Free is certainly the word of the moment and last week it was Internet service provider Free Net who joined the cast of millions claiming to be giving away something for nothing.
Of course, there is always a catch and for Free Net users it's being bombarded with advertisements. That aside, the company claims there are no hidden charges; no time or download limits and no need to buy a PC or any equipment or service.
From November 1 the service will be made available to 50,000 people in Sydney and Melbourne, with the initial users being chosen from a random draw of those who express interest in the service. Access to all other capital cities and regional centres will be made available by March next year.
The advertising technology that is driving revenue for the site has been dubbed iServe. According to Free Net CEO Abbas Aly, the iServer application allows online advertisers to send advertisements to a Free Net user's desktop independent of Web browser or e-mail programs.
"iServe provides a powerful targeting and reporting framework that is a truly innovative medium for advertisers," Aly said.
"The advertising model is much closer to that of television and does not rely on clicks, impressions, hits and page views. iServer allows advertisers to buy viewing time, rather than the current industry practice - that of buying impressions - and through our Internet service we can deliver potential advertisers the pinpoint demographics they seek and measure exactly who is responding to advertising."
In exchange for access to the Free Net Internet service, users will register non-intrusive demographic information including such details as residential postcode, sex, marital status and income range.