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Web users buy time with SurfBanana

Pay-as-you-go card offers simpler online access

Internet service provider Net in a Nutshell and telco First National have teamed up to offer UK web users the first prepaid internet card, SurfBanana.

The card will allow surfers unlimited internet access for a set fee over a fixed period. Current prices are £5 for 14 days and £10 for 30 days.

According to research conducted by Net in a Nutshell, 62 percent of people interviewed thought Net cards were a good idea, with a third of those saying they were likely to purchase one.

"We listened to what consumers have been telling us and have tailored the SurfBanana offer to suit their needs," said Scott Ide, CEO of Nutshell. "The cards are incredibly simple to use, easy to buy and very competitively priced."

But pay-as-you-go systems have been branded outdated by some ISPs, such as Freeserve, which has seen a serious downturn in the number of subscribers to its service.

AOL UK announced earlier this month it would close its pay-as-you-go Netscape service because its customers preferred flat-fee packages. But the company did recognise that some alternative scheme was needed for those people who did not use the internet enough to benefit from fixed-rate schemes.

"We will be looking at a range of light-usage packages, such as buying a certain amount of hours," said Matt Peacock, chief communications officer at AOL. So it probably won't be long before other ISPs start offering their own cards.

SurfBanana is activated by logging on to Surfbanana.net and following the instructions on the back of the card.

But users who already have internet access will have to pay as usual for their connection while they are activating the card; users who don't can simply call the SurfBanana freephone number to have an account set up for them.

SurfBanana cards will be available in high street stores from the end of September.


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