RealTime IT News

New Free Access Provider Launches in the Czech Republic

Czech market of the free Internet access has gained new life with the introduction of pan-European ISP World Online.

Ther service's proposed conditions are a bit of an improvement compared to first-to-market Video On Line, which began offering free access in September 1999.

When Video On Line started its free access under the name VOLny.cz, local experts were skeptical about the odds for its success since the incumbent telco Czech Telecom still holds the monopoly on local calls. In effect, ISP fees make no more than 20 to 25 percent of total costs of Internet access in the Czech Republic, making any offering of "free" access significantly less attractive than similar services in the Western Europe.

Despite this, VOLny.cz has been a huge success. It gained about 25,000 new users during the past year and helped VOL top the list of local ISPs in terms of the number of individual users.

The success of VOLny.cz encouraged similar initiatives by other Czech ISPs. Since the beginning of the year, Czech Telecom is rumored to be preparing its own free program, but World Online was faster.

The company entered the Czech market in September by acquiring local ISP CZCOM. World Online has headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and offers its services in 14 countries at the moment. It has more than 1 million individual users and 30,000 business clients worldwide.

Free access provided by World Online in the Czech Republic comprises the cheapest possible telephone rate, a 10 MB e-mail box and 10 MB of Web space.

The importance of free Internet access in the Czech Republic may be fully realized as early as January 1, 2001, when the telecommunication market is scheduled to be liberalized.