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

24-hour trial takes a load off (for the operator)

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 are immensely motivated to take as much data off their network as they can," he said.

The telco announced the trial earlier this year, having inked a deal with Israeli startup Shine, which produces the network-level blocking tech Three will be using.

Three claims the move will "revolutionise" mobile advertising. The firm's owner, CK Hutchison, is also an investor in Shine.

Tom Malleschitz, chief marketing officer of Three UK, said: “The current ad model is broken. It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance and can jeopardise their privacy. Something needs to change. We can only achieve change by working with all stakeholders in the advertising industry – customers, advertising networks and publishers – to create a new form of advertising that is better for all parties.”

Earlier this month, the EU vetoed the proposed £10.25bn merger between mobile operators Three and O2. Hutchison said it is considering mounting a legal challenge against the decision.

EE has previously made noises about blocking ads for customers. In November 2015 it told The Register: “We're at the beginning of a discussion internally and while we've no specific plans, if we choose to develop options they will have the principle of customer choice at their core.”

Juniper Research predicts that digital publishers stand to lose more than $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking.

"Network level ad-blocking presents an entirely new challenge to publishers," said Barker. "A rollout to all of Three’s customers are going to increase the number of ads blocked on mobile devices essentially overnight. As a result, we will see publishers coming up with new business strategies to combat the threat on their revenues."

Three's trial will “test the ability of the technology to filter out advertising that damages our customers’ mobile browsing experience without impacting their network experience,” according to its press release.

Three will be contacting customers to ask them to agree to take part in the 24-hour trial, which is scheduled to take place during the week commencing 13 June. ®

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