Beeb springs Web service surprise

Swapping public service for Internet service, the BBC will next spring launch BBC Online, it's first attempt at a Web site and access service.

The Web site will be running first, with content based on current TV and radio programmes. The BBC will provide all editorial content free, but extra features may carry a charge later, it said. The service will be based on ICL hardware and software. An ICL-hosted Internet access service will follow, with a 'jargon-free' front-end and firewall to prevent access to adult material from the rest of the Internet. The service will be accessible through major ISPs and will initially be free, though a subscription charge will follow toward the end of next year. A spokesman for ICL said the access service will be fast because users can dial straight into an ICL network dedicated to BBC content, at a local call tariff. He also stressed the service's ease of use: "As far as 'https' go, it'll all be hidden. The idea is to make it as simple as possible to get over the techno-phobia barrier." ICL can be contacted by telephone on 01344-472000.

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