New Zealand's first "free" Internet service provider (ISP) has been set up in Auckland — although it only offers 20 hours free each month and is targeted at the online investor.
"If they invest in any of our funds then they qualify for free Internet access," says the director of Electronic Publishing (EP), John Commins.
EP owns the FreeFunds Internet service, Global Register Internet site and The Source Financial Services.
Customers who have investments, mortgages, savings or insurance through EP's companies will qualify for 20 hours free access each month.
"Some of our savings accounts start from as low as $100 a month and they qualify," says Commins.
Free Internet access is widespread in Europe and the US and is also taking hold in Australia and South Africa. Revenue is gathered either by pumping tremendous amounts of advertising at the user or by charging for calls to the ISP.
Free connections are also available with the purchase of certain PCs.
In New Zealand local calls are free, so free Internet connection has been slower to take off.
Commins hopes to change that. "We've had to delay the launch because of problems with Telecom and its numbering scheme  but we're expecting big things from the service."
The Web site can be found at: www.freefunds.co.nz.