Sep 17

Free mobile broadband … sort of …

samba mobile - earn 3G roaming by watching adds

Almost free 3G roaming

Yeah, no such thing as a free lunch, but this is certainly worth considering.

It’s a new model for paying for mobile broadband based on watching adverts, called Samba Mobile. Yup, sit down for a few adverts from the likes of Dell, Pot Noodle or British Airways and get some free broadband in return. You actually get to choose the ads you watch, and apparently it learns your preferences and starts to tailor them accordingly.

So what’s the deal?

It works on the 3 network. For tablets, £5 gets you a SIM (standard or Micro), and for £25 you get a dongle and SIM for a laptop. After that, you earn time for watching ads.

So what do you get? Well, for each advert you watch you get 3.5MB of free data, which is enough for 10 webpages, or for sending 30 emails (not including documents).

From what I can tell, you can also log into your Samba account and watch on your main machine. This apparently is necessary as some of the adverts can’t be watched over the Samba 3G network.

You can also pay to top up your broadband, £5.00 for 500MB (or £3.50 for 250MB). But while the credit you earn from watching the ads last indefinitely, paid-for top ups last for only 30 days.

So what’s the way to use it?

Well, you don’t actually have to sit and watch the adverts … they aren’t that clever (yet!) I’d say grab one for the office, click on the adds regularly (off to get lunch, that next cup of tea) and build up enough credit so that the next time someone is off and needs mobile broadband, you should have it for free after the initial outlay.


It won’t work with Internet Explorer, so you’ll need administrative rights on your computer to download a new browser, it you don’t have one already.

If you are using Outlook, set it to download headers only, so you can choose what emails to read.

Will it be around forever? It’s not the first time this business model has been around, and found not to work. Hard to say what the future is for this one. But it is still more than likely that it will be around long enough to pay for itself.

Only works in the UK.

Public Wi-Fi is increasingly available, train stations, coffee shops, pubs – but 3G is inherently more secure.

You still have to have adverts running on your machine.

So …

If you have staff that need to travel, and can’t afford the often expensive, and time-limited 3G on offer from the main providers, it’s certainly worth considering one or two for your organisation.

I’d advise most organisations to have a couple of Wi-Fi dongles anyway. They are a great back-up to have should your broadband provider suddenly go down just as you need to send that vital email. With most dongles though, you’d need to send someone round to buy a top-up from your nearest provider (an essential consideration before purchasing) as there is a time limit on these things. But with Samba, all it takes is a few minutes of adverts, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Available from Amazon

3G Dongle & SIM – free airtime no contract