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Excite Chooses to Wear "150" Cap

Excite, Inc. announced today that its new nationwide Internet access service offered in conjunction with AT&T WorldNet will be the latest to limit users to 150 hours online per month.

The "Excite Online Powered by AT&T WorldNet Service" can be added to the growing list of service providers placing a lid on monthly usage time, albeit for a slightly lower introductory price of $14.95.

AT&T announced a new pricing strategy in March under which users of WorldNet's unlimited access plan are restricted to 150 hours of access per month for $19.95. Additional charges apply to those who surpass that limit.

In May, MCI followed AT&T's lead with a similar pricing plan, a move that also affected the online service the company provides with Yahoo!

America Online was the first major player to take the plunge this year and move away from the traditional $19.95 unlimited access plan. In February, the online service announced it would hike its monthly rate to $21.95, citing the increased costs involved in delivering unlimited access to subscribers.

AOL said its members were spending an average of more than 23 hours a month online compared to just seven hours before unlimited use pricing was introduced.

Excite said today that its $14.95 discounted plan is effective for the first 12 months of service for AT&T Residential Long Distance customers or for the first 6 months of service for non-AT&T Long Distance customers.

Users will be charged an additional 99 cents for every hour spent online beyond the first 150.

The company also said it will offer anonymous voice chat, click-to-dial directories, and conference calling services to subscribers within the next two months.

The "Excite Online Powered by AT&T WorldNet Service" is one of three co-branded Internet access services that AT&T announced in May with leading portal players including Lycos and Infoseek.

Although all three services have been identical in structure thus far, it remains to be seen if both Lycos and Infoseek will also choose to limit customers to 150 hours online per month.