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RealTime IT News

Netscape to Users: You Choose

AOL is offering subscribers of its low-priced Netscape Internet service to buy new features a la carte, as it tries to stabilize its customer base and increase the average revenue per user.

Beginning today, users of the Dulles, Va., ISP's $9.95 per month dial-up offering can add several new options.

For $5 a month, subscribers can get a Web accelerator with pop-up ad blocker, which promises to boost Internet speeds five times faster than a standard dial-up connection and suppress intrusive ads.

In addition, the company is offering spam controls that let subscribers configure their settings to reduce unwanted e-mail and scan for viruses before they reach their inboxes. These services can each be added for an additional $1 per month.

"Consumers are looking for the choice to pick and choose the services they want and need. Through our research we've learned that speed, safety and security are of the utmost importance to them so that's what we're delivering first," said Joel Davidson, executive vice president of Netscape ISP.

Over the next year, additional add-on services will be added to the Netscape Internet service, including additional e-mail storage space, Davidson said. Currently, users get up to 10 MB of free storage, he said.

Rival low-price ISPs may offer similar features, but Netscape Internet lets customers choose the ones they feel are worth paying extra for, Davidson said.

AOL, a subsidiary of media giant Time Warner, launched the Netscape service last fall in response to challenges from dial-up competitors like Earthlink and United Online that sell its services under the Juno, NetZero and Bluelight brands.

A spokesman for Westlake Village, Calif.,-based United Online was not immediately available for comment.

In addition to battling over price and features, value-priced ISPs have been working to line up consumer electronics chains to promote their particular brand of Internet service to customers buying PCs.