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The latest entrant in the free Internet access stakes is Excite UK. With a single £50 annual charge and £20 for subsequent years, Excite is claiming there are no hidden costs such as monthly subscription charges or forcing users to change from their current telephone service provider. U Users also get free email and 5Mb of web space. A family service is available at extra cost which supports up to four email addresses. TFI (The Free Internet) also offers single-channel ISDN access and 30 minutes before auto disconnect. Although the service is billed as 24/7 without restrictions, the small print in the terms and conditions reveals a block on bandwidth-hungry tasks such as streaming audio and video, MP3 downloads and frequent automatic checks for new email. But an Excite spokesman told The Register>/i> that the restrictions could just be a temporary measure: "We're at the bleeding edge here, we'll be reviewing traffic levels continually and could see some restrictions being lifted within a couple of months." He added that LAN modem sharing under Windows 2000 was also possible. For users wanting unrestricted access, Excite offers another service using local call rates. More at Excite.co.uk. ®

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