LineOne goes free(ish)

Just when you thought it was safe to commit to one free(ish) ISP... along comes another. Justin Pearse reports

The latest ISP to offer unmetered access is LineOne, which on Friday announced that it would be joining the party on 31 March.

Unlike AltaVista's offering, there will be no introductory administration fee or annual subscription charge. Subscribers will have to commit to spending £5 a month on voice calls, register with telecomms company Quip and purchase a £20 telephone dialler -- a box that redirects calls via LineOne.

The popularity of free Internet calls has caused problems for other ISPs this week, such as CallNet and ntl, with Web sites and registration systems buckling under demand. Perhaps risking egg on his face on the 31 March launch date, Ajay Chowdhury, managing director of LineOne, says he is aware that "the key issue is making sure people don't have a bad experience" when trying to sign up for the service.

"We are very concerned that we have enough capacity," he says, "but we have been looking at this very carefully and are aware that this offer will be fantastically popular."

LineOne would not disclose the numbers it was expecting to sign up for the service, but Chowdhury says he is confident "we can handle several hundred thousand". Unlike AltaVista, which is limiting initial registration for its service to 500,000, LineOne "has no limitation plans at the moment", according to Chowdhury.

Consumers will be able to register for the service starting on Monday.

Find out more about free Internet access in our Unmetered Access Guide.

Free and unmetered internet access has been on the agenda for some time -- right now the battle is on. Go to AnchorDesk UK to get the news comment from Tony Westbrook.

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