Update: Telecom operator Idea Cellular has also inked a similar partnership with Opera Software to launch Idea Web Pass for its subscribers.
As part of this partnership, Idea Cellular will be offering three web pass packages to its subscribers – a Daily Internet pass for Rs 8, a weekly Internet pass for Rs 30 and a weekly Facebook pass for Rs 7. These passes can be purchased from within the Opera Mini browser. With this tie-up, Opera now has tie-ups with three top telcos in India for Web Pass – Airtel in Feb 2013, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. Of this however, only Idea Cellular is currently live with Airtel and Vodafone yet to go live with their web pass offerings.
Vodafone says this partnership will allow them to replace the complex KB/MB-based data plans with time-based or content-based web-pass packages for its subscribers. For instance, users can now pay to browse social networking sites for a day or an hour, rather than keeping track of the MBs consumed.
Vodafone believes this move will encourage more subscribers to start using data services and also help increase the data usage among the existing users. Note that browsers like Opera Mini have a direct impact on the telco’s data revenues, since they reduce the total data consumption due to its compression. However, this approach will enable them to charge consumers on the basis of time rather than data usage, thereby reducing the impact on its data revenues.
We also believe this is a much more consumer friendly approach, since an hourly or daily pass will simplify the consumer on-boarding process by a significant amount. There is currently no information on the pricing of these passes and type of content-based packages Vodafone plans to offer (if any) since it is yet to go live, but do note that these passes, once activated, are available only through Opera Mini browser.
Purchasing packs: Opera spokesperson told Medianama that once the feature goes live, Vodafone subscribers can tap on ‘Vodafone Web Pass’ link that will be present on Opera Mini’s start page and choose from a list of subscriptions available on the page to purchase it. You can view the video demo here.
Sponsored Web Pass: Earlier in the week, Opera also launched sponsored web pass which allows telcos to partner with advertisers who will sponsor the cost of customers’ mobile internet access. Subscribers will have to watch a short advertisement at the start, following which they will receive free usage for the entire session.
After the pass expires, users will be provided an option to purchase a paid Web Pass or watch video ads from different sponsors to continue browsing. Note that this is not included in the current Vodafone-Opera partnership.
Opera Max: Besides this, Opera has also launched a free data-savings Android app called Opera Max, which claims to compress data across applications on the user’s mobile device, especially video and image-heavy apps such as Vine, Instagram, Vevo or Flipboard.
The app will be initially rolled out in the United States and Europe who had pre-registered for Opera Max on a first-come, first-served basis. It will be launched in other regions gradually.
Considering the nature of the app, Opera Max could raise some privacy concerns among users since it is essentially rerouting all non-encrypted data requests through its compression servers, although Opera claims it takes user privacy seriously and only measures how much data one uses and how much data they’ve saved.