Talk of the ad-supported network Samba has been ripe on the grapevine for some time now here in the UK. While some were appalled at the idea of being forced to watch ads in order to access free internet, others – particularly advertisers – welcomed the trade-off.
Now, Samba has been released onto our airwaves, hailing itself as the “UK’s first free broadband service for users on the go.”
The service, which is currently only available through an app on the iPad, directs users to adverts, which they must watch to top up their internet allowance. Quite impressively, Samba claim that two-and-a-half minutes of ad-viewing converts to over 500MB of download data through the Three network. In order to cut down on cheeky folk who spam the service, users can only view each video a limited number of times.
Extra data credit can be earned if users make purchases from Samba’s ad partners, or you can simply pay like a normal person for your data allowance.
Not boding well for Samba is the fact that a similar business model had failed five years previously, as pointed out by industry analyst Guillermo Escofet.
“This is very reminiscent of Blyk – an ad supported network offering free mobile calls and SMS messages targeted at students about five years ago,” he told the BBC. ”They managed to get a fair amount of users but essentially they didn’t raise enough advertising revenue from enough brands. While I don’t know exactly how Samba’s model works I fear there’s the risk this might face the same fate.”