RealTime IT News

BDG Activates Free Dial-Up Access, Web-Based Email

Broadband Digital Group this week fired-up it's free offerings of dial-up Internet access and Web-based e-mail services to lure new subscribers to its advertising-supported digital subscriber line offering.

Available through the company's Winfire 2.0 software, registered free DSL users can automatically download the software required to support BDG's free basic services.

Ryan Steelberg, BDG president and co-chief executive officer, said the company takes the industry's best value proposition, free broadband access, and make's it even better.

"Now, FreeDSL registrants have the option to switch from their current dial-up provider to our free dial-up service, saving them money and affording them access to the Internet at home and when on the road," Steelberg said.

Many different companies offer free basic dial-up and e-mail services, but most of the services are based on advertising-supported business models. The BDG free basic service program enables users to enjoy no-fee basic Internet access without having to view banner ads on the desktop.

The same can not be said for BDG's free DSL service. The catch is that anyone signing up for the free high-speed service will be forced to sacrifice half of his or her computer screen to persistent advertising.

Headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., BDG is one of the first providers to offer free broadband Internet access for the consumer market segment. The company rolled out its free DSL services early in April.

The company reported it had signed up 675,000 interested subscribers since it announced the free DSL offer in December 1999. BDG's goal is to have 500,000 DSL committed subscribers, or nearly 20 percent of the consumer market by the end of the year.

BDG is a free access hybrid in that it anticipates 15 percent of its users will be turned off by the constant advertisements supporting of its free-high-speed services and will pay to make them go away. Subscribers can turn off the constant stream of advertisements for basic DSL services by paying $10 a month. BDG also sells ad-free connections for its 384 KBPS service for $20 a month, and a 1.54 MBPS services for $35 each month.

Steelberg said BDG's first goal is to gain the largest subscriber base possible.

"That drives our costs of acquisition down and it allows us to buy network capacity in bulk at discounts," Steelberg said.

BDG's free dial-up and We-based e-mail services are enticing new subscribers to join-up, while driving the cost of acquiring new customers down. BDG supports its free high-speed service with advertising revenues, and supplements the lost of those revenues with paid-for no-ad high speed Internet access.

Free dial-up and free DSL users receive a free Web-based e-mail account accessible anywhere an Internet connection is available. E-mail features include message composition, 6 megabytes of message storage, 10 megabytes of transferable storage, importable address capability, auto-message forwarding to other e-mail accounts, and personal calendar functions.

BDG's free dial-up and e-mail services are available in the 48 contiguous states through local access numbers. Its flagship FreeDSL service is available in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles and Orange County, with plans to continue rolling out to 15 major markets by the end of June.