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AOL launches bargain basement Net access

Dusts down Netscape name

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AOL is setting up a cheap-as-chips Internet access service in its American heartland. The dial-up service, branded under the Netscape moniker, offers unlimited access for $9.95 per month.

Customers will get @netscape.com addresses, and built-in spam filters for their email. The home page incorporates a Google search box, and a news headline feed.

Addies containing the two hundred most popular female and male first names e.g. Sarah@Netscape.com - are to be auctioned for charity at eBay. Bidding ends on January 14.

AOL has dusted down the Netscape name for cheap-as-chips Internet access before, and also at a time when it was losing market share to cheaper competitors.

In 1999, the company set up Netscape Online in UK. This was an attempt to take on Freeserve, which had stormed the UK market with a subscription-free, pay-as-you go service.

Two years later, AOL shut down Netscape Online in 2001, as the market switched to flat fee services, which were cheaper for all but the lightest Net users.

So today's launch of Netscape Internet. can be seen as an attempt to compete at the bottom end of the market while avoiding the cannibalisation of its own more expensive premium-branded service. ®

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