AOL Europe Announces Free Internet Access

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AOL Europe, threatened by a no-fee rival called Freeserve that is now Britain's biggest Internet service provider, announced today that it will launch its own free service under the name Netscape Online. The move comes three weeks after America Online unveiled a promotion in the U.S. that effectively gives a free and perfectly good computer to anyone willing to commit to three years of monthly online service charges from subsidiary CompuServe.

Subscription fees account for 85 percent of AOL's global revenue, but the high cost of local telephone calls metered by the minute in Britain make Internet access a more expensive proposition than in the U.S. Freeserve and 100-odd imitators hope to get a piece of the telephone charges (sometimes 60 percent of the total charges), in addition to revenues from advertising and e-commerce. MORE >>