Econet Wireless, a mobile carrier based in South Africa, has announced it plans to deploy network-level ad blocking for its 40 million subscribers across the African continent.
It marks the third deal Israel-based ad blocking company Shine has announced with a mobile carrier.
Digicel rolled out ad blocking at a network-level for its 13 million subscribers across the Caribbean last September, while Three is testing the technology in the UK and Italy, but it hasn’t launched the proposition for customers yet.
Econet said it first plans to roll out the ad blocking technology – which is installed in the carriers’ data centers and blocks ads in both mobile browsers and apps – in Zimbabwe.
An Econet spokeswoman could not confirm how the technology will be marketed to customers or whether subscribers will need to opt-in to the service or whether they will be automatically enrolled.
“We haven’t finalised on the implementation mechanics,” the spokeswoman said.
Similarly, Econet could not disclose how many of its customers are smartphone and mobile data users who would require such a service, except to say that “a significant number of our customers have smartphones.”
There were more feature phones that smartphones shipped in Africa in 2015, according to online data platform Statista. However, smartphone shipments are expected to overtake feature phone shipments in the region this year.
In a press release announcing the deal, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Douglas Mboweni said:
“We are delighted that we have taken the lead in ensuring that customers have control of unsolicited ads. This will lead to quicker loading and cleaner looking web pages free from advertisements, lower resource waste in terms of bandwidth and memory. This goes a long way in solving the issue of bill shock resulting from unsolicited adverts. In addition there are privacy benefits gained through the exclusion of the tracking and profiling systems of ad delivery platforms.”
Shine says in the release that analysis of Econet’s network found ads were “robbing its subscribers of up to 40% of their data plans.”
Last month, Shine, which has long been antagonizing the advertising industry with technology it claims to be a “military-grade” defense from ad tech, announced a surprising pivot into ad tech itself.
While continuing to offer its ad blocking solution for carriers, Shine announced plans to launch an “ad verification platform,” which aims to help advertisers ensure the ads they paid for land on the websites they intended them to appear on and in front of their desired audiences.