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21 May 20120 Comments by Jon M

Samba Mobile interview (part 2)

Welcome back to the second part of our exclusive interview with Samba Mobile founder and CEO Ben Atherton. Last time we went over several details about the rather unique business model and now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty – how to get started, what exactly you have to do to get free mobile broadband and his vision of the future the telecommunications sector.

One of our readers, Joe, has already found out some details about the adverts and how they translate into credit/mobile data. He says that after watching six adverts, the average length was about one and a half minutes. The shortest was 38 seconds and the longest just over two minutes. On average you will earn 3.5 MB of data usage per advert watched which works out at about 2.3 MB of data for watching each minute of advertisement. So it sounds rather reasonable if you just want to use it for light browsing.

And now, with no further ado, the rest of the interview:

When do you launch and how can users get started with Samba?

We have already launched for iPad. Just go to to our site and order your micro sim card (£4.99 + £2.50 p&P). NB we make no money on the SIM as we don’t subsidise like the big networks.

Takes 5 minutes and then we despatch next day. No more cost, everything from then on is free.

You can earn credit immediately on the website.

If you are a laptop/tablet user – you can pre-register for a dongle at

What sort of ratio of advert-viewing-to-free-service can we expect?

From the trial users watched an average of 103 ads per month, or 3 a day (90 seconds a day). We have some longer content now so that could be 2 mins per day.

Lots of people have asked whether there are any upfront costs at all – is this the case?

Yes of course, see above. We have to cover our sim and dongle costs, and p&p. We aren’t like the networks, who subsidise this because they know they can expect a further £300-400+ from you over the lifetime of your contract.

What do you think the impact of 4G and the exponential rise of smartphones is going to be on data pricing and where do you see the network in five years?

It’s a very good question. Cisco thinks that “Mobile-connected tablets will generate almost as much traffic in 2016 as the entire global mobile network in 2012”.

They also see video driving huge amounts of this traffic. So we see Samba as a service whose ‘time has come’ .

Re pricing, the operators, in our view, will exponentially build capacity, and users (on all devices) will grow both traffic as well as more users coming onto the network. So overall data traffic will explode.

But overall ARPU, will not grow directly in relation to traffic – the history of mobile voice, text and fixed broadband show that – and people’s disposable income wont grow in direct relation to traffic either – so by definition the cost of data per unit (MB, G, EXA) will have to drop.

But it wont be radical and it wont be overnight – so data will be a valuable commodity for some time to come.

We hoped you enjoyed that and found it useful. Do you have any other questions you’d like to ask about Samba? Let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them or even put them to the CEO in another interview.

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