RealTime IT News

@Bigger.net Just Got Smaller

Advertising-based ISP @Bigger.net of San Jose, which offered customers a lifetime of Internet access for a one-time fee of $59.95, could sell all of its assets as early as next week.

The company has closed its offices and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Oct. 13, leaving the ISP's 40,000 subscribers guessing about the company's future.

@Bigger.net first ran into trouble in last year and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 15,1997 owing millions of dollars to creditors.

A number of companies have expressed interest in the ISP. They include ICG Netcom, a subsidiary of ICG Communications Inc. in Colorado. The Internet provider Thursday offered @Bigger.net subscribers one month of free service and a $59.95 credit to customers who stay with Netcom for six months.

"Increasingly, people depend on the Internet and when an ISP terminates service, the Internet community is affected," said Mike Kallet, senior vice president of Netcom operations.

In an effort to lure @Bigger customers, Netcom plans to host an "Internet Care Unit", offering Internet connectivity and other services at the company's San Jose headquarters.

@Bigger based its low subscriber fees on an advertising program that allowed advertisers to target customers using one-to-one marketing techniques, via banner ads. When users logged on to the service, a rotating ad-banner window appeared, but if a user tried to shut the window, Internet access was disabled.