The Stack Archive

Three will trial ad-free mobile network on 15th of June

Thu 26 May 2016

European mobile provider Three has announced the date for its first trial of a controversial network ad-blocking initiative that it announced in February.

The ad-free day will take place on the 15th of June, when ‘excessive and irrelevant mobile ads’ will be blocked for any of the company’s 1.4 million customers who wish to participate. Three claims to carry 45% of the UK’s mobile internet traffic, so 15th of June is set to be a dark but interesting day for network-based advertisers using distribution systems such as DoubleClick and AdTech to deliver instantly-auctioned third-party advertisements to partner sites.

Three customers can use the form at the above-linked post to sign up for the trial, and it seems likely that Three is using the opt-in method to assess whether provision of the service is worth bearing the brunt of considerable industry resistance.

The terms and conditions of the trial state that users may not actually have ads blocked at all, or that the service may cut in and out throughout the day. The length of the trial is therein stated at ’24 hours or so’, and the T&C’s also state that the date itself may get bumped, and that participating customers will be advised shortly beforehand if this happens. The ad-blocking will not be effective when devices are connected via Wi-Fi, and the company notes that any locally-hosted ads on sites will not be blocked (such ads cannot easily be included in adblocking blacklists).

The ad-filtering is being facilitated by Israeli start-up Shine Technologies, who first tested the system with Caribbean operator Digicel in 2015, causing considerable controversy. Shine has been pleased to associate itself with comments likening online ads to ‘smog’, and declaring that ‘ad blocking is a right, full-stop’.

In February the Telegraph reported that Three intends to concentrate on ads and types of ads which are most likely to consume limited data caps, such as autoplay videos, and also that Three might charge advertisers to have their output ‘whitelisted’ – the same service that browser plugin AdBlock Plus provides through its much-contended ‘Acceptable Ads’ program.


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