Fairphone, the Dutch social enterprise building a market for ethical smartphones; /e/, the company that makes user privacy accessible to everyone; the first French cooperative telecoms operator, TeleCoop; French cooperative Commown, provider of hardware-as-a-service; German sustainable mobile communications provider WEtell and British ethical phone, broadband and mobile provider the Phone Co-op, are pleased to announce the launch of FairTEC. FairTEC is a collective of European companies working together to create and offer sustainable and ethical integrated smartphone solutions – a centralised proposition that will enable users to rent or buy a fair smartphone, select a more sustainable sim card and use an operating system that respects their personal data.

German users will be able to visit the FairTEC  website and pick their preferred combination of sustainable products, such as renting a Fairphone “as a Service” through Commown with /e/OS pre-installed and a WEtell sim card. French and UK users can do the same, renting a Fairphone “as a Service” through Commown with /e/OS pre-installed and a TeleCoop sim card in France or buying a Fairphone with /e/OS pre-installed and a Phone Co-op sim card in the UK.

In the wake of the pandemic, people have become increasingly reliant on technology, yet the majority are unaware of the negative societal and environmental impact of their digital dependence. In turn, large global conglomerates are promising a greener future, when they should act now to offer solutions and services that limit the industry’s impact and support behavioural change today. For many, fairer technology isn’t just about devices or software, but it is also about more sustainable business models that not only protect user data but the environment.

FairTEC was founded as a collective of actors committed to digital sustainability. The group is working together to offer credible and sustainable alternatives in order to create a paradigm shift to a more responsible way of operating in the technology sector. From the hardware to the operating system, from the network to its business model, FairTEC offers an alternative ecosystem that addresses numerous parts of the smartphone value chain. FairTEC is working to create a combined proposition that offers end-users a solution that will make a genuine impact. For the collective, a more sustainable digital ecosystem means:

  • Reducing the impact of smartphone production by focusing on modular and repairable design that integrates ethically and responsibly sourced materials
  • Choosing a more privacy-friendly operating system that does not store large amounts of data to profile users or sell them unwanted adverts
  • Selecting a mobile subscription that cares for the climate, user data security and is a fair and transparent service
  • Choosing an economic model that favours longevity by using smartphones as a service to allow multiple and longer life cycles for the devices and their components

 Eva Gouwens, CEO at Fairphone states: “We’re proud to be part of an initiative that makes a positive impact on the technology industry. In an age where we’re all more dependent on technology than ever before, the sector needs to encourage responsible and sustainable solutions and services so that we limit our impact on society and the environment. FairTEC wants to draw attention to the actors addressing and raising awareness around the key issues within the industry but also offer a proposition that makes a genuine impact. We want to provide Fairphone users with phones that are not only sustainable but that make an overall positive impact on the world, whether that’s with an operating system that protects privacy, a more sustainable mobile subscription or a service leasing model that takes us one step closer to a circular economy.”

“A significant segment of /e/OS users is looking for more ethical technology on top of data privacy. It was therefore obvious to us that combining forces with other organisations that share the same goal would only be beneficial. This European initiative can redefine how we use and own technology and make a lasting and positive impact for millions of users on the continent,” comments Gaël Duval, founder at /e/.

Marion Graeffly, TeleCoop’s co-founder, states: “At TeleCoop, we think digital technology should be used for the common good to combat its negative environmental and social impact. With this objective in mind, we think partnerships with projects that share these values are key to supporting and developing that vision. We joined and helped establish FairTEC because we think of a telecoms operator as the digital gateway that has a key role in creating a new path for the industry. Tech needs to be designed in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way because of how important it is in our daily lives. Providing an ecosystem of concrete alternatives is key to reaching that objective.”

“Without radical change, the technology sector will soon face an existential crisis much like the airline industry is facing today. Opening up another, more sustainable way forward through cooperation between committed actors at a European level is essential,” says Adrien Montagut, co-founder at Commown.

Jacci Marcus, Head of Digital Customer Experience, The Phone Co-op, comments: “As part of The Midcounties Co-operative, our co-op values are completely aligned to those of Fairphone, and we’ve developed a close working partnership that has delivered for our members and business customers.

“Customer experience isn’t just transactional. Changing perceptions, educating, giving options and sharing new ways of thinking are more important for us. We’re in this to be brave and bring about change.”

“WEtell offers sustainable state of the art mobile communication services. With this we want to demonstrate that climate-friendly and ethical business is possible, even in the digital high-tech industry. Our long-term goal is to establish our values of climate protection, data protection, fairness and transparency in the mobile communications industry. In order to achieve this, we need strong partners to form an alliance with common goals. FairTEC offers a great opportunity to make the idea of ethical, sustainable and fair mobile communications strong across countries. Therefore, we are excited to be a part of it,” states Andreas Schmucker, CEO of WEtell.