Digicel St. Kitts and Nevis has announced plans to offer its customers the option of deploying ad-blocking software on their smartphones. According to the operator, mobile advertising uses up as much as 10 percent of a customer’s data plan allowance. The offer comes after the Digicel group recently announced that it would be adding the ad-blocking technology created by Israel’s Shine Technologies to mobile networks in its Caribbean and Asia-Pacific markets.
As the mobile advertising sector grows exponentially, a countervailing force has appeared in the form of ad-blocking technologies such as that developed by Shine. Ad-blocking is increasingly finding favor with mobile customers, not surprisingly, but the technology is a double-edged sword for the mobile market. From the operator point of view, it can be a positive, in that it can boost consumer satisfaction levels, aiding retention, by helping users get the most from their data allowances. And while mobile ad revenue worldwide was over US $35 billion in 2015, not much of this goes to MNOs, which therefore lack the incentive to promote it. From the regulator point of view, ad-blocking is problematic in that it may threaten net-neutrality principles, and this argument has been raised by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (Ectel) in connection with Digicel’s offer. In addition, Ectel warned the operator that the ad-blocking technology could “hinder the growth, usage and deployment of broadband” in the region.