The free internet services provider market in the UK has started its second phase of evolution, with the announcement of three new free ISPs aimed at niche markets. Previously, ISPs such as Dixon’s Freeserve or Virgin Net were targeted at general consumer use. On Tuesday, ISPs were launched by pornography publisher Gold Star, games company Eidos Plc, and startup In Fin Net Ltd (Investors Financial Network). All three will use the Freeserve model — with ISPs taking a share of call charges via partnerships with telcos. Eidos, creator of the Tomb Raider series of games, has teamed up with telco Easynet Ltd to deliver multi-player gaming over the internet. In Fin Net’s web site hopes to deliver daily market news and financial expertise to at least 10,000 subscribers within 12 months. Publishers Gold Star group, responsible for various adult titles, will operate a site with the content they provide best. The three newcomers will show that a company does not have to be a household name with a multi-million pound marketing machine to launch a free ISP. Eidos and Gold Star will exploit their existing customer channels to reach new subscribers, giving free CDs away with their games and magazines. In Fin Net, an independent company with more modest expectations, will place CDs on the covers of the April editions of three UK investment magazines.
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