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Net users in the UK are expected to run amok next week when they are given the chance to access the Net for free. London-based ISP, The X-Stream Network, is offering its 200,000 registered users the chance to access the Net using a toll-free 0800 number, instead of incurring the usual local-rate charge. Available on Monday, 8 March between 6pm and midnight, the promotion marks X-Stream's first year as a subscription-free service provider - a model that has since been widely adopted by companies such as Dixons and Tesco. And in a provocative move the company said it is "throwing down the gauntlet to Dixons FreeServe, Tesco and others" to raise the stakes in the provision of free Internet access. "As the first [ISP] to offer free access we stunned the market," said Paul Myers, MD of X-Stream. "Our innovation, courage and success forced the likes of Dixons, BT and Tesco to re-organise their Internet strategies and offer free Internet access. "Now we're doing it yet again and once again we are driving the market to another level entirely," he said. Unlike other subscription-free services which generate revenue from splitting the call charge with telecomms companies, Myers insists that most of The X-Stream Network's income is earned through advertising. ®

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