Freei.Net, America’s eighth-largest Internet Service Provider (ISP), announced today that it is now available in 1200 cities and all 50 states.
Launched last fall, Freei.Net was previously available in select major U.S. cities and only 20 states. The move to national service delivery was made possible by a $10 million (US$) investment by Sequoia Capital, a leading investor in Internet companies.
Looks To Gain More Users
In order to reach new customers, Freei.Net plans to advertise online using burst, technosurf and doubleclick. “We’re also using billboards, mobile billboards and a little radio sprinkled across the nation,” Freei.Net public relations director Bridget Murtagh told the E-Commerce Times.
“We’re hoping to gain additional market share from existing Internet users with this expansion — 20 percent of our current subscribers come from AOL, according to our user survey — as well as new Internet users,” said Murtagh.
During the past year, Freei.Net has signed up more than 500,000 users. “Free access is an idea whose time has come,” said Bob McCausland, president and CEO for Freei.Net.
Freei.Net offers its users Web access, e-mail services, keyword search, e-commerce, chats, instant messaging, technical support and content that includes news, weather and sports. The company intends to compete directly with the major ISPs by offering the full range of ISP services.
Using a Radio and Television Model
Freei.Net is based upon the business model of broadcast radio and television, where advertisers carry the financial burden of delivery in order to reach large numbers of potential customers. Like radio and TV, Freei.Net offers both local and national advertising. Advertisers can place banner ads and select placement by user interests.
Even though Freei.Net derives its revenue through advertising, the company claims it has less ad clutter than the major ISPs. “Freei.Net subscribers will be pleased to find out that we are far less commercial than the largest providers in the country; so it really is a win-win for all parties involved,” said McCausland.
In addition to free access, Freei.Net also offers its subscribers anonymity. Since the company does not collect monthly fees, there are no records kept of users’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
The free Internet model has been hugely successful throughout Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, where a majority of Internet users receive access through free providers.
In the U.S., the model has been less successful. Industry experts believe that American consumers are put off by the advertising volume that is necessary to make free Internet service possible.