BT Launches Free Internet Access Service

British Telecom has become the latest
entrant into the growing band of ISPs in the UK providing free access to the

Having watched the runaway success of Dixons’ Freeserve, which now claims
over a
million members, BT has launched BT ClickFree–the first service of its kind to
no user registration.

One source of revenue for BT will come from its partnership with Value
Direct, giving
ClickFree users quick access to online shopping. BT said that they will be
to purchase a range of goods at lower prices than those at “any other access
or traditional high street retailer.” BT does not mention the electronic
retail chain
Dixons by name, but its competitive stance is clear.

“BT has introduced ClickFree in response to customer demand for a free
service combining
and the quality of service which they have come to expect from BT,” said
John Swingewood, BTs director of Internet and multimedia.

“This is a positive and logical move for BT and its customers. We will
continue to respond to
our customers and to develop ClickFree to make it the most competitive
service on the
market. Our deal with Value Direct means that we have gone even further
than just free
Internet access. BT ClickFree users will be able to shop online for a range of
electrical goods and obtain greater discounts which are not available
through other Internet
access services.”

Swingewood also defended the much-criticised Click+ service.

existing pay-as-you-go service, BT Click+, has already been praised for its
simplicity and it has continually performed well in benchmarking tests by

Among the features of BT ClickFree will be information and entertainment
content from Excite, together with BT’s own free e=mail address service, talk21.
BT plans a major upgrade of talk21 to POP3 in March to allow users
to read and write
their e-mail offline.

BT will charge 50 pence per minute for use of its ClickFree helpline–on a
par with the reduced rates now being offered by Freeserve. BT says that
existing Click+
customers can upgrade to ClickFree via the Click+ homepage.

To become a ClickFree user, customers need only visit, or acquire
the free CD, obtainable by calling Freefone 0800 731 7887 in the UK.

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