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Mobile network blocks ads

News, 02 October 2015

JAMAICA: Digicel has become the first mobile operator to block ads at a network level, taking what the chairman described as a stand against the "unacceptable" business tactics of leading internet firms.

"Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook talk a great game and take a lot of credit when it comes to pushing the idea of broadband for all, but they put no money in," said Denis O'Brien, in remarks reported by the Financial Times.

"Instead they unashamedly trade off the efforts and investments of network operators like Digicel to make money for themselves," he continued.

"That's unacceptable, and we as a network operator are taking a stand against them to force them to put their hands in their pockets."

Digicel is working with Shine, an Israeli start-up, to block advertisements on its networks in Jamaica and will roll out the technology to its other markets across the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific – where it has a total of 13.6m subscribers – in coming months.

If internet companies want to unblock their ads, they will have to contribute towards the costs of the mobile telecoms infrastructure required to deliver them, Digicel said.

It claims that ads use as much as 10% of a customer's data plan and said that getting rid of them would not only save users money but give them a better experience.

The FT reported back in May that at least one European wireless carrier had installed the blocking software in its data centres with the intention of turning it on later in the year.

At that time an executive at the unnamed carrier explained that customers would be able to opt in to an advertising-free service and gain benefits including faster loading of web pages, a reduced risk of malware being introduced and greater privacy as user data would not be collected.

Figures from Warc's Adspend Database show approximately US$27.9bn was spent on mobile advertising worldwide in 2014.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff