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NTL to back “fair deal” free ISP Freedomi

Promises there will be no charges at all, but there's not much detail either

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Cable company NTL and global advertising agency Leo Burnett are behind the soon-to-be-launched subscription and toll-free ISP Freedomi. A number of industry insiders have already expressed amazement – privately - about NTL's connection, although no one from the Hampshire-based cable company was available at press time to discuss its involvement in the new advertising-led service. But according to the Freedomi Web site, which has been resurrected after being hastily pulled down because of too much press interest, the soon-to-be launched service promises to offer "unlimited free Internet access everyday through [an] 0800 number". Users will also receive shares in the ISP for spending time online and they will receive one hour of "free telephone customer support every day". In a statement posted on the site, Joshua Sayles managing director of Freedom Telecom (the telco behind Freedomi) said: "I sympathise with consumers who are bombarded with 'free' offers only to find that the product isn't free at all and that there is some charge usually hidden away. "It is about time British consumers got a fair deal," he said. The "fair deal" Sayles talks about appears to be to force-feed Net users with ads in return for receiving toll-free access. Paul Dutton, of Screaming.net clone greatxcape.com, which has attracted more than 10,000 users since it launched last week, said the offer sounded very attractive. "But when I phoned up to find out more about it I was told that users would face lots of interruptions from banner ads," he said. Paul Shalet of the X-Stream network -- which pioneered subscription-free access even before Freeserve was an apple in Dixons' eye -- said the service would not appeal to core Net users. "The service is only likely to appeal to the low income market," he said. He claimed many Net users would not tolerate being constantly interrupted by ads. Mike Bernard, marketing director of Freedom Telecom once again refused to reveal any more details about the service. "All will be revealed in the fullness of time," he said. ®

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