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Another Net company has announced its intentions to launch an unmetered flat-fee service. Free Internet Group of Brentford, Middlesex, says it will provide the service for a one-off payment of £50 and £20 a year membership fee. Family membership costs £100.

The outfit says it is "aiming to be the biggest ISP in Europe within two years." Don't they all.

Christopher Whalen, MD of Free Internet Group Ltd and a former investment banker for Prudential Volpe Technology Group in New York, said: "In the plainest terms, our business model emulates those industry leaders like AltaVista, 1stUp and CMGI, Yahoo! and NetZero by shifting the cost of providing Internet access and content from the consumer to advertisers and sponsors. Which is fine, except this ISP's portal didn't have a single ad on its site when we checked it out today, or any reference to sponsors. "We see the UK as being clearly the most developed European Internet market thus -- the ideal launch pad from which we can expand into the rest of the EC," he said. (EC? Doesn't he mean EU? -- ED)

What's more, the T&Cs are enough to make anyone go cap in hand to BT begging them for the "good old days" when you paid through the nose for Net access. No online gaming. No commercial use. No audio/video streaming. No directing e-mails. You get disconnected after two minutes inactivity and booted off after an hour.

Elsewhere, Kent-based JAK Group -- the outfit behind Free4All -- launched its 0800 service today. Called RedHotAnt, it claims to be the first non-telecom provider to go live with such a service in Britain. The ISP will support Windows, Mac, Amiga and Acorn O/S users. Users have to shell out a one-off joining fee of £30.00 and then an annual renewable fee of between £10 to £30 depending on the level of services and type of technical support they want. The service will support any modem speeds up to 56k and ISDN lines. And from July 2000, Global SoHo said will begin offering unmetered internet access for a fixed fee of £19.99 a month. The service is aimed at small businesses and home offices. ®

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