The end of Net access as we know it...

Free ISPs are hot, but the real money will be in content, says a pundit.

Internet access providers are rushing to jump into bed with Internet content providers of every sort. According to one analyst the trend heralds the end of UK Internet access as we know it.

Today BT Click revealed plans to link up with Excite UK to supply a broader range of content and services on its site. At the same time the Sun's free ISP, Currantbun.com, announced a similar alliance with Scoot UK.

James Eibisch, senior analyst at IDC research, says this is symptomatic of the changing face of UK Internet access. "There is no future in just being an ISP. Ownership of customers is moving from ISPs to content providers and it's all about branding and advertising."

Eibisch warns however that just packaging content with access is not enough and, unless something good is on offer, consumers will take no notice. "If content is not adding real value to a site people will bypass it," he says. "With the amount of content that is out there it has to be exciting, imaginative and innovative."

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