But did you ever hear of the 'McDonald's of the Internet'?18.08.98: Quik International, the internet service provider (ISP) franchiser, is coming to Europe. The US company, which sells franchises to aspiring internet entrepreneurs, is about to roll out in the UK, according to a source close to the company. "In two years, Quik International will be in every country - literally everywhere," said the source. The company plans to be the 'McDonald's of the Internet'. For $60,000 a prospective ISP obtains the use of the Quik brand name, an 'exclusive territory', hardware and software installation, and technical training. David Kennedy, chief executive of the Internet Service Providers Association, hadn't heard of the ISP franchise concept but was impressed by the idea. "In principle, it's potentially a very good way of getting into the business," he said. 18.08.03: OK, so maybe Quik hasn't become a household name but it is still going in the US and made a splash by simplifying the process of becoming an ISP. In the UK, though we didn't know it exactly five years ago, the market was about to be turned on its head by the creation of 'free' ISPs. Companies such as X-Stream and Freeserve started up by partnering with telcos or facilities-based ISPs, scrapping monthly subscription charges and splitting call revenues with providers. In a sense, these brands were doing a Quik, though normally on a one-off, non-repeatable basis. They would partner with experts in computing and communications and concentrate on brand, marketing and customer service. Soon, everyone was at it - there were free ISPs from banks, search engine providers, tabloid newspapers, shops and others. It was supposed to be a way of locking in customers. Of course they sooner or later realised a single, dependable provider would probably be the simplest way to go. But it was an era of internet growth and experimentation that won't be forgotten.