RealTime IT News

Granada to Launch G-Wizz! Free Internet Service

Granada Media Group Monday announced plans to join the free ISP fray with the autumn launch of its free Internet service, dubbed G-Wizz!

Calling it an "ESP" -- for "Entertainment Service Provider" -- Granada said the new service represents a £30 million ($48 million) investment over three years. It will carry extensive content based on popular TV shows, and will provide an opportunity to sell videos, music CDs and other Granada Group products online.

"By entering the market at this point, G-Wizz! can build on the best of both the U.S. and U.K. Internet models as both a content rich online service that is a destination in itself and by also offering free Internet and e-mail services," said Charles Allen, chief executive of the parent Granada Group.

Granada's entry into the Internet business dramatically alters a commercial landscape that has been changing rapidly over the past few days. With news of unmetered weekend calls by BT Internet and an upcoming stock market flotation by Freeserve, the G-Wizz! announcement adds further excitement to a booming Internet industry in the U.K.

One of the key features of G-Wizz! will be its educational content, provided by publisher Granada Learning with its bank of 850 educational titles. The educational service will be offered via subscription and pay per use, and will help users acquire academic and professional qualifications.

The Granada Group, with its extensive media interests and 5,000 rental shops, restaurants, hotels and other catering outlets, will make G-Wizz! the focus of its online activities.