, MTN and Sponsored Web Pass, MTN and Sponsored Web Pass: One million days of free internet

MTN Nigeria is the largest mobile phone operator in Africa, with over 60 million active users. Opera Software and MTN have been working together since 2012 to bring the full web experience to MTN customers through a co-branded version of Opera Mini.

In June 2015 MTN began offering its users one million days of free internet via an easy-to-use 24 hour Web Pass that was sponsored by (Nigeria’s premier news, lifestyle and entertainment portal) and powered by Opera Software’s Sponsored Web Pass.

Bringing no-cost internet access to consumers in Nigeria

The Opera Web Pass solution simplifies mobile internet packages by using the existing capabilities of the Opera Mini platform, such as data compression and the zero-rating of mobile traffic. In June 2015, MTN teamed up with Opera to offer “one million days of free internet”, in conjunction with – Nigeria’s leading online news portal — to sponsor one million 24-hour internet passes to MTN’s customers. 

By sponsoring the cost of consumers’ internet use for one day, was able to get its brand in front of MTN’s customers in an extremely positive light — providing consumers with free access to the internet, while at the same time promoting their website and driving traffic to it. To start using the free one day pass, consumers had only to click on the an onboarding page within MTN’s co-branded Opera Mini browser, or a promotional link, optionally provide their mobile number and then start browsing.

MTN was able to target irregular data users with the offer via SMS and USSD and give them a free taste of the internet with the view to retain these new mobile internet users and have the opportunity to turn them into paying mobile data subscribers., in turn, benefitted from increased brand awareness and a large boost in targeted traffic to its website.

Creating a buzz

To boost awareness and interest around the Sponsored Web Pass, MTN and Opera carried out the following promotional tactics:

  • Promotion via Opera Mini’s built-in promotional real estate —banners and onboarding pages — provided users with a direct link to a campaign page, from which users could access the “free day of internet” sponsored by Opera’s Speed Dial provided further traffic to via a direct link.
  • The onboarding page provided information to the consumer about the “free day of internet” offer sponsored by
  • When users selected the web pass, they could start surfing the internet from their mobile phones at no charge. Throughout the 24 hour period, users were presented with different interstitial ads from that promoted various aspects of its website.
  • A well-attended press conference was held and ongoing social media and radio hypes were carried out around the country.
  • MTN sent 120 million SMSes to its subscribers promoting the initiative.

Campaign results

When the pass expired, consumers were able to continue browsing from their mobile phones at standard rates or could purchase an MTN bundle. This gave MTN the possibility to turn previous non- data users into actual paying data users.

By sponsoring “a day of free internet”, was able to promote its brand in a bold way, while driving large amounts of traffic to its portal, in addition to associating itself with something extremely positive in the eyes of the consumer: free access to the internet. The campaign provided exceptionally positive PR opportunities as well as widespread national and pan-African press coverage. Naij also benefitted by capturing 500,000 mobile numbers of users who went to their site, enabling the creation of a database.

The campaign resulted in’s website becoming so popular that it moved up to fourth place in the most popular domains on Opera Mini in Nigeria. 


Opera’s Sponsored Web Pass makes it possible for operators to partner with local advertisers and content providers in a mutually beneficial partnership. Advertisers benefit from an increase in brand awareness, gaining access to relevant information about their end users, while driving traffic to their website. Operators are able to provide free internet to their customers as an incentive to attract new mobile-data users, while increasing their data plan revenues by participating in data monetization. 

Interested in learning more about Opera's Sponsored Web Pass solution? Check out our product page and product sheet.

Download the pdf version of the case study here.