Two ISPs to offer free internet access

The UK’s burgeoning e-commerce industry was this week given a further boost with the news that two operators are to offer free internet access.

The UK’s burgeoning e-commerce industry was this week given a

further boost with the news that two operators are to offer free

internet access.



The US search engine AltaVista made the biggest splash since the launch

of Freeserve in September 1998. It plans to offer UK consumers access to

the web for pounds 10 a year and a one-off sign-up fee of pounds 36.



In response, the cable company NTL went one step further the following

day by offering unlimited internet access free of subscription, call

connection and internet call charges.



While Freeserve and its copy-cat competitors offered free internet

access, consumers still had to pay for their telephone charges, with the

service provider taking a cut of the telephone charge.



AltaVista aims to pay for its scheme through advertising and

e-commerce.



But rivals are predicting that it will incur huge losses when it

launches in three months.



NTL will be first to market with a launch scheduled for six weeks’

time.



However, the next few weeks are certain to see market announcements from

competitors.



AltaVista’s move follows the January appointment of Andy Mitchell, the

former head of the internet advertising company DoubleClick UK, as its

managing director.



Mitchell said: ’The UK is still lagging behind the US when it comes to

exploiting the internet. AltaVista is hoping to increase the number of

people online and the number of internet-related jobs, which in turn

will boost the British economy.’



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