EE may decide to block ads on its network

The first ad-free mobile network?

EE could not just be about to put a cat amongst the pigeons, but lob a grenade at them instead, as chief executive Olaf Swantee has mentioned automatic blocking of adverts on the network.

The company has launched a "strategic review" on whether such a move - which has so far only been done by one operator in the Caribbean - would be a good idea or not.

Swantee said, "For EE, this is not about ad blocking, but about starting an important debate around customer choice, controls and the level of ads customers receive. This is an important debate that needs to happen soon. That's why we've kicked off a strategic review internally to start considering our plans."

EE's servers could automatically block adverts before they are downloaded to the user's phone. This could presumably be done by both blocking domains of known advertisers from the network, as well as having EE's systems automatically filter web pages to remove advertising code.

Better for consumers?

A similar system to the latter is already used to downgrade image quality to use less bandwidth on mobile connections.

For EE customers, it is thought that it wouldn't be a blanket ban, but would enable the network to offer customers more control. For example, by letting users how much advertising they see or only showing adverts that are judged to be not intrusive and irritating.

The motivation for the network is a rather clever one: if network-level ad-blocking becomes commonplace it could put more power back in the hands of the network as they could conceivably start charging companies to let their advertising through - essentially scraping a commission fee off the top for delivering the ads.

Though ad-blocking has been available on an individual basis for years, this is the first time network-level proposals have been publicly floated - and arguably, this also factors into the on-going net neutrality debate.

While it might sound like a welcome move for consumers, talk of implementing such a technology will have online publishers (like, umm, techradar) and other companies that have business models that relies on advertising will no doubt be worried about EE choking off future income streams.

Via The Sunday Telegraph