A Year Ago: CallNet reopens totally free Internet floodgates

First published: Mon, 07 Feb 2000 16:13:08 GMT

It's back, it's ready and it's still totally free. CallNet reopens the floodgates. Will Knight reports

CallNet, the little ISP that went totally free and then buckled under demand, has reopened its customer registration process three months after it all got too much.

CallNet failed to predict that unrestricted, completely free dial-up Internet access would result in overwhelming demand from Britain's unmetered-access starved population. It received more than 100,000 registration applications in a few days.

Just a week after the service was launched on November 1 1999, access to CallNet registration was repeatedly toppled before the new ISP eventually admitted it was unable to meet demand and closed its sign-up service to beef up servers.

Shortly afterwards, CallNet CEO Paul Goodman-Simpson agreed to be interviewed by ZDNet Editor Richard Barry and faced up to CallNet's many blunders.

Starting Monday, new users can once again register online at CallNet's Web site and can also sign-up via an automated telephone service. A CallNet spokesman says that the automated numbers can handle up to 1500 calls per minute.

The CallNet spokesman says the registration process has been "simplified and upgraded" and states: "It is not our intention to open for a month and then close down again. We believe that we've put all the measures in place that will satisfy demand." The spokesman also refuses to disclose precisely how much demand CallNet expects once it reopens the flood gates, no doubt learning from the mistake of promising to get everyone online first time around.

Paul Goodman-Simpson has also issued a statement defying November's disastrous events: "Since launch, we have always tried to be a responsible, as well as an innovative, ISP. We suspended registration so that the all-important quality and speed of access we offered our users would never be compromised by the volume of people using the service. The very positive feedback received from those using our service since November proves we have achieved that."

CallNet0800 is a co-operative venture between three entities: CallNet ISP, mobile phone retailer Phones4u and Haymarket Publications.

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