Following on from news that Britain’s largest carrier EE is looking into blocking adverts on mobile, the second largest carrier O2 has revealed it is in “advanced stages” of looking into advert blocking for mobile.
Speaking to Business Insider, O2 managing director of digital commerce Robert Franks said: “We are absolutely looking at [network-level ad blocking] technology … We are looking at these technologies to see if they can help our customers with some of the bad practices and disruptive experiences that are happening.”
The carrier is looking to partner with various advertising agencies to improve mobile adverts, making them faster, more secure, and take up less data. O2 will make sure that those adverts are still seen on the mobile Web, while removing adverts that make the user’s experience worse on mobile.
O2 doesn’t have a product to showcase right now, but seems further ahead than EE and other U.K. carriers. Vodafone, the third largest carrier in the country, said in the report that it didn’t have any plans to create advert blocking services, but might look into it in the future.
Creating a network-level adblocker might make it possible to remove adverts from apps, alongside the Web. That would be a huge deal for companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, which make most mobile revenue from apps. Apple doesn’t seem to welcome that type of ad-blocking however, recently banning a handful of apps that tried to block advert traffic inside apps.
That might cause problems with Apple and Google, but O2 didn’t mention ad-blocking inside of apps. It also said it wouldn’t use a monetary system to allow some ads through the filter, as that would break net neutrality laws in Europe and the United kingdom.
O2 is currently in the middle of a $15 billion merger with Hutchison Whampoa’s Three UK. The mega-carrier will serve over 35 million customers in the U.K., but the future of O2 after the merger is uncertain. That might bring an early end to the company’s plans for an ad-blocking service.
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