UK mobile network Ovivo Mobile has shut down without warning, citing “reasons beyond our control” and leaving some 50,000 users unable to use their phones.
The network gave its customers free access to the Vodafone network in return for viewing adverts on their phone’s web browser every 10 minutes. The only cost was £20 to buy a SIM card, after which calls, texts and mobile internet use was free.
A message addressed to the network’s customers appeared on its website, reading: “We are very sad to announce that for reasons beyond our control, OVIVO Mobile is closing down on the evening of Wednesday 19th March 2014.
“We'd like to thank each and every one of you for your support and friendship over the last two years.”
Angry users took to message boards to complain about the sudden closure, with some claiming the network was selling its £20 SIM cards right up until the closure was announced.
Ovivo launched two years ago, having raised £414,000 from the crowd-funding website CrowdCube. In the wake of the closure, reports claimed the network had less than £10,000 to its name, suggesting the ad-funded business model had failed.
Users reported that their phones had stopped working within minutes of the announcement, while others claimed they had paid their £20 and not yet even received the SIM card. Those who paid via PayPal were hopeful of having the payment refunded.
Customers wishing to keep their Ovivo number can do so by filling out a PAC request form on the company’s website.