Demon: 'We're not going free'

Not convinced the free model is all its hyped-up to be, Demon Internet will not be dropping its subscription charges, now or anytime in the future. Demon charges £10 per month for access.

Martin Higginson, director of interactive services for parent company Scottish Telecom slapped down rumours that Demon would be forced to adopt the free model but admitted the ISP had had a "rough time" recently.

Higginson's statement could be a disappointment for thousands of Demon customers: AOL -- thought to be the last bastion of the paid-for-model -- recently U-turned on free access. If, and when AOL does launch a free service, Demon will be one of the few UK ISPs still charging for access.

Describing Demon as "the jewel in Scottish Telecom's crown", Higginson is not worried by the ferocious growth of the free model. "We are not concerned at all," he said. "We are in the business of quality."

Demon has had much unwanted publicity following the Demon v Laurence Godfrey defamation case. Higginson is now resigned to a slow growth: "We are not growing as quickly as I want but we are never going to see a million users. But we are strong in what we offer," he said.

Higginson predicts Demon will have around 325,000 subscribers in six months -- current numbers stand at 290,000 -- and promises new services like online fantasy football and paid connection for users wishing to move to ISDN.

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