UK wireless carrier Three has announced that it will begin block ads for all its subscribers at the network level. The company has partnered with the startup Shine, with the intent to remove “excessive and irrelevant mobile ads” for users, and in turn reduce the strain on their bandwidth. Three says this move isn’t an attempt to eliminate mobile advertising altogether, but instead is to give customers “more control and choice” over what appears on their devices.
This won’t be happening right away, as Three says all the details on this initiative will be announced in “the coming months.” It’s also all be billed as in the customer’s interest, as along with reducing data usage, it wants to protect users’ privacy and prevent malware, as well as make sure they only see relevant ads and not something that’s intrusive.
The other interesting aspect about the bandwidth usage is that Three feels advertisers should be the ones paying for data related to mobile ads, not customers. There’s no word yet on how the carrier would force advertisers to pay, but there’s a possibility it could lead to mobile networks simply looking for more money in exchange for white-listing certain websites or advertising systems.
Several other European carriers have voiced the possibility of blocking ads on the network level, including O2 and EE. The worry is that Three may set a precedent where only business that pay up can continue operating. This goes against the rules of net neutrality, and while it’s advertisers that may become the targets, business that survive on ad revenue could easily become the victims.