The free ISP is dead, long live the free ISPs

While 2001 will be remembered for many things, it was the year the last remaining free ISPs became tangled in their non-profitable business model and sunk once and for all.

Not that the industry hadn't seen it coming. As far back as July 2000 IDC was describing the model as unsustainable saying it lacked "commercial reality". However services such as FreeOnline, and Globalfreeway battled on regardless.

Mind you it's little surprise that no one was prepared to listen to the analysts given that just six months before IDC had predicted 2000 would be the "Year of the free ISP".

In theory the business model allowed the service to subsidise the free access through advertising revenue. In practice the bottom fell out of online advertising, just as the services were getting off the ground, and data hungry Internet users were increasingly prepared to pay for services which better fed their habits.

Dennis Muscat, managing director of ISP Pacific Internet says that although free ISPs succeeded in raising the awareness of the Internet, and provided many with a taste test, the service itself was often poor.

Download: ZDnet Australia

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