Freeserve suspends registration for unmetered

Latest chapter in unmetered soap-opera: Freeserve stops taking on new members for unmetered package

Freeserve (quote: FRE) admitted Monday it has suspended registration for its unmetered service.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks for the ISP, which helped revolutionise the Internet market in the UK with the introduction of free subscription. Just last week it learned it was being thrown off the FTSE 100 index as a result of sharply sliding share prices.

Freeserve was put under pressure by shareholders to offer an unmetered service in the summer following the subsequently cancelled promise of Internet access for a tenner from US firm Alta Vista. The service, which it offers via BT's SurfTime, has always been subsidised by the ISP. It has also admitted to bandwidth problems and at the beginning of the month Freeserve got tough on bandwidth hogs, threatening to throw heavy users off if they did not change their surfing habits

Despite the problems, a spokesman for Freeserve claims there are "absolutely no" plans to scrap unmetered entirely but admits the ISP is struggling to cope with demand. "We have temporarily suspended new registrations and are working to add new capacity," he says.

The registration suspension is indefinite but Freeserve is keen to roll out a Friaco-style service by the end of the year. Friaco is generally regarded as a much more workable and financially viable unmetered product than SurfTime.

Freeserve is the latest victim of a long line of unmetered fiascos. Both LineOne and AltaVista have also cancelled offerings and breathe and World Online have set limits on their unmetered packages.

When will unmetered Net access arrive in the UK? To have your say online click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.

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