Tom Lyons TalkForGood Interview
Hear What The President & CEO Has To Say!

TalkForGood Wireless Executive Interview

TalkforGood Wireless is a Verizon MVNO that launched in November 2012.  They have a fresh motto regarding providing no contract wireless customers great value referred to as The New Rules of Wireless.  Tom Lyons, President & CEO, was generous enough to chat with about the company; thank you Tom!

Interview Date:  January 17, 2013

1. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo Can you share some background regarding the company history, and startup inspiration?

I  grew up in Montpelier, VT and remember the local telephone company was an important member of our local community, always sponsoring the little league and helping local organizations with whatever they needed.  When the opportunity to be a Verizon MVNO came up, we knew we wanted to build a company with a strong local presence, like the localTom Lyons TalkForGood Wireless telephone companies in Vermont.  Our network partner gives us the opportunity to offer a premium service across the United States.  The challenge was how do we build a National technology company but still maintain our strong commitment to local communities?  That's where TalkForGood comes in.  At TalkForGood we let our customers choose the non-profits and charities they care about and we donate a portion of their monthly bill to those organizations.   

2. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo  Do you have any retail or wireless dealer distribution?  Do you have plans to expand your distribution in the near future?  How are you finding people are learning about your service?

We have a small dealer distribution channel and we are slowly building it with plans to aggressively expand our dealer distribution in the future.  We like dealers and we think they are a key part of our growth.

3. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo The MVNO market has proven to be extremely challenging.  While we saw a calming in the MVNO market a couple of years ago, this past year has seen a resurgence; how is Talk for Good Wireless distinguishing itself in the market to capture customers’ attention and loyalty?

There's no question the wireless market is extremely competitive.  There are several areas where TalkForGood stands out in the market.  These are:  Quality of service - For most US wireless customers, our network is the preferred network.  Value - We created the plans & service that we wanted for ourselves and our families.  No contract, BYO smartphone or feature phone, and plans that start at $6/mo.  No more penalties, 2 year contracts, or paying for services you never use.  We call this the New Rules of Wireless.

Most American's are “over subscribed” for wireless service.  Validas just published a report showing that in 2012 US consumers paid $45B for wireless service they never used.  That's $45 BILLION! People are reporting that cellular phone bills are often the second largest household expense behind mortgages.  People feel like they are being taken advantage of by the big carriers.  We are committed to offering great wireless service at a fair price. 

4. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo Your current price points are very attractive for talk and text.  However, once you start adding data buckets that smartphone users will need, pricing is pretty much on par with the market.  Is Talk For Good largely going after the talk and text user who uses only occasional data?

This goes back to what I mentioned before, most people are over subscribed for wireless service and data is a BIG part of this.  We hear from customers again and again, “I used to buy a lot more data than I ever used”.  A  typical smartphone with AT&T or Verizon is about $90 a month.  For low or moderate users of voice and data, TalkForGood will save the customer at least 50%.   The market is moving quickly and consumers are starting to become more educated about their wireless data options.  Today, most people have access to Wi-Fi but many still use their cellular data connection. We give consumers a choice that lets them save a lot of money without compromising on quality of service.  If a customer needs to use more data one month  because she is traveling a lot,  that's OK.  Maybe the next month she'll hardly use anything, so why should she pay for a big data plan?  TalkForGood has no penalties or expensive overage rates.  The bottom line is that the customer is in control.

5. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo I like the charitable contributions component of your business.  In the lean margin wireless business, however, is this going to stifle your ability to grow profitably?  Is this part of the fundamental culture of your business, or a unique point of differentiation for socially-minded prospective customers?

The Charitable contribution component is both a fundamental part of our culture as well as a major differentiator.

TalkForGood is a mission focused company.   Doing good is a fundamental part of our culture and who we are.  We feel strongly that doing good is a unique point of differentiation, but we are very clear that above everything else, our customers want great wireless service at a fair price.

6. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming increasingly important to customers. Can you describe how your program works, and any key requirements or limitations customers should be aware of?

We are excited about our Bring Your Own Device model.  There are two factors that make the BYO model important.  First, Cost -  Most people don't realize how expensive phone financing is with a typical 2yr contract.  When consumers do the math and realize they can buy new or high quality used phones from Swappa or Amazon it really opens their eyes.  With the quality of our network, TalkForGood BYO provides real value & savings.  Second, Choice - Everyone wants to use their favorite phone.  The only limitation we have on phones is that it needs to be a CDMA phone enabled to work on the Verizon Network. With Over The Air programming (OTA), Verizon phones just work.  Anyone can signup for service on our website and activate a phone in less than 5 minutes.  We think this is really cool.

Today we can only offer 3G data service.  Some of our customers are activating 4G LTE phones, but this requires the customer to manually program the phone or find a professional to program it for them.

Phones from other CDMA carriers require a little more effort.  Handsets from Cricket, MetroPCS, AllTel, US Cellular, Sprint, Boost, or Virgin Mobile, need to be enabled or “flashed” to talk to the TalkForGood towers (Verizon Towers), .  GSM phones from T-Mobile and AT&T do not work on our network.

7. Prepaid Wireless Guide Logo Mobile broadband has seen tremendous growth; does Talk For Good plan to offer no contract broadband devices and services?  What about mobile hotspot add-ons for those with compatible devices?

All of our data plans include the “Tethering” feature or mobile hotspot at no extra charge.  Customers can connect their router, laptop or other device to their Smartphone's TalkForGood data service and simply pay the $0.06/mb cost for the data they use.

We have customers using the $6/mo Smart Plan with their mobile broadband device or tablet.  We're not currently promoting this data device capability, but we're excited to see customers taking the initiative.

Visit TalkForGood Wireless Now!

Tom Lyons TalkForGood Wireless Interview

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