RealTime IT News

Spain's Retevisi´┐Żn Expands Free Net Access

Spain's second largest telephone operator intensified its race for market share this week by announcing free Internet access to all Spanish consumers, whether or not they are Retevisión customers.

The move is part of Retevisión's goal "to become the comprehensive multimedia reference for Spanish consumers," said Pedro de Torres, company president.

The company's customer base has more than tripled to 340,000 since the company started offering Internet access through the professional service Iddeo, the consumer service Alehop and limited free service through Canal 21. The universal free access offer takes effect this month.

In addition to free access, Retevisión will begin offering free content this month at Excite España, the Web portal spawned from a $20 million joint venture with Excite. In addition to search capabilities and Web site indexing, the site will offer up-to-date weather forecasts.

Incorporating Excite content into Retevisión's free Internet services is just "the tip of the iceberg" Marcel Coderch, director of Retevisión's Internet division, told the business daily Cinco Dias.

Retevisión set off a wave of industry-wide free Net access offers in June when it offered free access to anyone who signed up for its telephony services. Telefónica, the former state monopoly and market leader, quickly upstaged that limited offer with an across-the-board offer of free access to everyone.

Coderch predicted that Retevisión would account for about half of all new Spanish Internet users. Some estimates calculate Spanish Web use at up to eight million users by year's end.