Altavista has said it will launch a free unmetered internet access service in the UK within the next three months.
The US internet portal company will offer free monthly internet access and free unmetered phone calls to customers after a initial sign-on fee.
Altavista, which claims the service will save UK internet users £700m a year, said it hopes to increase the number of people online and the number of internet-related jobs in the UK.
The service is expected to involve a sign-on fee of about £30 with further internet access to be provided free of charge. The service, which is still undergoing testing, is expected to be funded through advertising and ecommerce.
Altavista said its service, which is likely to be limited to some 500,000 users initially, will boost the UK economy and place it in a competitive position with the US. The company launched a dial-up service, called Free Access, in the US last year and now has about two million users.
Altavista's service is much cheaper than BT Internet's £9.99 a month unmetered evenings and weekend service. It also undercuts BT's Surftime internet access tariff, which it currently plans to offer for £34.99 a month for unmetered access at any time. Telewest rolled out an unmetered service last month for £10 a month.
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