- Richard Branson is to launch a free internet link which could save customers between £120 and £200 a year, according to a report in The Mail on Sunday this weekend.
On Tuesday, Branson's Virgin-owned Internet service, Virgin Net, will announce the launch of a free access scheme for an experimental 12 month period, and is expected to make it a permanent service after that.
Users will only have to pay normal phone charges after they are logged on, instead of a flat fee plus extra charges for extra time. Service providers do not need to charge for access because they can make money from advertising or by charging for premium services.
Earlier this year Canadian company X-Stream made its UK debut with a service that involves downloading special software from the Internet to gain free access. It has attracted 27,000 subscribers since it launched in March.
Other service providers such as BT, EasyNet, ITG and Demon will come under pressure to follow suit.