The Phone Co-op is one of the fastest-growing telecoms suppliers in Britain and one of the most unusual. The company is the UK’s only co-operative telecoms supplier, owned by their members and run for the benefit of their customers.
This year they celebrate their 20th anniversary and remain committed to working ethically, treating their employees fairly, operating sustainably and caring for their customers, community and the environment.
The company is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and while most of these use just one network, the Phone Co-op offers customers the choice of EE, O2 or Vodafone.
The Phone Co-op takes pride in being an ethical phone provider. They offer “honest and transparent prices with no hidden charges”. They can provide handsets from Alcatel, Apple, Google, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and Xiaomi for monthly contracts, and they offer PAYG and SIM-only deals.
They even have their own phone － the Fairphone 2 － the ethical smartphone, built to last. A high-quality, Android phone manufactured as ethically as possible from “conflict-free” materials and with a modular design to make home repairs easy, thereby extending the life of the device and reducing e-waste. Yes, you can grab a screwdriver and replace parts yourself! Even the screen is easy to renew, just unclip the casings!
The company creates initiatives to source responsibly-produced tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, used in the manufacture of phones, and promotes sustainability by researching options for the recycling of electronics and reducing electronic waste worldwide.
Fairphone works continuously with selected manufacturers and suppliers to improve working conditions in the factory. The handset is produced in a workplace that ensures a safe and healthy environment as well as a decent wage for its workers.
The Fairphone is #1 in Ethical Consumer’s ratings for mobile phones and is the first smartphone to have the Blue Angel Certification － the longest-running environmental certification scheme in the world.
With one 12Mp main camera, one 5Mp front camera, dual SIM slots and a 5” full HD LCD screen made of Gorilla Glass, the device has 2GB RAM and storage of 32GB expandable up to 64GB. The 4G handset runs on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS and the Snapdragon 801 processor, and accessories include FM radio and a headphone jack.
The Phone Co-op offers 24 month contracts with bundles that all come with unlimited call minutes and texts, and a choice of data plans from 1-30GB. All the handsets are available for the 4G mobile plans with 99% coverage of the UK population on The Phone Co-op EE network. For example, an Alcatel 1X with 1GB of unlimited minutes and text costs £17.50 per month. An iPhone 7 Plus with 30GB of unlimited minutes and texts costs £57 per month with a set-up charge of £55. The Fairphone with 1GB of unlimited minutes and texts costs £32.50 per month and with 30GB of unlimited minutes and texts, £52 per month.
The PAYG SIMs are flexible and don’t involve a contract. They can be topped up using the standard tariff or one of the bundles that lasts 30 days. You’ll be pleased to hear that you’ll only be charged for the call time that you use. Charges are rounded to the nearest second, not to the nearest minute as with most other networks, so your credit will last longer.
You can keep your current mobile number if you wish and add to your plan with 30-day bundles from £10 for 500 minutes, 1,000 texts and 1GB, and £20 for 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 4GB. Data-only bundles are also available from £5 for 500MB and £15 for 2GB.
SIM-only plans are a great way for you to keep your phone beyond the typical “life” of two years and reduce e-waste in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. You can either go on PAYG or monthly contracts with the deals offering unlimited minutes and texts as standard and a choice of data plan which will determine the overall price. For example, 1GB costs £10 per month and 3GB £12 per month.
You can also choose a cap for your phone usage, allowing you to go over your contract by a certain amount, starting at £0 and going up to £50.
The Phone Co-op doesn’t offer the cheapest mobile and broadband prices but they are not the most expensive either and if you’re looking for an ethical choice, it could be well worth paying the extra.