EE MVNO The People’s Operator is set to go global under the co-chairmanship of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Announcing his appointment to the MVNO today, Wales told Mobile one of his first tasks this week is to meet with mobile networks to discuss plans to launch The People’s Operator in other countries.
The MVNO, which was launched in the UK in November 2012 and connects its customers via EE. It donates 10% of each customer’s bill to causes chosen by the customer and gives 25% of the company’s profits to charities via the TPO Foundation.
The People’s Operator is already planning to launch in the US but Wales said the company aims to go much further afield.
‘I am on my way to meet with a number of mobile carriers and with major charities. I want this to go global,’ he said.
He added: ‘We want to open everywhere and with everybody and we have a lot of work to do in the coming year around that. We want to spread virally and be in as many markets as possible.’
Wales said the TPO is a vehicle through which mobile can help poor communities across the world.
Pointing to examples of how mobile phone access can empower poor communities, he added: ‘In the bigger picture I am very excited about mobile - what it can do and its impact around the world.’
The MVNO is ‘completely independent’ from Wikipedia, Wales said, adding that the online encyclopaedia will not be used to promote TPO.
Wales, who lives in the UK, said he will be spending a significant time working at the company insisting he will not be just a figurehead.
‘This is a deep dive for me. I want to learn the business inside out - there is a lot to achieve,’ he said, adding that TPO met two important criteria for him, ‘to raise an enormous amount of money for charity whilst at the same time being a workable business model.’
Wales said his high profile as the founder of Wikipedia would raise awareness of The People’s Operator and open doors.
‘A lot of start-ups struggle to get awareness and I can help TPO with a lot of that – it has to go viral, it has to go word of mouth and I know how to use the internet to do that and how to leverage that.
‘I can get strategic meetings at high levels. It is a nice fit – TPOs deep experience of the MVNO world and my internet experience.’
Wales said he was persuaded to join TPO by Andrew Rosenfield, the founder and co-chair of TPO, after meeting him socially via ‘friends of friends’. He added that after taking time to think about the proposition and asking more questions he had finally decided that he would take Rosenfield’s offer to become co-chairman.
‘We are such a unique proposition,’ Wales said, adding: ‘What is interesting is we offer a really, really good mobile deal. Our rates are very, very good so if you want to support a cause you don’t have to spend any extra money to do so.’