Toll-free Web access doomed to fail

Cable & Wireless turns nose up at free model

Cable & Wireless Communications has no plans to introduce toll-free Net access in the UK and doesn't believe that the model is financially viable. Lance Spencer, MD of IP customer solutions and IP strategy at CWC made it clear at a press conference today that there was little future in toll-free access, although he did stress that the subscription-free model -- popularised by Dixons Freeserve - was here to stay. Asked whether CWC was planing to launch a subscription and toll-free Net access service similar to Screaming.net and The X-stream Network, he said: "CWC is not looking at the freephone model and we are not convinced about the viability of operating freephone numbers [to access the Net]." Spencer was speaking at a briefing about ic24, the new subscription-free service branded by the Mirror Group. But his denouncement of the 0800 model has been jumped on by the telco underpinning the Screaming.net service and regarded as little more than sour grapes. "I would be very surprised if CWC wasn't at least looking into offering 0800 number access to the Net," said a spokesman for LocalTel. "We gain our revenue from three different sources and from the business plans we've done our service is viable in the long term," he said. ® Click here to email Tim Richardson

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