Dell offers free Net access in Europe
Dell Computer Corp. yesterday said it will offer free Internet access across
Dell has already launched its new service, which it calls
href="http://www.DellNet.co.uk/" target=NEW>DellNet, in the U.K., and will launch
the service in the next month in France and Germany. The U.S.-based computer
manufacturer also plans to offer DellNet in other European countries, according to a
"Free" Internet access has become an increasingly popular way to draw new users
online in the U.K., and other countries such as Denmark and France have begun to
follow. Dell is the first major computer manufacturer to get into the act, however.
Users pay no monthly charge for access, but still need to pay for local metered phone
charges while online.
Net usage rates have increased in the U.K. with the numerous free Internet offers,
but metered charges for local phone usage still keep many Europeans from going online
or staying online for a long time. For example, the average user of the Internet
service provider American Online Inc. in the U.S. stays on line for 55 minutes per day,
compared with only 17 minutes per day in Europe, AOL Europe head Andreas Schmidt said
last week. Schmidt said that metered phone calls remain the No. 1 barrier to making the
Internet a mass medium in Europe.
Internet users in Europe are not taking these charges sitting down, however. On
Sunday, Internet associations in 13 European countries called for a boycott of all
telecommunications activities, in an attempt to encourage what they say are fairer
charges for Internet access.
To offer the service, Dell has partnered with British Telecommunications PLC (BT)
and Excite. BT is providing the access software and its network, while Excite is
contributing both its search engine and content from its portals.