Study: All Internet service free by next christmas

This time next year, Internet service will be free of charge to consumers, according to one scenario developed by the market research firm Datamonitor.

"I admit the idea sounds a little bit out there," Rob Shavell, a Datamonitor analyst, said yesterday. "But the money will be made up in advertising and in e-commerce offerings."

Free Internet access is growing in popularity, with 3.5 million people signed up to firms such as Netzero and Juno Online Services since 1998, said Shavell, the author of a forthcoming report entitled "The Future of the Internet, 2nd Ed."

Low technology costs for Internet service providers (ISPs), improvements in online advertising technology and a flood of new Internet users will combine to encourage free Internet service, he said.

Internet service providers such as America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN will have to confront the prospect of offering services for free, Shavell said.

Prices charged consumers for Internet access are already coming down in some cases. For example, AOL and its subsidiary, CompuServe, offer a series of rebates for purchases of PCs if customers commit to using the Internet services of the companies. "Having customers committed over time is an advantage to us," said Anne Bentley, a CompuServe spokeswoman. "AOL is a broad company with a lot of efficiencies that brings the cost way down."

Bentley declined to comment on the prospect of offering access for free. However, one analyst said fee-based consumer access to the Internet is not likely to end in the near future.

"The subscription model has been proven in cable, cell phones, landline phones and for publications," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, California.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jack McCarthy

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?