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The virtual knives are out among the UK ISPs

It's a jungle out there

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ISPs in the UK inhabit a cutthroat market. David Cronin, director of operations at Virgin Net appeared to really enjoy BT's apparent misfortune when the Daily Telegraph reported that ClickFree had a bug. "They [BT] have simply gone for a lightweight service," he said. Meow, pussycats. Still, Cronin probably took lessons from his boss, Richard Branson, who really sharpened his claws on AOL when Virgin Net announced last week it was to launch a subscription-free service. "I read this morning that Frank Keeling, marketing director of AOL, believes that people will always be willing to pay to look at interesting and relevant content. We are offering it free to the customer, along with free access. Other free Internet services do not offer anything like this quality of content," said Branson. Ouch. So it's nice to know that while it's everyone for themselves in the real world, the rest of the industry can bury their differences (or should that be a hatchets?) for at least a few hours when they get together for trade conferences. ISPCON, which opened in Hammersmith, London on Tuesday, is billed as the only convention dedicated to the ISP. After spending a few hours trawling round some of the stands and exhibitors, it's just as well. ®

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