First co-op SIM launched

The Co-operative Group has become the first co-operatively run company to release a pay-as-you-go SIM card in the UK

UK consumers may now make phone calls in a more socially-minded way, thanks to the Co-operative mobile pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM, launched earlier this month. The Co-operative Group claims that the SIM is “the first co-operative pre-pay mobile package on the market.”

The SIM is a joint venture between the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, and a number of other British co-operatives including The Co-operative Phone and Broadband.

The Co-operative Phone and Broadband is the UK’s only telecommunications provider that is 100% owned and run by its customers. It invests much of its profit into projects aiming to benefit society and the environment, including over £622,000 in solar energy over the past 18 months. The company already offered mobile contract services, but this is the first time it has offered a PAYG service.

“It will offer consumers a customer-owned, ethical prepaid mobile service for the first time,” said Vivian Woodell, founder and chief executive of The Co-operative Phone and Broadband.

“We have done everything we can to ensure it reflects our values both in terms of the way the tariff works, with no smoke-and-mirrors pricing and no hidden surprises, and also in terms of our supply chain. For example, the packaging is produced by a worker co-operative using environment-friendly processes.”

In a report released by Ethical Consumer published last December, titled Mobile Phones, Networks and Broadband, The Co-operative Phone and Broadband was considered a ‘best buy’ and came second in terms of its ethical rating.

However, the subject of ethical mobile phones is far from straightforward. “Talking about ethics in regard to the mobile phone industry is a murky subject,” said Anna Clayton, researcher at Ethical Consumer. “For every SIM you need a phone handset, which may be linked to conflict minerals, environmental destruction and workers’ rights abuse. A consumer therefore needs to consider the ethics behind both the phone handset and the network provider in order to make the best possible ethical choice.”

The Co-operative PAYG SIM card is available across the country in 3,800 Co-operative stores. Customers can also order it by phone and online from The Co-operative Phone and Broadband.

The Co-operative Phone and Broadband are a Positive News Partner