Advertising isn’t the problem, telecoms are

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Advertising isn’t the problem with ad blockers, at least not the sole problem. A few days ago I explained why I thought that tracking was the problem that ad blockers are designed to deal with. From a consumer point-of-view the time it takes to load a page is unacceptable for a significant minority of internet users.

This comes at a time when mobile telecommunications services have become commoditised. For £29/month I get unlimited data, unlimited SMS texts, unlimited voice, free roaming across a number of countries around the world and 8GB of data when my phone is used as a modem for a laptop.

So how could a mobile carrier upsell me? The answer lies in going back to the late 1990s. In the UK, there used to be a mobile carrier called one2one. The service provider had a poor network, but needed to engage with business users and tech forward consumers. They did this with series of tariffs under the Precept brand. These tariffs had a couple of differentiated services in common:

  • A shorter gap between replacement handsets
  • A priority and normal number, so that you could prioritise callers
  • Improved voice quality using a better Codec called Enhanced Full Rate or EFR

Move forward the best part of two decades – handsets are now affordable to be purchased upfront for tech forward consumers, though Apple and Samsung looking to duplicate the car leasing model in the US. They are likely to roll it out internationally at some point.

The equivalent of priority numbers is multiple identities or accounts, differentiation that steps out of the mobile provider remit and into services provided via applications, for instance multiple email addresses.

Voice calls are becoming increasingly disinter-mediated through OTT messaging services.  But ad-blocking on the network level offer a clear analog to the deployment of EFR, providing faster page load times for web content.

There are also benefits in terms of network utilisation and bandwidth capacity. This is especially important in countries like the UK where it is nigh on impossible to get planning permission for mobile masts due to consumer protests. But the most attractive part of ad blocking at the network is the product differentiation it affords mobile providers.

More information

Advertising isn’t the problem with ad-blockers | renaissance chambara
UK Gov’t Launches Anti-Adblocking Initiative, Compares It To Piracy | Slashdot
Three Group to tackle excessive and irrelevant mobile ads | Three UK media centre
One 2 One offers free daytime calls and souped-up GSM | V3
The UK’s £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project “not as successful as envisaged” | TelecomTV


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