The Mirror Group is to launch free Internet access for its readers, joining the growing legion of companies to offer a subscription-free service.
It will launch as an Internet service provider in March. The service will rival that of major Mirror Group advertiser Dixons, which launched Freeserve in September and now has over 1 million subscribers.
Dixons frequently advertises in Mirror Group titles and spends over 100m on advertising annually. However, Dixons states that the Web rivalry won’t affect its advertising with Mirror Group titles. “It will be business as usual,” says a Dixons’ spokeswoman.
Mirror Group would be able to promote the service through its national titles, which include The Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, as well as a raft of regional newspapers, including the Birmingham Post.
It is also likely to generate revenue through advertising and through a percentage of the funds generated from the cost of the call.
Mirror Group is also market testing a new Internet paper, dot.com, which is distributed free with the Wharf, a local paper circulating in London’s Canary Wharf.
News International is understood to be looking at a similar offer and would not deny that it was launching a free Internet service.