Telegram: premium features and (some) advertisement from 2021 onward

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 24, 2020

Telegram is a popular messenger that is available for free for many platforms. The entire platform is ad-free and there is no Pro version available that users can upgrade to.

Starting in 2021, Telegram will introduce premium features and advertisement on its platform. The introduction of revenue generating features is often of concern to existing users of a platform. Telegram promises that the changes will be introduced in a user-friendly manner.

In short: all current features will remain free, and all-parts of the program devoted to messaging will remain ad-free.

Telegram founder Pawel Durow explained in a post on the platform why the changes are required and why these options have been selected. Telegram has grown significantly in the eight years of its existence. Expenses have been paid by Durow for the most part but traffic and server demand has increased so that a stable revenue source needed to be found for the platform. Since selling the platform or selling out users was out of the question, something needed to be done on the platform itself to generate revenue.

The idea was born to introduce premium features for business users and power users. These will be introduced as optional components and will be paid for by the businesses or users that would like to use them. Durow does not provide information on these features in the post but business focused features such as better scheduling or reporting could be potential options.

Revenue will also be generated through advertisement on the platform, and Telegram plans to introduce its own ad platform for public one-to-many channels. Durow promises that the platform will be user friendly and respect privacy.

Large public one-to-many channels will get something in return according to the post. Durow mentions free traffic to these channels, but also other revenue opportunities such as making available premium stickers on the platform and sharing revenue with the artists who created them.

Closing Words

It remains to be seen how these changes are introduced in 2021 and beyond. They do look good on first glance on paper, especially that individual chats remain free of advertisement and that all existing features remain free as well.

Now You: Do you use Telegram?

Telegram: premium features and (some) advertisement from 2021 onward
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Telegram: premium features and (some) advertisement from 2021 onward
Telegram is a popular messenger that is available for free for many platforms. The entire platform is ad-free and there is no Pro version available that users can upgrade to.
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  1. John said on December 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    I have some questions for the commenters here who perhaps have a little bit of technological knowledge than I do:

    Why are centralized servers and infrastructure necessary for an app like this? Couldn’t peer to peer or direct IP connections (The latter is obviously a potential security risk, but if you have absolute trust in who is on the other side, it seems like it would allow for messaging, and really I’m just naming solutions I can think of- there are probably similar but more secure possibilities out there. Even the obvious security issues with direct IP connections might be able to be partially mitigated if an effective software “firewall” [perhaps not meeting the software definition of firewall, but meeting the non-technical usage of the word- work with me here. ;) ] that isolates the program from the rest of the operating system might partially mitigate some of those) achieve most of what some of what is done on these apps that use centralized servers to facilitate service?

    The only thing I can think of in terms of actual day to day service that seems obvious to me as a non-technical user that would require a server would be verification of screen names- so that you couldn’t have 100,000 thousands users with the screen name “Bob” running around, making figuring out who you’re talking to next to impossible for casual non-technically inclined users. However, servers that *only* do that seem like they would be far less of a financial strain than servers that have more complete functionality.

    Software development could then be handled, potentially, by a non-profit that would accept donations, but not advertisements, and would seek those donations from private users, but also could in theory get monetary or “in kind” donations from corporations and individuals. For example, let’s say IBM wants a messaging solution that isn’t tied to Microsoft, Google, or Apple- they might be willing to contribute a small amount to this hypothetical foundation on a regular basis to aide in software development, or assign some of their employs to submit patches and pull requests, do CI testing, etc.. Some Linux distros operate on a similar model- they are doing it on a smaller scale, but perhaps the great scale of the user base of these messaging service would also mean more companies are interested in helping out, scaling up the scale of third-party corporate involvement, too, and a larger user base doesn’t necessarily mean even more a similar increase in pure product development costs if you are already developing the product to work on devices, operating systems, and software your expanding user base would be using anyway, to meet the needs of your existing user base. If you have to make sure you software works on a Samsung Galaxy S10 for your existing users anyway, having more users using Samsung Galaxy S10s doesn’t seem like it would increase development costs (Or would at least only do so at a lower than proportional rate relative to the number of users added), and might even help software development because you’d have more regular people doing beta testing, submitting bugs, and so on and so forth.

    Similarly, having an official website people can go to is a cost that does increase with the number of users, but if that site isn’t hosting the program/app downloads themselves, it would be dramatically lower cost wise than the alternative. What one would do from the main site is link to mirrors at educational facilities, non-profits, and anything deemed trustworthy, who would actually host the download. A hash on the main site would be provided for techies who can actually make use of it to verify the integrity of the software if they have concerns and are capable of doing a hash check (Some users won’t be able to or inclined to do the check, of course, but they would still be allowed to download and use the software.). Also, Google Play, the iOS App Store, and perhaps F-Droid and similar are probably already taking care of hosting the downloads for the majority of the people using this service anyway, right?

    Am I way off-base here?

    More than any privacy concerns, my concerns with this setup, were I a Telegram user, would be the ads. I try to avoid running software with built-in ads as much as possible without sacrificing the ability to run the types of software that do the things I want to do. I feel like I’m exposed to way too much advertising day to day. If I wanted more security or functionality than text messaging, I would likely look first for an add-free no-cost app to handle it before considering the apps that don’t meet those criteria.

    1. Anonymous said on December 25, 2020 at 11:19 pm

      Those options exist, but they’re not “popular”:

    2. Answer said on December 25, 2020 at 3:33 am


  2. Anonymous said on December 24, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    We need to support federated protocols like Jabber/XMPP, and not proprietory/locked stuff like Whatsapp, Telegram, etc., etc., etc.

  3. Anonymous said on December 24, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Long as its not from the five praying eyes. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft. These tech monopolies need to be broken up.

  4. Pierre said on December 24, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    None of my contacts uses it. Two of them have it but don’t use it
    There is no chat or video possibility

  5. Rnk said on December 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Well, it couldn’t burn cash forever. Didn’t expect channel ads to be honest, but makes sense for them to take over a market that was already there unofficially. From “no ads” to “no intrusive ads [in channels]”, hopefully that stops there.

  6. some1 said on December 24, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Everyone I know uses WhatsApp. I only stuck with Telegram because I like their portable Windows app and the fact they were not owned by Facebook.

    If I can block the ads with NetGuard, no problem. Otherwise, goodbye Telegram! :(

  7. ShintoPlasm said on December 24, 2020 at 9:16 am

    I have been using Telegram extensively from their first version, and I suppose it was inevitable that they’d need to look for some revenue generation. I truly hope that ads will remain limited to the described scenarios, and that there won’t be any nasty privacy-busting surprises. Otherwise I’ll continue using it as long as it serves my needs and doesn’t annoy me.

    1. John said on December 24, 2020 at 11:15 am

      It won’t affect you, believe me. Durov won’t make a bad move.

      1. anoanno said on December 25, 2020 at 3:42 pm

        > Durov won’t make a bad move

        Say this to TON investors

  8. Anonymous said on December 24, 2020 at 8:48 am

    I have a telegram channel with >5k members, and I fear this commercialization will enable the german government to apply the Network Enforcement Act to Telegram, thereby censoring channels.

  9. Wire said on December 24, 2020 at 8:47 am

    And this is where me and Telegram part ways. Hey, we had a good run. It’s not me, it’s you. Bye.

    1. Anonymous said on June 30, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      Oh do grow up

  10. Ray said on December 24, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I use Telegram rarely, so this doesn’t really affect me.

    Just wanted to also say that latest version of Skype also has ads. However, Skype allows you to hide ads for 24 hours.

    1. Anonymous said on December 27, 2020 at 6:55 am

      Skype = Microsoft = Bing ads. Telegram isn’t an ad company like Microsoft.

    2. John said on December 24, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Telegram won’t have ads like other apps. :)

    3. tratata said on December 24, 2020 at 9:40 am

      Thank you for let as know the most important fact.

  11. Benjamin said on December 24, 2020 at 7:51 am

    In an ideal society such technologies should be in public ownership (like Google as search engine) and control, paid for by some public finances over which the very public shall debate and vote for. The same goes for market places in which said public and societies trades and exchanges goods and services…

    1. Iron Heart said on December 24, 2020 at 10:22 am


      Won’t work.

      Besides, decentralized solutions would likely be preferable.

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