AltaVista cans free Net access in US

Probably for the best, eh?

AltaVista's dismal dalliance with providing Internet access is finally about to come to an end.

The company's subscription free service in the US funded by ads is to be pulled on 10 December.

The company said it was forced to take the action because "the company who provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure, 1stUp.com, is going out of business".

What AltaVista fails to mention in an otherwise bleating letter to its customers is that 1stUp.com is part of the CMGI company - the same as AltaVista.

According to reports, CMGI announced last month it was to close 1stUp.com - although finding any record of such an important announcement on CMGI's Web site proved elusive. Indeed, to find any "bad" news on CMGI's site was tricky. So much so, if I was an investor who knew nothing about CMGI, I'd reckon they were quite an attractive bunch. Amazing what a lot of editing can do.

In a bid to make things right, AltaVista has negotiated a special rate for its customers to transfer their ISP needs to MSN - for an initial discounted price of $0 a month for three months. After that, punters will have to pay $21.95 a month.

In an email signed by Ken Neibaur, VP, marketing, AltaVista, he whined: "We regret to inform you that AltaVista's free Internet access will terminate service on 10 December. AltaVista thoroughly investigated finding another supplier to provide a free Internet access service. However, we were unable to find a company that was able to meet the needs of our members."

Still, at least the US enjoyed a subscription free service from AltaVista - even if it only lasted 16 months. In the UK, AltaVista promised a service but failed to deliver. Better to have loved and lost... ®

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