America Online is preparing to roll out a discount dial-up service under the Netscape brand name in an effort to attract the lower end of the internet access market.
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The basic service, which will offer users one e-mail address and a homepage featuring search functions powered by Google for $9.95 (£5.95) a month, is set to launch in early 2004. The service is a thin client which is easy to download and takes little memory, the source said.
The move comes as AOL faces dwindling subscriber numbers for its flagship US service. AOL said that it had 25.3 million members in the US, 1.2 million fewer than it did last year.
By offering a bare-bones service under the Netscape brand, AOL is hoping to gain more subscribers, which has faced stiff competition by lower-priced competitors.
AOL's standard dial-up service, priced at $23.90 (£14.30) month, has come under pricing pressures from rivals such as EarthLink, which is advertising dial-up service for $10.97 a month, and NetZero which provides a $9.95 monthly service.
Scarlett Pruitt writes for IDG News Service