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