User-powered mobile network from giffgaff
Tired of the conventional mobile networks charging ever increasing amounts for contracts? A new option is now available and to cut costs, it's people powered! giffgaff is a new (MVNO) Mobile Virtual Network Operator hoping to shake up the mobile industry, and they want you, the user, to be involved.
Some people may be wondering what the benefit of getting involved is. Apart from shaping the mobile network to what may be better for you, the user, rather than the network operator, they have a system called 'giffgaff payback' which will reward you with some freebies. The kind of things you can help with are marketing through ideas, web site content or generating new ads for giffgaff; customer service, by helping other members with problems; or referring and signing up new members to the service. giffgaff points relate to 1p for a point, and signing up another member will earn you 500 points which can be converted to £5 cash, mobile credit or a charity donation.
The costs compare well to other networks. Charges for calls to other mobiles and landlines are 8p per minute, and texts 4p. Most calls and texts to other giffgaff members are free, and Internet usage on your phone is free for the first 6 months from launch. They want to know how you use the Internet from your phone and how would be best to pay for it. Your user input will help shape how this works in the future.
So what's the catch? Well, the company use the O2 mobile network to provide you with service and are also owned by O2, so you aren't completely escaping from the clutches of the large networks. It is however definitely a new approach to mobile telephony and one that may fit well with the new generation of user involvement that is becoming common in shaping the Internet and technology, particularly as telephony, television and Internet access converge.