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RealTime IT News

UK Firm Finds New Angle On Free Access

A UK start-up has found a new angle on the highly competitive free Internet access market -- mutuality.

New ISP themutual.net, which is to be launched in July, plans to let its customers own 50 percent of the business for free.

Hoping to grab a substantial share of the market with its innovative play, themutual.net will give the first 10,000 subscribers 10,000 units each. It will allocate 1,000 units to each of the next 500,000 users and subsequent subscribers will each receive 500 units. Ambitiously, the ISP hopes the whole issue -- all 2.1 billion units -- will be awarded.

"We've borrowed the age-old concept of a co-operative and applied it to the very latest technology business. It is a simple formula: our customers help us make money and we help them do the same," said Clive Sinclair-Poulton, executive chairman of the themutual.net.

Recently, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson Research issued figures that predicted UK online advertising and e-commerce markets to be worth £490 million ($784 million) and £3.1 billion ($5 billion) respectively by 2003.

"A rough valuation for a free UK ISP would be £2.1 billion for 2 million subscribers by the end of 2000," noted Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.