Johnston to introduce call-free ISP

Regional newspaper group Johnston Press is launching an Internet access service this week, which allows users to surf the Internet free of telephone charges during the weekends.

Regional newspaper group Johnston Press (www.johnstonpress.co.uk) is launching an Internet access service this week, which allows users to surf the Internet free of telephone charges during the weekends.

The group is rolling out its “Go-Free” service from its Milton Keynes Citizen Website (www.miltonkeynes.co.uk) this week, ahead of the launch of the free-call service in other regions covered by Johnston Press in the New Year.

The group, ranked as the UK’s fourth-largest regional newspaper group with 9 per cent of the market, currently operates 31 Websites based on its 183 regional newspaper titles, which include Portsmouth daily The News and Sunderland Echo. It launched a trial subscription free Internet access earlier this year.

Customers can join the scheme, hosted by network operator Norweb Telecom, by downloading the Johnston ISP from their local newspaper site, and supplying their postal address.

Customers will not have to switch from BT or other existing telecoms providers to secure free weekend Net access, and will be entitled to surf for free from 6pm on Friday to 12pm on Sunday.

The homepage setting for downloads of the Go-Free service will be automatically set to the most local Website operated by the group.

Johnston Press chief executive Tim Bowdler says: “It is widely acknowledged that telephone charges are a real barrier to mass consumer penetration of the Web.”

He adds: “The rationale for the ISP roll-out is to generate as much traffic as we can through our Websites, which will grow in number to 45 by the New Year.

“That way, we can deliver to our local market of advertisers online just as efficiently as we do through our newspapers.”

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