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Samba’s Free Ad Supported UK Mobile Broadband Service Closes Down

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 (8:10 am) - Score 733

Samba, a virtual mobile network operator that used the Three UK platform and which claimed to offer the country’s first free Mobile Broadband service, has suddenly closed down after first launching two years ago (here). Perhaps unsurprisingly the operators “unsustainable data costs” have taken the blame.

The operator, which also offered some pre-paid SIM-only Mobile Broadband services, hit the headlines after they introduced customers to a semi-free mobile Internet service that required users to watch a few video adverts each day in order to top-up their credit (2-3 mins of video ads daily equalled about 500MB a month or 3-4MB per advert).

The model, which was once also attempted by a fixed line unmetered dialup ISP, has never really worked and usually ends up being either abused or failing due to unsustainable economics. So it’s perhaps with little surprise that Samba Mobile has now fallen foul of the same problem.

Samba claims that it had been in negotiations with their wholesale data partners “trying to cut the right deal to continue” but failed to reach an agreement and thus had to stop offering their service with immediate effect.

Samba Mobile Statement

Samba is closing principally due to the high cost of wholesale data. This makes the current model of offering a meaningful value exchange of mobile broadband unsustainable. The data service will shut down with immediate effect; there is no guarantee we will be able to switch data back on unless negotiations with partners result in lower costs for Samba. Thank you all for your loyalty, feedback and recommendations to friends and family since we launched in 2012.

Customers will be understandably angry at the lack of prior notice, although Samba has promised that anybody who bought a cash top-up that has not expired will be refunded for any unused data and those who bought a SIM or Dongle in April 2014 will also receive a refund by Thursday 1st May 2014.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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