Online portal AltaVista Co. informed its users Dec. 5 that it was canceling its free Internet access, a service supplied by CMGI-sibling company 1stUp.com, which will be shutting down operations Dec. 10. AltaVista had signed up 3 million users to the service. An AltaVista spokesman said the company "searched for viable alternatives but couldn't find any." As an alternative, he said AltaVista has done a deal with Microsoft to offer its users free MSN service for three months, followed by $21.99 a month access. It was also offering a deal on MSN broadband access. Others using the 1stUp service, including Lycos and Excite@Home, are being forced to find alternatives. Excite@Home said it is evaluating other options but planned to continue its FreeLane service.
The downturn in online ad sales has seriously hindered the free ISP business model. Spinway, a 1stUp rival, announced Dec. 4 it was shutting down and Kmart Corp.-backed Bluelight.com would be acquiring certain assets of the company.
Copyright December 2000, Crain Communications Inc.