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The People’s Operator review 2017

Hannah Ricci
Monday, January 9th 2017

The People’s Operator - now referred to as TPO Mobile - is causing a stir in the mobile market thanks to its charitable business model, which includes donating a percentage of its profits to good causes.

But does it offer good value mobile phone deals? Here’s what we like and dislike about TPO Mobile to help you decide.

Cable.co.uk rating

Broadband Hannah Ricci
  • Tariffs & plans
    4/5
  • Phone & device range
    1/5
  • Customer service
    4/5
  • Value for money
    4/5
  • Coverage
    4/5
  • Overall
    4/5

Pros and cons

  • Ethical business model
  • 4G coverage with Three
  • Cheap one-month rolling contracts
  • No handset deals
  • Unproven customer service record
  • Tethering is not permitted

What we like

An ethical business model

It’s rare to find a telecoms provider that gives something back, so TPO’s business model will attract those that want to do their bit to help others. TPO allows customers to direct 10% of their bill to a cause of their choice at no extra cost.

When you sign up to a pay monthly phone contract, you can choose from a database of partner charities and causes. If your cause is not yet listed or if you’re after a pay-as-you-go SIM, you’re advised to contact TPO directly. The company also gives a portion of its profits to good causes through the TPO Foundation.

4G coverage with Three

TPO currently piggybacks on the Three network, which operates the largest 3G network in the country with 97% UK coverage. TPO has also adopted Three's 4G network which covers 91% of the UK – providing you with faster download speeds.

Cheap deals on one-month rolling contracts

TPO offers SIM-only deals on a choice of affordable one-month rolling contracts and pay-as-you-go plans. The basic starter package has 200 minutes, 500 texts and 512MB data, while the top-level package has 2400 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data.

If you opt to pay as you go, you’ll be charged for usage at pretty competitive rates, while calls and texts to other TPO customers are free.

There isn’t a huge amount of choice but there’s something for most usage levels; 3GB is ample for the majority of smartphone users who like to browse, email, download music, watch video clips and update social media.

Get TPO Mobile SIM-only

What we don’t like

No handset deals

If you want a new handset, then TPO is not the provider for you, because it doesn’t offer phones of any kind. It is the sole mainstream mobile provider in the UK to restrict itself to SIM-only deals (giffgaff was another but recently introduced handsets), which may put off customers who want the latest smartphone.

Unproven customer service record

TPO pitches customer support as one of its selling points, claiming you can talk to its UK-based, in-house help team seven days a week. That’s definitely a bonus but there’s little evidence as to how good the service actually is and how complaints are handled.

It is a relatively new provider (launched in 2012), so its track record is limited, and TPO does not control a big enough market share to feature in Ofcom’s annual customer satisfaction report. This may make it feel a little like jumping into the unknown.

Tethering is not permitted

As more people carry multiple devices around, tethering has become increasingly popular and most providers now offer it as standard. Not so at TPO unfortunately, and it states in the fair usage policy that: “Using your phone as a modem (tethering) is not permitted”.

Also, like many providers, TPO warns that excessive usage can trigger restrictions, such as your speed being throttled. However, it is unclear exactly what level of downloading is considered excessive and does not specify a fair usage amount.

Compare SIM-only deals

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a SIM-only deal, The People’s Operator is definitely worth a look. You’ll find a small selection of good-value contracts and competitive pay-as-you-go rates, plus you’ll get the warm fuzzy feeling of giving 10% of your bill to a good cause of your choice.

Unfortunately the lack of handsets, tethering and customer service track record may put off many people from the outset.

Visit TPO Mobile

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