A move to challenge America Online's growing dominance of the US Internet access market has won the support of the country's three largest long distance telecomms carriers - AT&T, MCI and Sprint. The companies pledged support for a new service called Snap! Online, developed by Internet content company CNet. It will provide a search engine, entertainment and news services.
When users log into online services provided by the telcos or other CNet partners, they will be directed immediately to the Snap! Online home page. Research shows 80 per cent of subscribers never change the default setting, said CNet.
Snap! Online's partners, which also include regional carriers Bell South and Bell Atlantic, and some Internet service providers, have a combined online user base of 3.5 million, well behind America Online, which boasts 12 million since it acquired the content business of former arch-rival Compuserve.
Halsey Minor, chief executive of CNet, said content is the key to Internet service providers providing effective challenges to AOL.
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