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RealTime IT News

BlueLight Expands Footprint, Dumps Ad Banner

K Mart's Internet arm is looking a little more like a premium Internet service provider (ISP) and less like a free ISP after a Tuesday decision by its executives to drop the ad banner from its service and add more dial in numbers for customers to use.

It's a move in the right direction for the formerly-free ISP, which has lately been in a quandary as it decided how best to move its customers from providing free dial-up Internet services to paid, premium services.

BlueLight.com's customers are a little bit different than the customers at most ISPs around the country, and around the world for that matter. The free ISP was originally brought into existence to bring online customers to shop at their online site, not provide just Internet service.

And until recently, BlueLight.com was a free Internet service free of outright control by its parent company, the real-world retail giant based out of Troy, MI, but a downturn in online advertising spending forced the company to look for other revenue generators, like charging for Internet access.

Since then, BlueLight.com has been quickly transitioning its service to embrace a culture of making money on its own and not being a vehicle to make money for K Mart's goods. The ISP today charges $8.95 a month for Internet connection.

To that end, it announced its expanded dial up coverage nationwide, giving more people local call-in numbers at the BlueLight.com ISP.

They based this decision off of a recent Consumer Reports survey, which found many people were turned off by ISPs that didn't offer enough service numbers to keep their Internet connection interruption-free.

According to Heidi Gibson, BlueLight.com general manager, the expansion is also the result of high demand.

"We have seen an incredible response to our new BlueLight Unlimited Internet Service and want to make sure we can meet demand levels by providing the highest level of connectivity possible," Gibson said. "It's critical that we form relationships with stable, high-quality network services providers such as Qwest to fulfill our commitment to our subscribers to provide always-available Internet access."

According to BlueLight.com officials, the ISP now has more than 5,000 POPs around the country, double what AOL has to offer.

The ISP has also decided to do away with the infamous ad banner, a staple in any free ISP product offering and the reason why ISPs were able to offer free Internet services. To make up for a monthly charge, the ISP would sign a company to an advertising deal, guaranteeing x number of people would see the ad every month. The ad banner was that vehicle.

BlueLight.com has instead opted for a task bar, which can float free or get docked to the top or bottom of the Web browser. On the task bar are K Mart-specific channels and an area to check @mybluelight.com email.