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i4Free Becomes i4aMonthySubscription? 8 January 2001 Edition
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It appears as if my advice last year that Net users make the best of the free-ISP lunch while they could is begining to have a ring of accuracy about it.

The noisiest of the free ISP operators, i4free has started a push to move many of its users from the free service to a flat-rate option being provided under the Slingshot.co.nz title.

i4Free blames "secret discussions" that took place between Clear and Telecom late last year for its plans to significantly reduce the amount of resource made available to users of its free service. As we all know, Telecom and Clear finally sat around a table and agreed to come to terms over the vexatious issue of Internet interconnect charges -- and this, it would appear, may have left i4free's business plan high and dry.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)

"BigBrother" is ISP Self Preservation Measure?... - Rob

Have Your Say

Sorry guys -- that's life -- you're dealing with big corporations for who the bottom-line is the primary directive. It was only natural that the arbitrage revenue would be nixed eventually and, as I said when the free-ISPs started popping up, you can't support such a service on advertising and ecommerce revenues alone.

Of course, those willing to shell out their $14.95 a month to sign up for the Slingshot service will (according to the sales-pitch) receive a "premium Internet service" for those who "never want to get a busy signal and want super fast transfer rates every time you dial-up."

Given that the dial-up ISP marketplace is already very competitive and that the likes of XTRA, IHUG and ClearNet already have finely tuned pricing models, I wonder how long Slingshot can provide a service of this alleged calibre at a 40 percent discount? I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they can pull it off.

Slingshot Plays Big-Brother
While browsing the Terms and Conditions associated with an account with the new Slingshot ISP service I found this little gem:

"slingshot.co.nz may monitor your use of the Services and any material posted, downloaded, transmitted or communicated using the Services for compliance with slingshot.co.nz's Terms. slingshot.co.nz may pass on any material or information it finds as a result to the relevant authority if slingshot.co.nz suspects any illegal or offensive activity is involved, and you will have no claim against slingshot.co.nz for this."

I guess it's up to you to decide whether you want to sign up with "big brother" in order to save $10 a month on your Internet access. While I'm sure many users will gladly give up rights that might otherwise require a court order to infringe, but I'd also wager that there are more than a few who will find this totally unacceptable.

How do YOU feel about this? Please submit your feedback marked either "for publication" or "not for publication" as desired.

It looks as if Napster users might want to give this service a wide berth, just in case they "accidentally" download a copyrighted piece of music through Slingshot and find the cops on their doorstep as a result.

Unlikely? Of course -- but, under the terms and conditions of Slingshot use the ISP would be quite within their rights to pass the information on to the copyright holders and we all know how wound-up the recording industry is about Net piracy right now.

Join ClearNet? -- Not This Way
Are you thinking of joining ClearNet now that i4free is winding down its free-access and Clear's own free ISP ZFree has closed off new user accounts?

Well anyone who tried to join over the weekend would have received this rather unfriendly response.

Hell -- I thought it would have been a great time to pick up new subscribers -- oh well, I guess not.

Aardvark Weekly, Have You Got Yours?
The first Aardvark Weekly of 2001 will go out tomorrow -- at which time I'll also be tidying up the subscription list.

If you haven't received YOUR copy by Wednesday am then please drop me a line and I'll make sure you're subscribed.

As always, your feedback is welcomed and...

Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

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