breathe gasps for survival

Scraps Net access for life

breathe.com, Britain's ISP for trendy people, is seeking a rescue buyer, in a 'last ditch effort to find fresh funds'. And if it fails, it could be in receivership within two weeks, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

Surprising? Not exactly. Today, breathe shuts down its flat rate access for life service- a decision that would have cost it £2.5 million in customer refunds. Only it's not returning the money. The company says the 'breathe freely' package - introduced in April - is no longer viable. But it hasn't exactly planned an orderly withdrawal - the decision to scrap the service was announced only on Friday.

Flat fee access becomes commercially viable next year, with the introduction of FRIACO, when BT stops charging ISPs by the minute. In the meantime, heaps of British ISPs have lost heaps of money with flat rate access loss-leaders. breathe has been more kamikaze than most, offering astonishingly generous terms - £ 50 for lifetime Internet access. In July, breathe shunted off the 500 most active users - and refunded their £ 50.

The trouble with Breathe is that is designed by metropolitan marketeers for people who are just like... metropolitan marketeers. There simply ain't enough of these lifestyle monkeys to go around. In this instance, this is goddamn lucky, as only 50,000 people signed up for the lifetime deal, before the company pulled the plug on new subscribers in June. Apparently, breathe.com has 500,000 subscribers in total. ®

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