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Free ISP Files for Bankruptcy

Three days after withdrawing a proposal for a $172.5 million IPO, free ISP Freei Networks Inc. (also known as FreeInternet.com, filed on Friday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle.

Freei Networks, based in Federal Way, Wash., provides no-fee dial-up Internet access to 1,500 cities in North America and Singapore and allows users to subscribe anonymously. It serves about 3.2 million subscribers nationwide and gains revenue from ad banners.

Freei Chief Executive Officer Robert McCausland said Tuesday that the company had withdrawn the IPO due to "current market conditions." The Friday before that, Freei laid of 90 employees, about 30 percent of its workforce, reportedly due to an inability to meet the payroll.

The company has been burning through money rapidly for a while. In 1999, it lost $19 million on revenue of $983,000.

Freei said users will experience "absolutely no interruption of service" during the bankruptcy proceedings.



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