RealTime IT News

Free Net Service Launched in Italy

Following the success of free Internet service in England, where four of 10 users access the world wide web at the cost of a local telephone call, two Italian telecommunications companies, Tiscali and Infostrada, have launched similar services for Net patrons in this Mediterranean peninsula.

In April, Tiscali introduced FreeNet, including an email box and three mb of web space at no cost to users, other than a local telephone connection. The service, which saves Internet users an annual ISP subscription of Lit.300.000 (US$175.00) is currently available only to those living in Rome, Milan and the island of Sardinia.

"FreeNet service will be available to all Italians by June," said a company spokesperson. "And allows unlimited access to the Web. All one need do is link to one of Tiscali's Internet partners, such as Virgilio, and click on FreeNet. They will automatically receive a password and ID number that lets them utilize the no-cost service."

Infostrada, the telecommunications company owned by Olivetti Group, began a similar service in February called Internet 1055. By dialing the 1055 prefix, users are automatically linked to the Web at the cost of a regular telephone call. As part of the Internet 1055 package, Infostrada provides two e-mail addresses, but no web space.

The fact that ISP subscriptions in Italy do not include free access--one must still pay the per minute call rate to Telecom Italia, or other carrier--the no-cost Internet service from Tiscali and Infostrada are certain to be a hit among net users.

"If the success in England is any indication, we can expect an overwhelming acceptance to the FreeNet offer. In the UK, 40 percent of all Internet users are connecting through free access," said a Tascali agent.