The UK's first totally free Internet service -- CallNet -- launches today. Barely 16 months old, CallNet claims its service will revolutionise the Internet access market in the same way Freeserve did.
The company claims it will receive no more than 10,000 registrations on its first day and has assured prospective users that it is not about to collapse. A company spokesman dismissed claims the service would be overwhelmed by registrations. "There have been some ludicrous suggestions, with someone predicting we will have one million calls on Monday. This is somewhat off the planet."
Despite CallNet's confidence, analysts have also expressed concern over the network's ability to cope with one wondering whether demand would impact the local loop. The spokesman countered: "We work to high standards and it will take an average of 23 seconds to connect. People are not going to have to try fifteen times to get on."
So convinced is CallNet about the scheme's success, it is predicting a Freeserve-style revolution. "We are taking the same step as Freeserve and look how many free services there are now," said the CallNet spokesman who predicted a raft of CallNet imitators.
Users wishing to subscribe will be given a CallNet 0800 number to connect to the Internet for free. There are no subscription charges or setup charges. The company also offers 30 percent savings on all voice calls when a 145 prefix is used. It is partly from these 145 voice calls that the company will make its money, although users are not obliged to use the 145 service. Users who do use the prefix for voice calls will earn CallNet "an undisclosed sum" from BT.
So if CallNet is able to make a profit from voice calls and still offer customers a 30 percent discount, what does that say about BT's business model? "BT makes a lot of profit," the spokesman said.
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