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CMGI to buy ISP for AltaVista

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CMGI - the company that owns AltaVista - says that it is looking to buy an ISP or telco to help generate more traffic for its portal.

Marcus Bicknell, CMGI European president, said he is looking for acquisitions in Britain, France and Germany.

"It will be many weeks before we make a move, but I wouldn't be surprised if we go a little deeper in the Internet access business, either by associating with major telecom companies or by acquisition of Internet service providers," Bicknell told Reuters yesterday.

Hang on a minute. Hasn't AltaVista already got an ISP in Britain offering unmetered Net access?

Doesn't it have a queue of more than a million people waiting to sign up to the service?

How much "deeper" does he want to go in Britain?

In light of the "spot the Alta Vista unmetered Net user" farce currently being played out, Bicknell's comments are staggering.

Perhaps he should have a word with Andy Mitchell, AltaVista's MD in the UK and Ireland, who is away on holiday and unable to comment on allegations that its much-hyped, Tony Blair-backed offering is nothing more than a phantom service.

Bicknell, not surprisingly, was also unavailable for comment by press time.

Last Friday, Alta Vista began issuing an email to the million or so people who had registered for its "groundbreaking" flat-fee unmetered service.

In it, Mitchell offered two alternative ISP packages, neither of which is the headline-grabbing unmetered package that turned the Alta Vista from a Net brand into a household name overnight.

Mitchell said: "AltaVista Unlimited Internet Access launched on 30 June 2000, and is currently being rolled out to our list of pre-registered customers. So as to ensure the quality of this service, AltaVista has elected to rollout this service in a controlled manner. We will provide the service to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible, whilst ensuring that your online experience is a good one."

Yeah right. Prove it. ®

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