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Freeserve is crowing with delight that it now has 2.4 million customers – 60 per cent more than arch-rival AOL UK.

Freeserve has chucked megabucks in recent months at marketing campaigns (remember the naked ramblers and, more recently, the hippies?) promoting its £12.99-a-month Net access package.

Despite all this activity, though, the number of punters actually paying Freeserve cash each month increased only by 85,000 between September and January – compared to more than 250,000 who've signed up for Freeserve’s subscription-free pay-as-you-go service.

Which means that as of the end of January Freeserve had 681,000 paying punters.

With 1.5 million subscribers, AOL UK had more than double Freeserve's tally.

Still, that didn’t stop Freeserve complaining last month to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US about AOL's claim to be the UK’s "leading ISP".

No doubt when the SEC gets round to this it will have to decide what "leading" means – number of overall punters or number of paying customers?

Whatever.

Elsewhere, Wanadoo - Freeserve’s French parent – reported that losses for the year increased to E193m (£118m) on revenues of E1.56bn (£950m). ®

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