RealTime IT News

Terra Networks Joins Brazil's Free Access Fray

Terra subsidiary Terra Networks Brasil Thursday joined the free Internet access rage which has been taking the country by storm over the past month.

The company intends to launch Terra Livre on Feb. 5 in Sao Paulo. Other cities will be added, and a full deployment calendar is expected to be released soon. Terra has also cut the cost of its paid-access service to R$19.90 per month, down from R$35 per month, and now includes free tech support.

Terra aims to use the new free service to drive traffic to its portal. As with each of the new wave of free ISPs, it also expects its decision to rely on ad revenue as a contribution to lifting the region's Internet penetration rate.

Terra-Brazil, also known as Zaz, will continue its subscription service as well, but has added more features to lend more appeal to the pay option including unlimited e-mail addresses, roaming services in countries where Terra operates, 50 MB of data storage and the same for personal sites.

Terra Livre will offer one e-mail account, 10 MB each for data storage and for personal Web pages, one month of free customer service before support fees begin. Chat, instant messaging, premium content and calendars are only available on the paid service.

"There is no doubt (that) free access is the upcoming trend. That's why today we are announcing a strategy that will allow us to offer to our Brazilian customers a new way to access the Net," said Marcelo Lacerda, Director of Terra-Brazil.

The explosion of free ISP services in Brazil was sparked off by the introduction of Internet Gratuito following a month of free offerings through regional banks, according to a Reuters report, which also said that Internet Gratuito enlisted more subscribers in its first month of operations than AOL drew in the same time frame.