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Big two team up for free calls deal

A day after Google said mobile calls should be free and supported by advertising, Vodafone has announced it is to offer cheaper calls if they accept adverts from Yahoo.

Vodafone has signed an agreement with the internet search firm, making it its exclusive display advertising partner in the UK.

The offer will be rolled out by Vodafone in the first half of 2007, the companies said in a statement.

Vodafone said: “Customers who agree to accept carefully targeted display advertisements can expect to enjoy savings on certain Vodafone services.” The firms said the move would add to their revenue streams.

Using targeted adds to pay for calls has been used by Virgin in the US in a service dubbed “SugarMama”. To benefit from the free calls offered, customers must opt-in to SugarMama via Virgin’s website. After filling out a short profile customers are asked to view a short streaming video advertisement or text ad and answer questions to prove they watched the film. Correct answers earn customers free airtime minutes.

Blyk is another and will launch around the same time as Vodafone and Yahoo’s offering. Blyk is a startup from the former vice president of Nokia, Pekka Ala-Pietila. Blyk says it is a “pan-European free mobile operator for young people, funded by advertising”.

More to follow

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