A Year Ago: Internet cafe does totally free Internet time

Old hand Cyberia is to provide free Internet access to customers

Cyberia, the first Internet cafe to launch in the UK, is to introduce totally free Internet access it announces Tuesday.

The new service will start on 20 July and is being sponsored by free ISP Zoom, Easynet and interactive music company eJay. Shopping portal Zoom is the brainchild of Eva Pascoe, one of the founders of Cyberia.

Cyberia believes the three month sponsorship, coupled with the sale of food and drink in the cafe, will cover costs. Another three sponsors are currently being courted.

A spokesman for EasyEverything -- the Internet cafe chain set up by EasyJet millionaire Stelios Haji-Ioannou -- has no intention of following suit. "We are only asking for a pound. People give away that without thinking about it," says a spokesman. He is not convinced by Cyberia's business model.

"There is no such thing as a free lunch. One wonders how long it will be until Cyberia go out of business."

The spokesman believes the free Internet model will be beneficial to Internet cafes, without them having to jump on the bandwagon. "People are going to go away and need to do something. In our cafes 30 percent of visitors are Londoners who have access to the Internet and live locally," he says.

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