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0800 ISP touts 24/7 flat-fee access

But £49.99 a month? Ain't that a bit steep

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A Scottish ISP is offering unlimited 24/7 access to the Net for a flat monthly fee of £49.99. The service is part subsidised by a banner ad on the desktop that changes every 30 seconds. The management team at 08004u has already established a number of e-commerce partnerships with e-tailers such as WH Smith Online and Lastminute.com which will, no doubt, also help fund the service. Net users who just want unmetered Net access during off-peak hours without having to switch telcos, as is the case with Screaming.net and GreatXscape for example, can get limited toll-free access for £24.99 a month The move is guaranteed to make the industry's ears prickle with anticipation although a number of people have already expressed privately that they feel the monthly fee for 24/7 access may be a bit steep. That said the launch of 08004u is yet another indication of the ever increasing diversity of the ISP market in Britain and shows just how far it has come since Freeserve launched its ground-breaking service this time last year. "We're the first company in the UK to offer 0800 access for a fixed monthly fee," said MD David Banks talking to The Register this morning. "Our target is to bring down the cost of 24/7 access to about £30 a month," he said. The more ad revenue it generates, the more savings it will pass on to its customers, maintains 08004u. Banks wouldn't say which companies were providing the network infrastructure but he revealed he had agreements with several providers. "Because we'll be using multiple networks it means we shouldn't get any problems [with people trying to access the service]," he said. Although 08004u has the capacity to handle 250,000 users Banks is expecting to cater for around 100,000 Internauts. The launch of 08004u was brought forward from 1 October to last night to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime freak of time. The service officially went live at 9pm on the 9/9/99. Coincidentally, the 08004u model appears to be a carbon copy of a scheme BT is rumoured to be developing. AOL UK confirmed today it is still trialling its own plans for 0800 access. A spokeswoman for the company said no date had yet been concerning any possible launch. ® Tune into Cash Register and turn on to our daily Net Finance News

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