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Telinco's free Net service is a sitting duck

Details leak out about next week's launch -- we suspect fowl play

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Cheshire-based ISP Telinco is to launch its 0800 dial-up service next week. Details about the new service are still sketchy since the ISP is trying hard to keep it under wraps until next Wednesday. Unfortunately, the little that is known is rather puzzling, even bordering on the weird. For Telinco's not very well-kept secret is called Strayduck.com and the teaser running on its Web site is just plain daffy. Images of a talking egg hatching alongside day-by-day diary entries could make Telinco a sitting duck for anyone cruel enough to take a pot shot at the service. But cheap jibes don't bother Telinco's marketing director, Simon Preston -- for him, they're like water off a duck's back. "We made a deliberate decision to avoid using 'free' or '0800' in the name," he said, believing instead that the service will have value without such narrow constraints. While he wouldn't say exactly how the service would be paid for, he did rule out two models. People won't be expected to pay money up front for the service, nor will they be expected to pay any form of subscription or transfer phone companies to take advantage of 0800 access. Which suggests that Strayduck.com will be paid for partly by revenue generation (e-commerce and/or advertising) and partly by telephony charges. The question is what combination Strayduck.com will employ and whether it will throw in any other mechanism to offset the cost of subsidising Net access. The answer could lie behind mega e-commerce emporium hoojit.com which appears to have close links with Telinco. Then again... ®

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