back to article One ad-free day: Three UK to block adverts across network in June

Mobile operator Three is pushing ahead with plans to block ads on its network in the UK during a one-day trial next month. Sam Barker, an analyst at Juniper Research, said other operators are likely to follow suit. "Although the operators are likely to push this as a consumer-focused benefit, the reality is that the operators …

  1. Michael B.

    I'm not convinced this is a good idea at a network level since there are a number of sites that refuse to show content unless you enable ads, Channel 4's site for one. So blocking at the network level, unless there is a user defined whitelist that is easy to manipulate at the browser level, is probably going to cause more headaches in the long term.

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: refuse to show content

      Now I'm not an expert in this but I think these sites detect whether you've got an ad-blocker installed, browser side. They wouldn't be able to detect at a network level. I know my users can still get to these sites even though our web filtering software blocks the ads.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: refuse to show content

        "Now I'm not an expert in this but I think these sites detect whether you've got an ad-blocker installed, browser side"

        Me either, but I can confirm that remote proxy blocking can also trigger these, I have squid using a URL black list, which ITV complains about with no ad blocker in the browser.

    2. Natalie Gritpants

      Well, if the blocking is by a large operator they are going to notice a massive drop in traffic and probably back down.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Why would they back down? If you're not viewing ads then you're just a drain on resources.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This could be a test for a new product offering from Three

          Especially since it is just for a day, the web sites won't back down. If anything it will cause more to put up such protection, due to the worry that customers will like the network level blocking and request it be added as a feature.

          Now if Three could add it, and customers would pay extra for it, and the revenue would be split with the site operators that might help solve the problem of "who pays for the content if there are no ads". Maybe that's the idea behind all this - Three wants to find out if customers would be willing to pay for this as a permanent service.

        2. William 3 Bronze badge

          When they start hosting those ads themselves they won't be blocked will they.

    3. Dwarf

      @Michael B.

      And when the remote site's traffic level drops to zero, I wonder what they will decide to do then.

      Keep enforcing the "we must advertise to nobody" or "we must change our approach"

      Personally, I believe that the internet should not filter at any point.

      Let the endpoints decide what they want to do and let standards sort out the misuse of technology

  2. Craig 2

    In theory a good idea. However, who knows what types of traffic will be blocked in the future since they will already have the filtering software in place.

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: filtering software in place

      They already have this in place as you can restrict access to, for instance, porn, over the data network until you opt in as an adult. That's been around for years.

      What's new is the targeting of adverts rather than fairly non controversial stuff like adult content.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: filtering software in place

        They already have this in place as you can restrict access to ...

        Shame Windows Update, Windows Store et al. aren't on the list...

    2. Wibble

      Block bootstap bloat

      These endless bloated bootstrap websites that run huge JavaScript libraries and monster images which aren't optimised would be a start. Whatever happened to svelte programming?

      1. joeW

        Re: Block bootstap bloat

        Management want "a responsative webby site" so it will look good on whatever i-shiney-thing is flavour of the month around the boardroom table. Sure boss, can do you one using all custom in-house css and raw javascript. It will be small, fast, and do *exactly* what you want, and it will take three weeks (not including testing). Or we can lob a big ol' ball of bootstrap and jQuery at it, get it polished off by lunchtime tomorrow, and save my energy for doing nice svelte stuff on my own weekend projects.

        Tough call alright.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Block bootstap bloat

        Just stop 'reading' the Rag! (we all know that's what your hinting at)

        I say 'reading' in the loosest sense of the word.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

    I'm puzzled by this statement. Either it's the usual, auto-generated fluff with no sense whatsoever, or they want... what? charge advertisers to pass their blocking? Surely they wouldn't mean the "revolutionise" as "kill", would they? For all their posturing about customers coming first, etc, they're a business, and business is about MORE!!!! PROFIT!!!!

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

      Move will "monetise" mobile advertising. Yep, I reckon you've got that right, AC.

    2. thesykes

      Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

      It could, if the advertisers would follow a few simple rules, then most people would probably stop blocking adverts.

      No animation or video.

      No sound.

      No pop ups.

      Keep it simple, a static image, some text and a hyperlink to a product page, no tracking.

      Do that, I won't block you.

      Will it happen? Probably not, the advertisers will just try and find ever more annoying methods to irritate people, thinking they are really providing a useful service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

        No "new mail icon" at the bottom of mobile apps.

      2. Dr. Mouse

        Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

        "Keep it simple, a static image, some text and a hyperlink to a product page, no tracking."

        I agree, I do not block such ads either.

        The Register has incurred my wrath on this with their "change the whole page" ads. You know, the ones which change the colours and put adverts in the "wasted" side areas, exactly the area I tend to click to bring focus back to a web page or to allow me to scroll. Before that started happening, I had this site whitelisted, and now I don't even know if they still use them.

        If adverts are non-intrusive to how you use the site, preferably text only or non-invasive images, and clearly labelled as adverts, people don't mind. When they are shoved in your face or interfere with the content you are there to see, they start looking for ways to block.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

          Same here - I removed El Reg from my whitelist when they started doing that.

          1. Known Hero

            Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

            Same here - I removed El Reg from my whitelist when they started doing that.

            I mean Ditto

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

          This: "If adverts are non-intrusive to how you use the site, preferably text only or non-invasive images, and clearly labelled as adverts, people don't mind"

          Yes, SOME people do mind and as i include myself in that fraction, i fully intend to block all adverts irrespective to either where they are on the page or how "annoying" they are.

          I dont want adverts on any device i use.

          1. Freddie

            Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

            @cornz1: Doesn't this remove the only common revenue stream for the websites you use? Would you pay for an ad free version? Personally, I'd like to know how much they'd have to charge (for an ad free version) to break even as if it isn't too high I'd really value this (and it would encourage me to use the site I'd paid for, etc.).

            1. GavinC

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

              Ad revenue per user is normally tiny - for a website I run it's around 0.5p per visit. So assuming someone visiting daily, then that works out at about around 9p per visitor, per month. I'm not sure how this compares to other sites, something like El Reg can probably command a much higher advertising fee than I can, but you will still be talking about around 50p per visitor per month.

              But bear in mind that most people just wont pay at all, so even if you introduced a fee as low as 10p a month, you'd still be looking at a huge drop off in traffic, so you would need to counter this by increasing the price proportionately. Also bear in mind the extra costs and complexity of giving everyone user accounts, managing those, handling payments etc etc, and you can soon see why the vast majority of sites prefer to use the advertising business model.

              1. Dr. Mouse

                Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

                There is one site I use, F1Fanatic, which offers an ad free option. It costs £1/month and I'm happy to pay. Indeed, I'd be happy to pay the same for El Reg. It's a small price to pay to support a site I regularly visit without putting up with irritating adverts!

                Although much more than that and I'd probably balk...

              2. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

                Ad revenue per user is normally tiny - for a website I run it's around 0.5p per visit.

                - GavinC

                For many of the smaller (ie. hobbist, SoHo business) websites I've advised on, we've come to the conclusion that only carrying carefully selected merchant referrals eg. related retail outlets and books etc. on Amazon is more remunerative than supporting ad's, even though they all make use of Google Adwords to encourage traffic. Even so the best is only generating sufficient to cover their domain and hosting fee's (hence why we took a serious look at the value of running ad's). So my experience seems to match yours.

                However, all those 0.5p's do add up, particularly if you are among the top websites (see for the top 50 in many countries).

                As for the advertising business model, I've no problem with the model as it applies to 'my' websites: I pay an ad network to advertise my business, likewise, if I desire it, I can sell space on my website to the ad networks. The problems arise in the ad delivery network.

                With print media, the ad networks paid the publishers for the space used, included in the fee was a contribution to the physical production and distribution of the publication, including a commission to the newsagent. So I the customer can walk into my local supermarket and pick up a 'free' paper containing adverts where everyone in the delivery chain has received a commission. Currently, it is this part of the digital ad model that is broken.

                Hence this is why I support Three, because currently there is no obvious benefit to them in distributing a high volume of ad's with respect to content their users are wanting to access. Additionally, the current situation distorts the market in that there is no price difference (to the ad network) between an ad delivered over the mobile network and the fixed line network, even though the mobile network is more capacity constrained and costly to maintain...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising


              I would be quite happy for virgin, BT, Talk Talk, et al to bang an extra 10'er a month on my bill for totally advert free viewing. The sites can offer the choice to the user as to whether they want the ads or not. My ISP can run the blocking software dependent on the cookie I set when I visit the site.

              THEY can sort it out as to who gets the £. But that seems to me to be a reasonable solution.

          2. GavinC

            Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

            > I dont want adverts on any device i use.

            Then be prepared to get the credit card out and pay a membership fee for every site you use. Websites cost money to run, its only fair those running the sites get paid for their efforts. The only way of doing this is either advertising or memberships.

            What's so bad about a few graphic / text ads?

            browsing the web is a privilege not a right. Everyone wants everything for nothing these days!

            1. fung0

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

              GavinC: "Then be prepared to get the credit card out and pay a membership fee for every site you use."

              Credit card at the ready! To paraphrase: "What's so bad about... actually paying for what you want?" Seriously: you don't walk into a store and look at brainwashing tapes to get a discount on a pair of shoes.

              Have you looked at what Flattr and Flattr Plus are doing? You allocate a fixed sum per month, as little or as much as you like. At the end of the month, the money gets divided among the sites you use most (provided they also subscribe to Flattr). Today, regular visitors generate on the order of 1 Euro per month in ad revenue for their favorite sites. So even a 10 Euro monthly budget could be enough to eliminate all advertising forever. (There's no reason other providers couldn't offer competing monetization schemes.)

              Would I pay that much to restore the direct connection between content creators and users, and take deceitful, money-grubbing, intrusive, entitled advertisers entirely out of the loop? In a nanosecond, I would.

              1. GavinC

                Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

                No, I've never heard of Flattr, but it is something I will be looking in to. Thanks.

            2. Dwarf

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising


              "Browsing the web is a privilege not a right."

              Nope, you are completely wrong here.Its like gas and water, its part of how we live today, Even the Government seem to agree that we need it - presumably to reduce their costs and allow them to track us ??

              Marketing is simple. I don't let people come up to my door and try and sell me their stuff. I don't let them do it on the phone, I won't let them do it on the TV (I don't watch TV) and I won't let them do it on the Internet. If there are those moving /flashing /adverts at the stations with the rumored face tracking, I deliberately look away.

              There is sort of a theme here - my eyeballs, my decisions on what I buy and when.

              1. Triggerfish

                Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising @Dwarf

                Although I somewhat agree with what you say, what's your opinion on sites you browse for free? Do you think it's a fair model that they have to pay to maintain it for you? Whats the solution if there's no revenue for the site owner to keep their site going?

            3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

              Many ads bog down the CPU and heat up the PC, not to mention drain batteries.

              I haven't given permission for any of that to happen.

              Not to mention the security implications.

              I really don't care if my favourite websites turn into hobby projects. I never found fault in the less glossy stuff in the early days of the web.

              There is no RIGHT to earn a living from website maintenance.

              Regarding not having a right to the Internet: I pay a handsome penny every month for that privilege to my service provider. I blood well have a right to access the Internet.

              Look, it's so simple: make ads static and non intrusive and the whole problem is gone.

              Screw all animation BS.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

              I didn't say I want something for nothing, I said I didn't want adverts.

        3. Triggerfish

          Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

          The Register has incurred my wrath on this with their "change the whole page" ads. You know, the ones which change the colours and put adverts in the "wasted" side areas, exactly the area I tend to click to bring focus back to a web page or to allow me to scroll. Before that started happening, I had this site whitelisted, and now I don't even know if they still use them.

          It seems almost perverse the type of ads they choose considering the clientele.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

        Good old WAP browsing...

        1. Silly_Monkey

          Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

          Yay. Or bring back the Gopher.

      4. Mark 85

        @thesykes -- Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

        That could (in some fantasy universe) work. Given the state of affairs in this one.. it won't. It will take a concerted effort by users and content providers to get the advertisers to clean up their act. If the content providers get on board and push back, it will. Right now, they take the money and look the other way at what's being served.. ads, malvertising, etc.

        The ad folks are driving the content providers and until the content providers say "we won't accept your ads until...." the situation will never change.

    3. NotBob

      Re: move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising

      Surely they wouldn't mean the "revolutionise" as "kill", would they?

      Few revolutions in society are without bloodshed...

  4. caffeine addict

    As a Three customer, can I opt out of this? Or define what type of ads I want to block?

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: can I opt out of this?

      At the moment you need to opt-in to the 24 hour trial. After that, I suspect you'd need to opt out in a manner that will be very awkward to find/do since the benefits to Three as a carrier are obvious.

      I guess it depends how well the trial goes.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: can I opt out of this?

        By opting into the trial you are also agreeing to be telephoned by a Three droid at some point afterwards to discuss your experiences.

    2. thesykes

      can I opt out of this?

      Just received the email from Three, it's opt in for the trial and works on network served stuff and not on wifi connections.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: As a Three customer

      Three have a microsite where you can sign up to the trial:

      There isn't an article as yet on about this. However, my assumption and interpretation of the wording used, is that this trial only applies to internet browsing on Three handsets (APN: Devices tethered to handsets (via mobile hotspot) and those that use the mobile broadband service (APN: 3internet), are not included in the trial.

  5. Valeyard


    if publishers aren't going to get any revenue for mobiles why would they put any effort into making a mobile site at all now?

    (depending i suppose on how much people connect to wireless)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: publishers

      People were putting effort into making mobile sites currently?

    2. m0rt

      Re: publishers

      I, personally, would be happy if they didn't. I find most mobile sites incredibly frustrating and usually click on 'Request Desktop Site'

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: publishers is much, much better than the desktop version. And far fewer ads.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: publishers

      If this take off in a big way, it will force publishers to take direct responsibility for hosting what appears on their websites instead of simply acting as a front door for malware laden ad brokers.

  6. JimmyPage

    Hmmm ... of course if the advertisers *pay* for the data usage ...

    Will this force a debate around net neutrality ?

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Hmmm ... of course if the advertisers *pay* for the data usage ...

      Probably not because net neutrality is a bit of a non-issue on the right pondian side. far less huffing and puffing goes on about it.

      Don't forget that the US operators effectively brought it on themselves with all the dodgy dealings they got up to like super cookies and bill stuffing. Plus that fact that there is less historic cross fertilisation between Cable TV operators and network operators over here. i.e. by and large the UK network operators don't think about gouging their customers in quite the same way.

      Just look at the comparative prices for connections. (yea yea I know the US is bigger and they alledgedly gouge the cities to serve the country folks. Not.).

  7. Nifty Silver badge

    Does this mean that Three will stop spamming my SMS inbox with ads?

    1. IsJustabloke


      did you ask them to stop? every SMS I got from them finished with how to opt out... I followed the instructions, no more texts (except service realted ones of course but I don't mind those)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Joe Harrison


    ...having inked a deal with Israeli startup Shine, which produces the network-level blocking tech Three will be using.

    They could have inked a much cheaper deal with me (say, 4 pints) and I would have shown them how to use host files

  9. Pat 11


    Isn't this Three taking control so they can then monetise it? Which could be a problem for blockers as they mostly work on url substring matching. If all the url says is things could get tricky.

    1. fung0

      Re: Landgrab?

      This would be heinous, indeed. But there's no evidence of such a plan in the article. Might as well reserve the condemnation until Three actually makes some move in this direction.

  10. Unep Eurobats
    Paris Hilton

    “The current ad model is broken"

    Translation: "Carriers don't make any money from the current ad model."

    Cynical? Moi?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: “The current ad model is broken"

      They do make money. Everyone pays for bandwidth.

      "Carriers [want to] make [ludicrously more] money from the current ad model."

      FIFY. :)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: “The current ad model is broken"

        Everyone pays for bandwidth.

        So how do Three make money from the ad networks? They don't!

        Once Three starts to receive payments from the ad networks for the distribution of their products, Three will be able to offer differing levels of service and subscription to their customers.

        Basically, we're getting around to implementing the micro payment system that was much talked about in the late 1990's...

  11. Camilla Smythe

    Might be nice to know how Shine does it.

    I know not a lot but if it involves DPI then it is likely to be illegal because it performs an interception of communications whereby both parties have not given consent to that interception. Not a problem if we Brexit and/or Mrs May gets her way[1]

    OTOH if they are basing it, assuming pron filters work along similar lines, on DNS whereby your phone is forced via its SIM to use their DNS such that resolves to then it might appear to be less dodgy.

    In effect they will be providing something similar to a 'hosts' file to their customers... but you might notice the way I have phrased the concept.

    [1]If Mrs May gets her way all ISPs will be forced to install full on DPI equipment into their networks in order to satiate the maw of the Centralised DataBase.[2]

    [2]Apparently that is going to cost quite a bit of money so it would be a good idea for ISPs to take control of the Advertising Market.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Might be nice to know how Shine does it.

      but if it involves DPI then it is likely to be illegal because it performs an interception of communications whereby both parties have not given consent to that interception

      Suspect that the service will require customers to opt-in ie. give their consent. Websites will give their consent by either serving content to hosts residing on Three's network (easily determined by IP address analysis) or like they do with Adblock, detect the presence of the blocking service and decide what action to take. But given the vast majority of websites don't ask my permission for them to automatically allow ad networks to eavesdrop on our conversation and finger my browser and they have failed in every court case so far to prevent the usage of ad blockers by end users I don't see any problems arising from this quarter...

  12. Vimes

    Does this mobile ad blocking fit the definition of a 'value added service' where RIPA is concerned?

    Because if it does then they need the permission of the sender of the communication as well as the recipient with regards to the interception needed for ad blocking.

    Asking for permission beforehand is an improvement on the situation we had with BT/Phorm trials, but I'd still be interested to know how precisely they'll get that consent from website operators before they start intercepting the traffic. Well done for asking the users but they represent only one out of the two parties that need to consent to this.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Don't think so

      It is effectively a slightly broken DNS.

      There is no interception, your mobile browser asks Three where it can find the advert and Three says "Hell if I know"

  13. FuzzyWuzzys

    I appreciate this is money and companies will lose trade but as usual it was a group that ruined it for everyone. If the ad men had held back and made sure we weren't bombarded every 0.3 secs with ads on every website then maybe we'd have more sympathy. Instead they abused our trust and now they'll have to reap the rewards of what they've done, and sadly the collateral damage with be companies further down the chain who may lose out because of the stupid, shortsighted, greedy ad men.

  14. Chris 211

    glossy crack

    Bring it on, cant wait. I am fedup of being advertised to constantly, I purposely dont use a service advertised to me, if I need something I go and search it out. If I cant get to websites that demand adverts then I'll never visit that website again. Demand 4 etc being a good example of a site i will never visit because of adverts.

    .. oh and Leyland Trade can stick that paint pot up its glossy crack! I am fedup of the same bloody advert on TV.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: glossy crack

      Sounds like you're opposed to *all* adverts on principle.

      It's just about impossible to avoid all products or services that are advertised, all businesses advertise to some extent.

      1. Known Hero

        Re: glossy crack

        I Manage to avoid about every single advert out there, I don't have a TV Arial, all my content is streamed (some legal some not due to availability and not being able to get it legally). I don't live in a city, The only place I see ad's is on Facebook and I am able to ignore them.

        If I need something, a company started a way of searching for items a while back and its a pretty good product. I just search for it on the web, no needing to remember all the crappy ads, really never understood the scattergun approach, seemed so wasteful imo. Don't think I have ever purchased a product after see'ing an advert yet (I also have a shit memory though).

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: glossy crack

        Yes, all businesses advertise, but that doesn't mean we have to enjoy being advertised to. All humans shit, but that doesn't mean I like watching it, or (since I don't) that I'm opposed to all humans.

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    Ah well.

    I'm sure the ad pushers will just wait until the EU rules on net neutrality.........and then sue the mobile operators up, down, backwards and sideways.

    1. fung0

      Re: Ah well.

      It's a possibility, in this limited instance. But who will they sue when all users install ad blocking on their own devices?

      Mobile is already the advertisers' last refuge, because ad blocking is not as easy to implement on closed platforms as it is on the desktop. But it's starting to happen.

    2. Known Hero

      Re: Ah well.

      all mobile providers have to do, is sell it as a service. Job done. its not neutrality, it's a product requested by the end user.

  16. foo_bar_baz

    Google will be thrilled

    This might get interesting, if it goes any further.

    As much as I hate many ads, it's a fact that much of Internet content is paid for by adverts. This is huge challenge to the current business model of many online services. Free stuffs, no ads, cheap internet, have cake, eat cake.

    All in all a stupid move by a pipe provider. The days of walled gardens are long gone, and this just smells like extortion: "Hey Google, nice advert. Shame if something were to happen to it.."

    1. Patrician

      Re: Google will be thrilled

      Or it could encourage the ad community to get it's self in order and produce ads that don't interfere with the content...

  17. Vimes

    If Three stop acting like a dumb pipe does that mean we get to stop treating them as such?

    They can also take legal responsibility for all the pirating that goes on through their network too amongst other things, and if they don't like that idea perhaps they ought to stick to being a dumb pipe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: dumb pipe

      As long as there is an option to opt in or out of the ad-blocking regime, it probably doesn't affect their dumb pipe status any more than the existing porn-blocking option does.

      1. Vimes

        Re: dumb pipe @anon coward

        I don't think that the porn blocking is any better either, and in some instances seemed to involve sharing web browsing with a 3rd party (*cough*Bluecoat*cough*).

        It's also worth mentioning IMO that the current arrangement is little better than a gentlemen's agreement between government and the ISPs. This in itself doesn't have the force of the law, and just because the ISPs start whining 'but the government told us to...' does not excuse them from breaking the law, nor does it excuse them from interfering with how people associate when it comes to their online activities.

        I also seem to recall a ruling in the EU courts last year that basically made the current arrangements with regards to porn filtering highly questionable if not downright illegal. There were suggestions at the time that Cameron would make the filters a legal requirement in response to this ruling, but all we seem to have had since then is a promise to add age checks to all porn websites in the last Queens speech (<insert Picard face-palm image here>).

        It really would be laughable if it weren't the case that the bumbling ministers have the power to cause real trouble for the entire population thanks to the combination their downright incompetence and inability to recognise when they're getting things wrong until it's too late (just look at the current mess surrounding the psychoactive substances bill if you want proof of this, or other problems in the home office, or problems at the MoJ, or... well you get the idea).

  18. David 138

    Is this the start of subscription internet access? Netflix style? Or even worse micro transactions. People need to get paid and if you are too cheap to pay then piss off. If you dont like adverts then just stop using the internet.

    1. fung0

      Fortunately, most of us are not "too cheap to pay." Netflix, for example, is doing extremely well, even up against so-called "free" (i.e. ad-supported) TV. So are HBO and a bunch of other premium-priced distribution systems.

      On the Web, having direct payment as a widely-available alternative would totally change the balance of power, and force advertisers to rethink their current assumption that the universe orbits around them.

      1. Known Hero

        What I get pissed about is the business model of Make em pay AND show them ads :/ That is what drives me to piracy :/ e.g. DVD's

        Thank god for Spotify, looking forward to a Film equivalent.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Micropayments or some other scheme amounting roughly to what sites get from adverts would be vastly preferable for a number of reasons:

      - the current ad business model is a privacy disaster (for a typical user, at least)

      - ads are commercial propaganda designed to manipulate and mislead; they undermine the key premise of an efficient market economy i.e. that of transactions between well-informed parties

      - the Google-dominated ad market is a market failure / disaster in its in its own right: this is essentially not a market, but a set of interlocking multi-sided markets (search, Android, Google Analytics, Google Maps, ... and the ad distribution itself) where even some of the component markets are practically uncontestable monopolies due to the network effect

      - a single company's de facto control of funding for news and other content is a freedom of speech disaster waiting to happen

      - ad funded is not really free: the cost is added to the price of products and services; content providers could actually be paid somewhat more if the admen in the middle were cut out

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        "well-informed parties"

        Some might argue that Ads are a way of increasing knowledge of the products in the market.

        "Google-dominated ad market"

        Google's share of the market is roughly the same as Facebook's (and both are less than 25%)

        "single company's de facto control"

        See above, not true.

        1. Pseu Donyme

          >Some might argue...

          There is that. At the same time ads are commercial propaganda (i.e. designed not to inform, but to manipulate). At any rate there is a better way on-line: search paid by its users (with, say, micropayments).

          >"Google-dominated ad market"

          DoubleClick's (=Google) ad servers market share of 69 % * seems dominant to me; this seems the most relevant single figure to the freedom of speech -angle mentioned above - maybe along with a global search market share of 71 % / 95 % (desktop / mobile) **.

          * (as of 26MAY2016)

          ** / (April 2016)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Advertisers pay to be exempt.

    Didn't see this in previous postings, but isn't this three just seeing the money flowing through their network for advertising, and wanting a chunk of it. I'm sure they'll happily let it through the filter, if paid.

  20. Dick Emery

    I've had sites spot I am using Adblock (uBlock actually) and those that put a popup over the content I block that too.

  21. thedarke

    This is a shakedown dressed up as something noble

    So Three, who profit from people using their network to browse the internet, are seeking to deprive those who produce the content from the means that they monetize that content. It's basically, mass piracy on a corporate level- they know bandwidth doesn't cost them anything, they've just decided to bill that way, and they're customers then point out the stupidity of that billing model and they kick the dog and try and strong arm them into giving them a free lunch. Expect more paywalls- content isn't produced for free, so why should it be consumed without cost?

    This will end up in court- it will be over in less than a week. If EE follow, they'll get their asses handed to them by the likes of Google (who run the largest mobile ad network and have FAR better lawyers). Hope the morons who thought this up get done in exactly the same way the guys who run the Pirate Bay- legally and ethically it's exactly the same argument, it's just one was three guys and the other is a multi-billion pound corporation. No nobility here, just not wanting to invest in their walled gardens so are acting like a cartel (again).

    And it's laughable they're pointing to privacy- these are the same network providers that keep having breach after breach of their backends which are not encrypted. What utter bollocks.

    For the 'I hate ads' crowd- question: would you pay to not have ads? Because actually, that's the choice you're facing.

    1. Hstubbe

      Re: This is a shakedown dressed up as something noble

      I already pay to have ad-free content, have been for years. Stop riding that particular dead horse. No, you can not make money by infecting my machines with your crappy ad networks, go find some idiot who doesn't care about his/her nude pics and banking details ending up in the wrong hands.

      1. thedarke

        Re: This is a shakedown dressed up as something noble

        That's down the individual ad networks, not the publishers. Like fuck Three are considering that at all. The network level block they're proposing isn't mobile web ads (which I absolutely agree is on the ad networks to screen to ensure they are not malware- it's unacceptable they take money for ads that are malicious- it's akin to handling stolen goods). It's all ads- including native ads, which at least when provided by the big networks- are quite benign (beyond the fact that the platform owners are really vociferous about what you can and cannot track or get).

        It's not a morally black and white situation- there are shades of grey. But Three and EE are not being noble, this is about profits and not investing in their infrastructure- and playing 'burn the witch' with ads. If they were so concerned about privacy and bandwidth usage they could have signed partnerships with the likes of AdMob (owned by Google) to 1) exclude their data usage from any bandwidth usage ala the Netflix deal and 2) to get a written guarantee of minimum standards of privacy. Instead they go for the blockade- that tells you all you need to know about the thinking behind it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got a retina iMac.

  23. Paul 87

    As much as I loathe adverts on the internet, any network level blocking is a bad thing, it's censorship plain and simple, whether it's blocking advertising, or blocking access to the news, no network provider should be making this kind of decision.

    Just because they can, doesn't mean they should.

    Also, why do they have the right to experiment on us as customers, we pay for a service, and suddenly they're removing a portion of it, without our consent. What's to stop them doing this again in the future with say, Netflix?

  24. William 3 Bronze badge

    Personally I don't see it as blocking ads.

    I see it as blocking spam from unknown third parties that I never requested.

    I do the same on my network.

    You can connect any device, visit any website, and you'll see no spam.

    The websites are free to show adverts, I've not blocked their domains.

    So Dear Register,

    You're more than welcome to show me adverts. I haven't blocked them. I haven't blocked at all.

    What I have blocked is spam domains, domains that I never asked for, and that pose a security threat to my network.

    I have absolutely no moral issues about blocking spam, I don't cry over my spam folder in my inbox, why should I cry about moving spam from a webpage in just the same way.

    Your Sincerely

    I hate Spam.

  25. nilfs2

    Back to the .gif ad days

    If Ads can't be injected anymore, then website owners would probably go back to pushing ads like in the old days, in the form of a banner or a gif image somewhere on the webpage, the only affected parties would be ad services like Google, Facebook and the likes.

  26. energystar

    Would sound better if -instead of 'blocked'- 'heavily slimed and managed' was said.

    1. David Roberts

      Heavily slimed?

      I think that is what happens when you don't block ads.


      Something needs to be done about advertising.

      Plus points - advertising is a ubiquitous micro payment mechanism funding large and very small websites. I noted some freetard further up saying web browsing was a right because it was a utility just like gas and electricity. No. You could argue that about an internet (not web) connection but the content on the internet has to be paid for somehow. You pay for connection and bandwidth. This money does not go to content providers. Web sites are not like gas which is paid for by your supplier.

      Minus points - price per click is now so low that any quality checking has gone right out of the window. To keep increasing the volume of ads served and paid for the ad servers just push anything. Ad serving is getting like derivative trading. There are so many levels of re-direction that it is almost impossible to monitor the source sites of adverts and especially malverts.

      Something needs to be done. Probably a quality assurance gateway which will block ad provider sites if they serve malware or overly large or complex ads. Funded by advertisers who can't be arsed to do their own quality checks. Policed by network providers who can block the ad service if it doesn't police the advertisers properly.

      Is this where 3 is going? Who knows? Probably not, but someone should.

  27. jms222


    Who remembers the Ultravox track "One (Small) Day" ? Just thought I'd mention it.

  28. just another employee



    A few advertisers may lose more money by losing one advertising channel to some customers than...

    ....the whole of the UK may lose if we vote to leave the EU?


  29. Slx

    As much as I hate ads, is this even legal?

    They're interfering with other people's content. If the end user decides to do that on a mobile device or a computer themselves, that's one thing, but for a whole network to just strip out certain content from webpages sounds like it's going to cause major problems.

    I could also see certain websites just blocking traffic to Three IP addresses as there's no point in them serving content to Three customers without ads as it's basically just getting things FOC.

    I mean, can you imagine a cable company stripping ads from TV channels, they wouldn't have much content left before long.

    It sounds to me like Three want a piece of the advertising pie and this is an end to net neutrality.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      I mean, can you imagine a cable company stripping ads from TV channels

      Yes I can!

      they wouldn't have much content left before long.

      TopGear is TopGear regardless of cable company and channel, however, it is much more pleasurable watching TopGear say on BBC, no ad's, than on a channel with high levels of advertising...

      The issue is all about how does the cable company get paid for providing it's service and the extent to which either it (ie. you), pay's a content provider (eg. the BBC) to carry a particular channel, or the content provider (eg. ITV) pays to have their channel available on the cable company's network.

      Additionally, remember on the web there are no real bandwidth restrictions or QoS guarantees. So a TV channel is free to do whatever it likes within it's fixed bandwidth channel allocation because it does not impact on other channels or customers of the cable company. So it is obvious that someone is taking the p*ss.

      1. Slx

        The "content" (not a fan of that word) has to be paid for somehow though. Otherwise it wouldn't be produced anymore as there would be no business model to fund it.

        If it's not ad backed, it's going to have to be a subscription model and time and time again it's been shown that consumers are only willing to subscribe to a few key services. When you start throwing up paywalls, nobody will cough up unless it's a really massive content provider like Netflix, Spotify etc.

  30. PassiveSmoking

    I'm really in two minds about this.

    On the one hand, I've raged against ads. I hate them and I believe them to be downright dangerous as currently implemented, and I see no reason to take a risk of exposing myself to malware just to see flashy annoying ads for crap I don't want anyway. Seriously, stop shoving dog food ads at me, YouTube, I don't even have a dog.

    On the other, if networks start blocking some content at the network level, there will be increased pressure on them from other parties to block other content at the network level. We'll get a lot of government pressure, especially, to block "ideologically impure" sites that they don't like and when the networks say they can't/won't, they'll retort "Why not? You block ads". It'll also play into the anti net-neutrality crowd. "Why won't you throttle sites? You block ads".

  31. PapaD


    Personally, I think the whole content system needs to move to micro-transactions.

    If the point of your site is to have visitors read your content, and you are able to charge 0.1p, or 0.01p per article read, (the numbers no doubt will need to be finely tuned), then you can do away with adverts on a lot of sites.

    The amount needs to be so low that the end user barely notices the cost, but high enough that the amount of users generates enough profit to make writing the article worthwhile.

    I read maybe 10-30 articles a day on thereg, so at 0.1p that's 1-3p per day, 30-90p per month - just from me. Even at 0.01p, that 3-9p per month, just from one user.

    It would support small sites quite well, and might result in a proliferation of such - and you rise and fall by the quality of your content (and, unfortunately, the quantity) - and I have no idea how this would affect the click bait - either people would be happy to keep paying for pointless articles, or they would get more discerning - not sure which way it would fall.

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