New MVNO Samba offers free broadband in exchange for ad views

Samba Mobile arrives as the UK’s newest MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and is aiming to set itself apart from its rivals by offering free broadband access relating to the advert views of its subscribers. (ed : reminds us of Ovivo Mobile as well)

“Why pay for mobile broadband?” asks the company. “Buy a Samba SIM now for £2.99 + p&p and never pay for broadband on the go again.”

Samba operates via Three’s network and offers almost 7MB of data for every minute of advertising watched. The London-based company says two and a half minutes of ads a day amounts to 517MB of monthly consumption – around the average data used by mobile customers.

Subscribers are taken through to a window where you “Choose an ad to top up your account”. A battery metre icon shows the user how much data they have remaining and this can be topped up any time by sitting through the advert of your choice.

Tablet owners need only the Samba Micro-SIM to get going, though the service is only available on iPads at this stage. Laptop and desktop users must purchase a Samba USB-Dongle and the SIM for £25 – taking a little shine off the “free” in “free broadband”.

Samba surfing is compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome but members are forbidden from accessing pornography sites as well as material that breaches copyright or is deemed offensive. The company also says it may install cookies to collect information about your “general internet usage”.

The new mobile service is not quite as revolutionary as some may think, and has already been compared to past launches of other phone networks supported by advertising.

Citing one of the most obvious examples, Informa Telecoms and Media analyst Guillermo Escofet told the BBC, "This is very reminiscent of Blyk - an ad supported network offering free mobile calls and SMS messages targeted at students about five years ago. It had big ambitions to spread to other countries but never took off in the way organisers had hoped”.

"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."