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'Pretty much on target'

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Freeserve had 49,000 broadband punters in the UK at the end of December, according to figures just released by parent Wanadoo.

In the three months to the end of December the ISP added 21,000 broadband customers to its growing subscriber base. It's a marked improvement compared to the end of June 2002 when the ISP had just 15,000 broadband subscribers.

Freeserve says it is happy with the growth, describing it as "pretty much on target". However, it insists that a fall in the wholesale cost of ADSL would help stimulate further demand for broadband in the UK.

In total, Freeserve has 2.574m punters in the UK - an increase of 330,000 in the year compared to the end of 2001. However, in the last quarter of 2002 customer numbers rose by only 21,000.

The number of pay-as-you-go customers fell by 70,000 to 1.6m during the last three months of the year, offset by an increase by 70,000 who subscribed to Freeserve's flat-fee unmetered service.

A spokeswoman for Freeserve denied that the ISP's growth was a cause for concern saying: "Freeserve is still number one - we've held our own in a very tough market." ®

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