giffgaff: O2's bonkers-barmy crowdsourced phone network

O2 has launched giffgaff, a wacky new PAYG phone network with no call centres and no advertising -- just you, your friends, and low, low prices

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

O2 has launched giffgaff, a new pay as you go mobile phone network -- with a bonkers twist. giffgaff relies on user contributions to drive down prices. Inspired by Wikipedia, social networks and user-generated content, the SIM-only network crowdsources marketing and customer support. It's nuts.

A giffgaff SIM works in any phone, including the iPhone. The complete absence of customer support and DIY marketing campaign keep the costs down -- calls lasting less than an hour to other giffgaff SIMs are free. So is data, for the first six months. It's 8p per minute to landlines anywhere in the UK, EU, Australia, Pakistan and the US, and 8p to UK and US mobiles. A UK text message costs 4p.

As well as paying for top-up, you can earn points. Give a giffgaff SIM to a friend, and when they activate it you get 500 points. If a friend mentions you when they sign up, you get 200 points. Recommend giffgaff through the site and you get 50 points. Extra points are earned by helping others in the support forums, or creating adverts and viral videos to advertise the network. And what do points mean? Prizes. 100 points equals £1. In May and November your accumulated points are turned into either cash or top-up credit, or can be donated to charity.

So what do you think? Are you tempted by the wacky marketing and the low, low prices? Is this a bright new dawn for the mobile future, or crazier than a bag of badgers and doomed to death by daftness?