back to article New UK network touts FREE* mobile broadband

The UK's latest mobile operator Samba won't charge punters for its wireless broadband. Instead it will ask customers to watch adverts in exchange for network access. Samba is camping on Three's network and offering almost 7MB of data for every minute of advertising viewed. That's enough for the company to claim 2.5 minutes of …


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  1. Jamie Kitson


    ... using ad-blockers.

    1. LarsG


      A five minute advert for a three minute brows.

      We will end up with the same thingntheynhave in the US on television, you will wonder when the adverts start and the program finishes.

      Also like most adverts on the web we eventually become blind to them and subconsciously ignore them. I can't see this as a long term business proposition.

      Personally I'd pay to be advert free.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *

      Except you didn't read it - you need to click something on the ads - so perhaps if you use an ad-blocker it would not show and no free Internet <doh>

    3. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: *

      Ermm, you have to click and I assume the stream being pushed has run to completion before you get your free quota so ad-blocking would negate it, never register any credits for you to claim!

      Gaming the system....

      Now what you need is an app that streams the ad into the background automatically to build up a nice big stack of credits. So you set up an app to fire off at say 2am while you're asleep, streams enough shitty ads to give you say 50MB of credit to use during the day!

  2. jonathanb Silver badge

    Where do I sign up

    They didn't pick a very googleable word. A search on Google for "samba" comes up with the following

    News articles from other news outlets reporting on the same story

    Some server software for sharing files on a LAN

    Various things to do with Brazilian dancing.

    the Society for AMBulatory Anesthesia[sic], whatever that is

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do I sign up

      Google is blocking them since it interferes with their ad monopoly.

    2. jaduncan

      Re: Where do I sign up

      "Some server software for sharing files on a LAN"

      Jesus fucking Christ. The Register comments section is going downhill.

      1. I think so I am?

        Re: Where do I sign up


        Normal Guy's first thoughts after hearing the word - 'Gyrating female assets and colorful grass skirts and dancing"

        Tech Guy first thought - "Why does my TV only support DLNA when my NAS only does SMB and FTP!"

      2. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Where do I sign up

        No doubt...

  3. a33a

    Seems a good idea for occasional tablet (or other device) users.

    Damn I wish I bought that 3G Playstation Vita now.

  4. SiempreTuna
    Thumb Up

    Reg FreeTards

    "Although not El Reg readers of course: you might be reading this content for free but we know you're all quality people with a high discretionary income"

    The main reasons I have high discretionary income is because I'm so tight.

  5. Richard Ball

    There must be an app for that...

    ... an app that pretends to watch adverts for you without all the clicking and waiting and fingers-in-the-ears.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the fact it's based on Three will kill it anyway?

    1. Andrew 66

      Well, if there coverage everywhere I go is anything to go by, even for free it's an entirely useless offer for me...

  7. Alain Moran

    google not blocking

    Google is not blocking searches for this ... a quick look turns up

  8. ElNumbre


    I was thinking of repurposing an old smartphone as an in car tracker, but can't justify a data contract for it. This is right up my streeet I think - it can sit there showing adverts to my glovebox all day long if it likes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ideal

      I'm pretty sure they will be smart enough to make them interactive (read 'intrusive') otherwise people would do just that - i.e. not watch it. Get a PAYG SIM - the 'data' need only cost a couple (£3-5) of quid a month.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Couple"

        A couple is two.

  9. Jeff 11
    Thumb Up

    Nice, I'll stick a 3G dongle in my lappy and write an app that silently 'consumes' ads in the background and sends them to /dev/null.

    ...Until the network goes bust because everyone starts to do the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I remember when "Frispies" (free ISPs) started in the US while I was out there for a few years. They worked by "stealing" a 1" banner along the top of your screen which they used to show ads in. Of, course, this was in the days of CRT monitors so a little fiddling with the settings and you could shift the display so this banner was "off-screen".

  10. Mr Temporary Handle

    This might have been a candidate for the Ignoble prize for Business if the whole sorry thing hadn't already been done to death *with* variations so many times before.

  11. Don Jefe

    think of the children

    This seems like an OK way to fund a young persons network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: think of the children

      Yeah great idea by making them watch Internet ads for which you have no control - well thought out that one. How about just stumping up the couple of quid it costs to do it properly.

      If people do not watch the ads the advertisers will make no money and quit = service dies. Look didn't even need a crystal ball but it's so obvious.

  12. Jim Carter

    A nice idea, with one critical flaw

    What's to stop someone from turning on the ads and buggering off to cook dinner, make a cup of tea or enjoy super happy private fun time?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A nice idea, with one critical flaw

      It's probably loads of 30-60 second ads to ensure you do have to view them - i.e. click for next etc.

      It's gonna be a mega PITA.

  13. ScottME

    Not worth it

    I definitely don't relish the thought of being forced to sit through an hour and quarter of mind-numbing, soul-destroying advertisements just to get a measly 500MB of wireless data, and I really wonder who would sign up for that.

    There are far better deals. On my Three PAYG SIM I get a month's supply of data (up to 2GB) for a fiver. I'd far sooner cough that up than watch ads.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If people are using around 500-600Mb per month (which does not sound unreasonable) - you can get 1 month SIM cards from Three for under £5 each loaded up with 1Gb 'data' - so think I would rather that than have to click / view adverts.

    The 3 month SIM cards come with 3Gb and you can get them for less than £15 - so most people should be paying about £5/mo for their mobile broadband. I'd certainly not ar$e around for basically 10-15p a day - time is money.

  15. Drefsab

    hmmm already I can think of a nice little app for this, load up the adverts in a hidden frame play them in the background topping up the users bandwidth allowance all without the user seeing a thing.

  16. Robin

    Hang on...

    "Blyk lives on, supplying advertising expertise to Orange"

    The same Blyk whose expertise didn't reach as far as balancing income against outgoings?

    The same Orange who 'simplify' things by making them less simple and more expensive?

    Just checking, carry on.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: Hang on...

      El Reg should have a "Sarcasm of the month award*".

      I nominate your post as it's first entry.

      *Only available to UK residents :)

  17. simonjon

    Old news: Ovivo Mobile launched back in May! this isn't a topical novelty.

    Offers 1GB per month for nowt (well, £5 delivery, converted to credit for overspill at 6p/MB) with a few ads at login.

    Google it!

  18. simonjon
    Paris Hilton

    Where you getting these 1GB / 2GB for £5 deals from Three, then?

    Their website says 1GB for £10.50 per month on mobile broadband PAYG SIM.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where you getting these 1GB / 2GB for £5 deals from Three, then?

      Have a look on Amazon - type in:

      3 Original 1Gb

      ... the 1Gb (1 month) SIMs are currently £4.50 and the 3Gb (3 month) ones are £11.81 - I'd go with the 3 month one as it ships direct from Amazon themselves (not a marketplace vendor) with free shipping and it's a faff changing the SIM every month.

  19. Steven Hollis

    Not the only game in town.

    I've been using Ovivomobile for the past 3 weeks, Again totally free but with 200 mins each month and 512mb data pushed at you at set intervals.

    I really don't understand how either business model will last but of the two Ovivio is better IMHO.

  20. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Advertising-supported businesses.

    Back in the day, my friend used an ISP that let you have free Internet (33.6k modem!) so long as you installed their toolbar and clicked on junk that popped up occasionally.

    They went bust quite quickly, as did a number of similar offerings. The connection was hideously slow and the adverts just got larger and larger and more annoying. Most customers fled before the company actually died.

    Advertising-supported models like that don't really work. A lot of smartphone apps try it but I don't see how the advertisers make their money from it - you can be on Angry Birds Free all day long, it doesn't translate to sales in proportion to the money you have to spend to be there. And the app author really doesn't care because he can offer a £1.99 "no ads" version and make money if his app is any good anyway (so the adverts are really his way to annoy customers into giving HIM money). Sure, you can make money if you hit a big title by accident but who'd have thought Angry Birds would be that successful and who knows what the next title will be?

    Now, Google, for example isn't the same - the advertisers spend millions to get on there but they at least have a chance of translating into some money for the bigger companies and Google provide a wealth of tools to target your advertising (even on smartphone, now, I believe). Otherwise, everyone I know who thought they were being a genius and advertising their tiny little 1-man company on Google ads either burned through all their cash in literally minutes with no return or could not measure what the return was (with trackable Internet ads? Come on...) and blindly pumped money into it.

    Advertising-funded business is a fickle and dangerous area to stray into, especially without a lot of knowledge of the industry and big players on your books. In this case, your viewers won't convert - you've expressly targeted cheapskates who don't want to buy a contract - even with a phone they already own -which is something that 90% of us have now, or even PAYG, and who are willing to sacrifice a lot of convenience for that "freeness". Just how much do you think they will spend on the adverts that they will be trained to ignore within seconds of using the SIM?

    Never target your business at a customer that is going to extremes to NOT spend money with you. Like the ISP who tried to run lots of state-of-the-art complicated and expensive telephony hardware on the basis of you watching ads on your 640x480 screen, you'll go under. The people who are your main base of customers are already determined NOT to spend money, and quite likely to circumvent anything you can put in their way. As such, your income source (the advertisers) will spike and then die off very quickly.

    You want to shock me into changing my SIM to your company? Offer me something nobody else does, not add to the existing tripe that everyone already sees too much of and hates. Like, oh, I don't know, decent roaming rates around Europe.

  21. Steve the Cynic

    Mild fail here...

    The bulk of my mobile data usage is IMAP email and google[*]maps, with a bit of iMessage thrown in when the signal is good enough. (I work in a building with a metal cage round it for some reason, aesthetics mostly, I suspect, and mobile signal quality inside is atrocious. Curiously, mobile signals from Belgium are often stronger than the FT/Orange ones.) I don't normally look at the web on a phone, mostly because the screen is way, way too small. So this obviously isn't the plan for me...

    And I have a practical question: does the advertising count against the data allowance you'e earned?

    1. ed2020

      Re: Mild fail here...

      According to their FAQ watching ads does not come out of your data allowance providing you use a supported browser.

      My sim arrived today and the service looks perfect for me. The majority of my tablet usage is on a wifi network but it's nice to have a little free data for use when I'm not in range of a wifi network. A lot of PAYG data seems to expire if not used within a set period. This offering addresses that issue... as long as they're around for.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are that tight you won't pay £4/mo for 1Gb of Internet usage do you really deserve to be on here - it's less than 15p a day.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Along similar lines back in the days when people were still just about using phone boxes I remember encountering one which had a new feature to handle the "do I have the right change" issue ... if you listened 60 secs of ads then you got a couple of mins of cal credit.

  24. Andrew James

    As long as you can "watch" the ads at a time convenient to bank up browsing time when you need it, its seems ok to me. I could sit watching tv at night with the phone showing ads and just click the screen every now and then. No big deal.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a reader

    Please send a high discretionary income.

  26. Andrew 60

    Back in 1999, while at uni, I signed up with an ISP that not only gave you free access in exchange for watching ads, but actually paid you too. Obviously they didn't last long, but I do remember getting cheques for around £15, equivalent to 15 pints in the union bar back then.

    Initially you could just leave it connected and go out for the night, getting paid the whole time. Then they did a software update that required the mouse to be moved every minute or so to get paid. This was shortly followed by some third party software that made the mouse pointer move continuously, and this in turn was followed by their bankruptcy.

  27. Pete the not so great

    Mass audience

    They'll never achieve the numbers


    The law?

    How do they get consent for interception/surveillance from BOTH parties to the communication? (per RIPA). Ans; they don't.

    How do they get copyright licence for duplicating, processing, and commercially exploiting the content of a [copyright protected] communication? Ans; they don't.

    It looks to me like Samba suffers the same problems with the law that were identified by FIPR when they examined Phorm.

    Agree with sentiments above, this dog will die.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: The law?

      1) They don't need consent from both parties. I can tape an entire telephone conversation without telling the person the other end. It's just considered polite. And RIPA only affects state investigations conducted across everyone, not singly-identified private individuals signed up to companies they've permitted to do things (or else all Google ads would also fall foul - they are reading my email just the same, and without the other parties explicit consent!).

      2) They don't need a copyright licence if their terms of use grant it to them automatically. You used it, you agreed to their T&C's, hope you read them carefully. Same way that the copyright on my Google emails allows them to store them and scan them for viruses and advertising keywords.

      So, please, stop talking rubbish until you have a clue what you're talking about.


        Re: The law?

        1) They do need consent from both parties... per the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. You might be able to tape a telephone conversation, your communication service provider cannot without a warrant.

        2) They do need a copyright licence, obtained in advance, from the creator of the web site. Commercially exploiting copyright protected works without a licence is a criminal offence.


  29. Burkhard Kloss

    bit pointless

    What's the point of advertising to people who are too skint or too tight to pay for mobile broadband? Surely they're likely to be in the same position when it comes to buying whatever you're advertising?

  30. DrXym

    It won't work

    What sort of people want free broadband with such horrible terms. Freeloaders, the unemployed and foreigners. I don't see any of those being lucrative to advertisers. Aside from that, forcing people to watch ads to use broadband is self defeating. People will simply the device upside down, the volume down, develop tools to defeat the advertising, or develop browsing strategies to minimize interference (e.g. open multiple tabs so the advertising tab can be ignored until it is finished). And when that happens an arms race will begin, advertising rates will plummet and the whole scheme will collapse. It's a waste of time.

    1. vagabondo

      Re: It won't work

      I suppose they could aim for the same audience that watch the TV shopping channels. I don't understand how they make money either, but just like the 419 scams they seem to stay in business.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How much data is used in streaming a 1 minute ad? Unless we're talking very basic text/graphic ads they're surely going to have more of their bandwidth going to providing adverts than actually providing a service? that's insane.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    500MB mobile broadband add on on O2 costs around £3 a month

    2.5 mins a day watching ads x 30 days = 75 mins.

    So they think 1.25 hours of my time is worth £3? How insulting.

  33. ed2020

    Hmmm... It seems you can open multiple browser tabs and play all your adverts simultaneously.

  34. Encorespod


    Remember the X-Stream network? They offered dialup internet on 0800 numbers in return for an ad banner across the top of the screen, of course everyone soon worked out you could kill the banner and the dialup continued, then they changed it... so everyone just took to hiding the banner.

    They'd do 'free weekends' where for 48hrs you could get online for nothing and quickly realised that everyone would jump onto their modems bang on midnight and stay there, so they then switched to kicking people every couple of hours.

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