Be Your Own Wireless Company

A former Microsoft exec is starting a service that will allow any group—from churches to sports teams— to become their own wireless provider, according to BusinessWeek. The service, called Sonopia, will rent space on Verizon’s network (similar to the way Virgin Mobile works) but rather than brand the service itself, Sonopia will offer branded phones, tech support, customer service and other features to organizations that will share the profits. 5% of the revenue collected from the users will go to benefit the group, so your favorite sports team could have a wireless company, or your church, or a cancer research group. From BusinessWeek:

If just half of one percent of the group’s 5 million members sign up for NWF [National Wildlife Federation] Mobile, the program stands to generate more than $100,000 a year, says Greg Griffith, director of cause-related marketing at NWF. The organization’s other affinity programs and corporate outreach generate some $3.5 million a year today. Based on the response to NWF Mobile’s first ad, Griffith expects as many as 5% of NWF’s members to sign up&–more, in fact, than the number currently using the group’s affinity credit cards. “People will say, ‘I spend this much on a phone anyway, I might as well spend on the cause I care about,’ ” Griffith says.

Bad news for Virgin Mobile, good news for panda bears. —MEGHANN MARCO

Do-It-Yourself Wireless [BusinessWeek]
Sonopia

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. tadowguy says:

    So your group isn’t really doing anything, other than getting people to sign-up for the service? It doesn’t sound very novel. My web-hosting company gives me 5% of the revenue for anyone I get to sign-up as well. The difference there is that *I* keep the money, not a church or group.

  2. “If just half of one percent of the group’s 5 million members sign up for NWF [National Wildlife Federation] Mobile, the program stands to generate more than $100,000 a year”

    Wait a second. 0.5% of five million is 25,000 people. Four bucks per person per YEAR?
    You could make more money checking sofas for pennies.

  3. altcountryman says:

    But WNF doesn’t really have to do any work to get this revenue, other than let its members know about the service and how to sign up. They can probably do this in an existing newsletter, in print or pixels.

    $4/person/year doesn’t sound like much, but $100k of “easy” money is a *lot* for any not-for-profit.

    And the money that comes in isn’t mixed in with all those lost Cheetos from between the couch cushions.

  4. Hexum2600 says:

    DISGUSTING! You eat Cheetos?!?!?

  5. CyGuy says:

    altcountryman said: “But WNF doesn’t really have to do any work to get this revenue, other than let its members know about the service and how to sign up.”

    What they have to do is in effect provide their endorsement of Verizon as a good company do do business with. Since Verizon Wireless is notoriously non-union ( http://www.wirelessworker.org/voiceverizon-wireless.html ) I’m not sure it’s the kind of company NWF would normally be endorsing. This de facto endorsement might instead have the reverse effect of causing some of their current members to drop their membership thinking NWF has sold out for measly $4 in revenue.

  6. bndocksnt says:

    @Hexum2600: And what do pandas eat? That’s right, they eat bamboo.

  7. bndocksnt says:

    Hope fully this will close Cy Guys comment. />

  8. PandemicSoul says:

    I have a hard time believing that many people are going to care about Verizon Wireless employee unionization.