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Ad-funded mobile co gets advertisers...

And punters too

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The UK's only ad-funded mobile phone network has managed to sign up 100,000 punters. It's done so six months earlier than expected, and even has some decent brands signed up to advertise.

Blyk is supposed to be invitation-only, with reps from the company touring universities and schools in the hope of snagging the 16 to 24-year-olds the company wants as customers - though right now the firm's handing out "exclusive" invitations to anyone prepared to send it a text message asking for one. Once they hit the enormous age of 25, existing customers are allowed to stay on, the company says.

The service is free, with punters getting 217 text messages and 43 minutes of calling in exchange for receiving pushed adverts over SMS and MMS.

Pushing adverts to adolescents has proved popular, and last week the operator announced another 73 advertisers, taking the total to 117, which includes STA Travel and the government's Central Office of Information.

Pitches of this kind aren't new. During the dot.com boom several companies thought they could make a living providing free computers subsidised by advertising, but such projects have been beset by the fact that those most interested in a free lunch have traditionally been those least attractive to advertisers.

Blyk reckons that by focusing on the youth demographic it can avoid this problem - youths all want free phone calls, and so far they would appear to be right. ®

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