Following the success of free ISPs such as FreeServe, AOL launches a free service in the UK today.

The new service is to be branded Netscape Online, presumably to maintain revenues from existing AOL customers. However, Netscape Online - a joint venture with German publisher Bertelsmann - will charge no monthly fees. This is only possible in the UK market, where ISPs receive a share of the phone charges incurred during a user's connect time.

AOL expect the service to do well by strength of their existing brand - market leaders such as FreeServe and currantbun.com have traded on the strong UK brands of electrical retailer Dixons, and The Sun newspaper respectively. Netscape Online is also expected to be differentiated from AOL's family and Compuserve's small business markets by targetting the new lad segment. Given the diversification of the Net from its original young male audience, the success of this stereotypical strategy remains to be seen.

More info at the BBC.