BLUELIGHT NIXES FREE ‘NET ACCESS
Byline: Peter Braunstein
NEW YORK — In an ongoing effort to synchronize its ISP package with its bottom line, Kmart’s Bluelight.com announced Monday it is discontinuing its free Internet service in favor of a pay service.
Beginning Aug. 29, BlueLight Basic, which has been providing users 12 hours of free Web access a month, will be replaced by BlueLight Unlimited, which will bring unlimited usage for $8.95 monthly. Those who sign up prior to Sept. 1 will get the first three months at a monthly rate of $6.95. By comparison, America Online, the country’s largest Internet service provider, charges more than $20 a month. Ending free service builds on a step taken in March, when BlueLight phased out its unlimited free service in favor of a two-tiered system of unlimited pay service or limited free service.
According to a BlueLight spokesman, the changes in ISP offerings correlate with the shift from an ad-based model to a pay-subscription model. “Free service was enabled by ad revenue, and when that began drying up in September of last year, we instituted a free service with limited hours,” he said. The new pay system also keeps BlueLight competitive with leading rival Walmart.com, which said in June it is rolling out unlimited ‘Net service this fall with AOL for less than $10 a month.