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The current mania for launching subscription-free Internet services shows no sign of waning despite warnings today that there are already too many ISPs in Western Europe (see Euro Net market too small to support so many ISPs). BBC Worldwide's commercial web service, beeb.com, has confirmed it is the latest outfit to offer a subscription-free service. Available later in the summer, freebeeb.com is an alliance between BBC Worldwide and ScottishTelecom, which owns Demon Internet. ScottishTelecom will provide the technology behind the service, and beeb.com will provide the content. The BBC was at pains to point out that no public funds would be used to support freebeeb.net. "The Internet is becoming a mainstream medium," said Rupert Gavin, BBC Worldwide's CE. "With the launch of freebeeb.net, BBC Worldwide will provide users with the choice of easy access to both the BBC's online services and the wider Internet, via a known and trusted brand. "It is further evidence of BBC Worldwide's commitment to developing new and exciting online services, which permit closer direct relationships with our online users." The launch of freebeeb.com will also create upwards of 100 jobs. Elsewhere, Irish telco Ocean said yesterday's launch of its subscription-free service would help Ireland become a leader in e-commerce. Acknowledging the significant impact similar services have had in other countries, executives behind oceanfree.net said they hoped that the new service would have a similar effect in Ireland and lead to a tenfold increase in Net users in the next three years. Ocean is a joint venture between BT and Ireland's Electricity Supply Board. ®

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