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Virgin Net has decided to shift its Net strategy and reposition itself instead as a portal jammed with content rather than as a conduit for people to hook onto the Net. The decision by one of the most familiar names in the business is an indication of just how competitive the provision of Net access has become in the UK. Sources at Virgin Net told The Register that the Online Service Provider (OSP) was not about to dump its ISP function -- or its 200,000 customers who get a leg up to the Web using Virgin Net. Nor will it stop recruiting new subscribers. Instead, the Web company believes there is more to be gained by becoming a destination site providing content and e-commerce opportunities—not least with the opening of Virgin Megastore Online in the US earlier this week. "Virgin Net is focusing on entertainment and leisure," said a spokeswoman. "That's what people come to Virgin for -— music and travel." The shift in emphasis by such a well-known service provider could well be mirrored elsewhere in the industry although exactly who might be next is anyone's guess. But with the Net industry in the UK on the brink of yet another Freeserve-style revolution as service providers such as X-Stream Networks and Screaming.Net offer subscription and toll-free Net access, Virgin's decision to focus on content and e-commerce should not really come as a surprise. ®

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