BBC's commercial arm, Beeb.com, has teamed up with Scottish Telecom to launch a free ISP.
Driven by the huge popularity of its BBC Online Web site, the broadcaster said it decided to launch a free ISP to strengthen direct relationships with users, as well as providing easy access to its entire online offering.
The home page of Freebeeb.net will not carry any advertising, as it will contain content from its public service site BBC Online, as well as Beeb.com. No public funds are being used to support Freebeeb.net. It will make money through advertising on the rest of the site and through offering links to transactional sites, such as Bol.com, Expedia and the BBC Shop.
Rupert Miles, director of Beeb.com, said the company is working on secret plans to distribute the disks through the high street, but the main distribution model will be through its BBC magazines where a freephone number will be advertised for readers to call to receive the disk.
Subscribers get an unlimited number of email accounts and up to 20Mbyte of Web space. Helpdesk calls are charged at 50p per minute.
Scottish Telecom, which owns Demon Internet, will provide the technology and infrastructure behind the site.
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