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Freeserve in NTL's sights

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NTL is planning to be the largest ISP in the UK, knocking Freeserve off its perch. One NTL source The Register spoke to this morning was almost giddy with excitement and bullish anticipation. "We're going to be bigger than Freeserve," he said. "NTL probably has the best cable network in Europe, if not the world," he chirped. Which is great - no capacity problems there when it launches in six weeks time. But what about the registration backlog that has hit other services including CallNet0800 and Telewest? The answer seems to be that if people form an orderly queue and wait their turn instead of stampeding the service and bringing it to its knees, then all will be well. "It's going to be done on a first come, first served basis," said the NTL source. The NTL source also said that today's announcement was not in response to cableco rival, Telewest, introducing a flat-fee service last month. Elsewhere, NTL has issued more details about its new flat-fee unmetered Net access service, ntlworld. The service will be available throughout Britain from 17 April. Users will be able to access the service via their PC and, later this year, via their TV. According to the cableco: "ntlworld features no ISP subscription charge, no call connection charge and no Internet call charges." "NTL will be the first major company to launch a genuinely free Internet access service in the UK," it added in a press statement, although execs at CallNet0800 would probably disagree. Barclay Knapp, NTL CEO, said: "NTL has a vision to bring the Internet to all UK homes - either via the PC, or the TV. "ntlworld will help the UK in a drive to lead the world in making ecommerce, e-entertainment and e-education available to everyone. "We're able to announce this today because we own a high-quality national network and have a track-record of providing innovative services at great prices. And you don't get much better than free," he said. Responding to NTL's claims that it would overtake Freeserve, a spokesman for the Dixon's spin-off said: "We'll speak again in a year." ® Related Stories Blair hails NTL Free Everything ISP plans It's first come, first served: AltaVista Telewest to offer unlimited Net access

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