Opera: watch an ad, get free mobile Net access

The Norwegian browser company adds a new sponsored option to its Web Pass service for letting carriers offer people short-term Internet access.

Sponsored Web Pass, an Opera Software technology that carriers can offer, gives mobile phone users free Net access in exchange for watching an ad. It can also be set to offer access to a particular service like Facebook.
Sponsored Web Pass, an Opera Software technology that carriers can offer, gives mobile phone users free Net access in exchange for watching an ad. It can also be set to offer access to a particular service like Facebook. Opera Software

Opera Software announced a variation of its Web Pass service, adding a new ad-sponsored option to the technology that lets carriers grant people free access to the Net.

Opera Web Pass already was available as a way to let people use the Net with some restrictions -- a limited time, or a limited number of services, for example. The idea was that people who might not have the money to sign up for a full-on subscription would be willing to pay an operator for short-term access.

The Sponsored Web Pass option means they could get that access in exchange for watching an ad, Opera said Friday, just before the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona that focuses on mobile and operator issues.

The service is a new aspect of projects intended to get more people using the Net. For example, travelers at the Minneapolis St.-Paul International Airport can get free Wi-Fi access in exchange for watching an ad. And those paying for T-Mobile GoSmart Mobile service get free Facebook access, even if they don't have a data plan.

Here's how Opera describes its new option:

All the user has to do is to is watch a short advertisement from the sponsor before continuing to their content, similar to the way an ad from a sponsor airs before the start of a TV program. Users are then free to engage with the content in their Web Pass for its entire duration.

When the Sponsored Web Pass expires, users are given a soft landing with the option to continue browsing after purchasing a paid Web Pass, or to re-engage with different sponsors and continue browsing at no charge. Opera's Sponsored Web Pass now allows operators to increase their revenues from data services by enabling their participation in ad revenue monetization.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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