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Alta Vista UK to launch free everything ISP

Except for £30 set-up fee

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Alta Vista is to offer a free telephone access/no subscription fee ISP service in the UK. Operating from an 0800 number, the new ISP will charge customers set-up fee of £30. And that’s it. There’s nothing else to pay. We understand Lycos, CMGI’s fellow subsidiary, is poised also to announce the launch of a free telephone access ISP service in the UK, perhaps as soon as this week. Alta Vista is to restrict the service for six months to just 500,000 customers according to The Sunday Times, where news of its plans was leaked. This is probably sensible: every flat-fee, or free ISP service launched in recent months has buckled under the demand. In the UK, the company will have to subsidise the telephone calls of customers using its ISP service. It is difficult to see that it can claw all of this back by flogging more banner ads. But what's the betting that a big name ISP will jump in with a similar deal but with no set up fee before Alta Vista has finished its trials? There is a game of 0800/no fee ISP leapfrog going on. And it is easy for service provider and customer to get caught out. Last week, for example, a Register staffer was invited to join a trial for a unmetered service that he had express interest in joining several months ago. Then the prices looked great. Now, it seems ordinary. Next month, it could look punitive. Alta Vista is a latecomer to the European market. The browser/portal service launched local operations last year in the UK, Germany and Sweden. Last week it announced country services for France and The Netherlands. Alta Vista last year set up a subscription-free ISP service for the US. ® Related stories Lycos comes to US market with free Net access We're so sorry, says SurfVeryLimited firm BT Surftime hits wipe out BT offers free local calls 'within a year' German students get cut price AOL rates Deutsche Telekom parades Net flat fees

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