U.S-based ISP (Internet service provider) Freei.Net this month will begin offering free Internet and e-mail services in five Southeast Asian countries -- Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, the company announced late last week.
Freei.Net's full range of services includes Internet access, e-mail, news, chat, instant messaging, 20M bytes of online disk storage for Web hosting, and e-commerce options, the company said in a statement.
The Southeast Asian operations will be based in Malaysia, and the company will be announcing its first Asian telecommunications partner early in January, Freei.Net said. The free Internet service is expected to go live in January as well.
Subscribers can download the software from Freei.Net's Web service and begin surfing the Web immediately in areas where Freei.Net has established coverage, the company said.
Freei.Net's intention is to make the Internet accessible to anyone in Southeast Asia regardless of their income level, as Internet access is a key to accelerated economic growth in the region, the company said in the statement.
Free Internet access is a novelty in South-East Asia, where access rates have remained relatively high due to continued market regulation. In December, StarHub Internet Pte. Ltd. of Singapore started a free access service, which attracted 100,000 subscribers in its first nine days of operation.
Freei.Net, which began operations just over a year ago in the U.S., is now the sixth-largest ISP there, with more than 1.5 million subscribers, the company said.
Freei.Net, based in Seattle, Washington, can be found online at http://freei.net/.