Two of the free-shares-for-usage ISPs are stepping up their marketing activity this week., whose shares are traded on AIM, is encouraging its more than 120,000 users to sign up new users. The incentive is a pyramid-based commission scheme that, it claims, could be worth more than £100,000 in free shares to its most zealous members.

Emulating the scheme operated by pay-to-surf specialist, will allow its members to take a commission from indirect recruits.

The ISP, which is based on the idea of a community of volunteer experts, will also from this week be sending e-mail ads to its members. They will not receive “spam” – the e-mail equivalent of junk-mail – because members will only be targeted on an opt-in basis, claims managing director Simon Wajcenberg.

The company has signed up with OK Mail, an e-mail list broker founded by Lionel Thain, who used to run lifestyle survey company ICD.

Valued at about £20m, Themutual is relying solely on viral marketing and has no plans for any traditional marketing spend. “By growing at 30 per cent per month, we’ve proven that this model works. People tell their friends,” says Wajcenberg.

Meanwhile, Totalise, whose shares are listed on Ofex but should soon also be upgraded to AIM, has launched an unmetered Internet service. For an up-front fee of £235, it is offering 100,000 of its 130,000 users a two-year subscription.

Access will initially be limited to three hours per day, but this will become 24-hours a day by the beginning of next year. In keeping with Totalise’s strategy of giving away free shares in return for usage, subscribers will be given 1,250 free shares and a bonus of 140 shares in a year’s time if they hold on to the 1,250.