WorldNet adds heavy use charge

Summary:A day before online service behemoth America Online Inc. is set to raise its monthly fee from the $19.

A day before online service behemoth America Online Inc. is set to raise its monthly fee from the $19.95 industry standard, AT&T Corp.'s million-member WorldNet service said it is adding a surcharge for heavy Net users.

Starting May 1, WorldNet subscribers on the monthly $19.95 plan will pay an additional 99 cents per hour after they pass 150 hours of usage, company officials said. Per month, 150 hours works out to about five hours of Internet use a day.

But subscribers to the 10-hour plan, who now pay $9.95 per month plus $2.50 for each additional hour, will pay 99 cents per added hour after May 1, officials said.

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"The Internet has arrived as a mass medium and usage is soaring," said Dan Schulman, president of AT&T's WorldNet unit, in a statement. "We're taking these steps so that AT&T WorldNet will continue to provide industry-leading network performance at a fair price."

Just 3 percent of the service's users are expected to pay more under the new plan, WorldNet officials said. The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company also offered a guarantee that it will not raise the $19.95 rate again for the remainder of the year.

Most AOL subscribers will pay more starting April 1 -- no joke.

AOL (AOL), feeling the pressure when usage soared among its 12 million-strong user base, announced last month that starting April 1, its $19.95 unlimited-access plan will go up to $21.95. No changes are to be made in AOL's $9.95 plan for access to its proprietary content only and its $4.95 "light usage" plan.

AT&T (T) also announced plans to add modems, lines and access numbers in cities where customer demand is heaviest.

Topics: Mobility

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