RealTime IT News

Lycos Leaps into Internet Access Free for All

Lycos Inc. Tuesday launched its nationwide free dial-up offering made possible through long-term agreements with 1stUp.com Corp. and wholesale Internet access provider ZipLink, Inc.

CMGI-owned 1stUp.com also supplies ad revenue based free Internet access services AltaVista and Excite@Home (ATHM) through a transport agreement with super-carrier PSINet, Inc. (PSIX). ZipLink (ZIPL) has been tapped to serve up the backbone network infrastructure for the free Lycos service in the U.S. and Canada.

Since AltaVista launched its free access service in August, the popular portal has garnered more than 1 million subscribers to date. Excite@Home launched its free dial-up service about 6-weeks ago. The power portal has already subscribed more than 500,000 new users in the U.S. and Canada.

Jupiter Communications, Inc. (JPTR) predicts that free Internet service providers will provider 13 million Americans with free dial-up access by 2003. Of those 13 million projected subscribers, Jupiter forecasts that 8.8 million will use free ISP services as their primary access to the Internet.

With the addition of Lycos Free Internet Access to its network, the portal expects to rival top search site, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO),which last year launched its Bluelight.com free ISP service through a deal with Kmart.

Lycos (LCOS), the second most popular search destination on the Web, looks to capture significant advertising revenue based on the American Online, Inc. business model of capturing customers through content.

Bob Davis, Lycos president and chief executive officer, said its free dial-up offering bridges the allure of its content with unlimited online access to provide consumers with a single destination to the Web.

"Lycos has seen exceptional growth in page views and registrations over the last few years," Davis said. "We have always relied, however, on an access service to provide that essential connection to the Web. With today's announcement we now combine our premium content with Internet access."

Charles Katz, 1stUp.com president and chief executive officer, said the Lycos service marks a turning point in the free access movement.

"By combining 1stUp.com's technology and infrastructure with Lycos' brand and leading network of Web resources, consumers are growing to realize that there is a better alternative to paid Internet subscriptions," Katz said.

The Lycos free access service is available to about 95 percent of the U.S. The service will be entirely advertising supported, and Lycos intends to aggressively market its free access offering to the 30 million regular users that visit the search site each year.

With more than 100,000 daily new registered users, Lycos may be the next content-based Internet entity to challenge America Online's (AOL) premium-priced Internet access in the marketplace.

The Lycos free dial-up offer includes unlimited Internet access and e-mail accounts t