Excite@Home jumps into free access game

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Excite@Home Jan. 6 kicked off free Internet access called Freeworld Powered by Excite. The new service is backed by technology from CMGI-majority owned 1stUp.com Corp., a company that creates customized ad-supported Internet access for companies including AltaVista and Gay.com.

The service (freeworld.excite.com) will offer dial-up access for users with modem speeds up to 56K. Excite@Home will continue to charge for its high-speed cable Internet service. Last month, free e-mail provider Juno Online Services announced ad-supported access as did Yahoo! through a co-branded site with Kmart Corp.'s site BlueLight.com.

Meanwhile, start-up Broadband Digital Group last week said it would offer free high-speed DSL Web service in April. Its FreeDSL comes with strings attached, notably that users who want a free modem must convince 10 other people to register for the service. The company would generate revenue by selling targeted rich-media ads.

Jupiter Communications predicts that 13% of all online users will access the Web through a free service by 2003.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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