobile industry as Co-Chair of The People’s Operator". TheNextWeb. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Olivia Solon (20 January 2014). "Jimmy Wales joins mobile network The People's Operator". Wired.  See also the endorsement on the Unite the Union website.
  13. ^ Hayley Dixon (1 November 2013). "Company set up by Labour donor aids Unite union". Daily Telegraph. p. 14. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Laura Pitel (November 2, 2013). "Labour rivals head for first clash since 'union fix' scandal". The Times. p. 37. 
  15. ^ "The People's Operator turns your calls and texts into charity". CNet. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014.