Norwegian browser maker Opera wants to bring a commercial TV approach to the mobile web, launching a platform for carriers to deliver 'free mobile internet' for users that agree to accept ads.
Opera today announced Sponsored Web Pass, an ad-supported version of Web Pass, a product it launched last year aimed at mobile users without a data plan. Web Pass lets carriers sell time-based or content-based access (eg for a particular app) to mobile subscribers that use Opera Mini, its data-saving browser, on their mobiles.
Operators that offer Web Pass include Digi, the third largest mobile operator in Malaysia, a subsidiary of Norwegian telecoms group Telenor.
Amsterdam headquartered VimpelCom, which is 43 percent owned by Telenor, launched the packages last February. Airtel also rolled-out Web Pass for several African markets.
Opera's ad-supported Web Pass lets operators offer subscribers a capped amount of mobile data in exchange for them viewing an ad from a sponsor.
When a Sponsored Web Pass session runs out, users are pushed to a landing page that offers the option buy a standard Web Pass or to start another session sponsored by a different advertiser.
Opera hopes the sponsored packages will help carriers nudge new users on to the mobile internet.
Opera has over 260 million mobile users, according to the company. Along with its browser products, Opera also has a number of other software products, including a data-compression tool for Android apps called Opera Max and a social browsing tool bar called Horizon.
The company has seen marked growth recently, last year increasing its headcount and office space to accomodate a number of acquisitions.