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Freei.Net Stakes Claim in Asian Internet Market

Freei.Net Thursday struck a strategic alliance with Singapore Telecom to offer free Internet access in Asia.

By teaming up with Sing Tel's Internet service division, SingNet, Freei.Net becomes one of the first free access providers to venture into the booming Asia-Pacific Internet access marketplace.

International Data Corp. predicts that the Asia-Pacific market will support more than 80 million Internet users by the year 2003. SingTel has already pre-registered more than one million subscribers for Freei.Net's Asian enterprise, dubbed Zapsurf Freei.

Freei.Net currently provides free Internet access to more than 1.5 million U.S. subscribers. Freei.Net estimates that the partnership with Sing Tel will produce 1.8 million Asian subscribers by April.

Rod Hamlin, Freei.Net vice president of business development, said SingTel is one of the top telecom companies in the world, so it is an ideal alliance for Freei.Net for entry into the untapped Asia-Pacific market.

"The future growth in telecommunications will be driven by the Internet and e-commerce," Hamlin said. "We believe that our partnership with Freei.Net not only makes free Internet access possible in Singapore, but it will also widen the scope of e-products and e-activities available to Internet users."

Paul Chong, SingTel chief executive officer of multimedia, said the companies would work to leverage each other's strengths and expertise throughout Asia.

Zapsurf Freei will debut in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand with different usage plans to suit dial-up home and business users.

SingTel is also Lycos' partner for the Lycos Asia network. The partners intend to roll out a local portal in ten countries in Asia, the first of which debuted in Singapore.