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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK

Business: The Company File

Mirror mirrors free Internet offers

Will the Mirror crack the Internet market?

The Mirror Group has become the latest UK tabloid newspaper publisher to make headlines on the Internet.

The group claims to have secured more than £1m in advertising revenues and 50,000 customers for its new free Internet access service which was launched on Friday.

However, the Mirror Group faces stiff competition from its arch-rival The Sun, which has already launched its own free service.

[ image: The Express rushed out its own Internet offering]
The Express rushed out its own Internet offering
The Express also pipped the Mirror by offering its readers free Internet access earlier this week.

There are also signs that companies may soon have to offer much more than just free Internet access to attract customers.

Electrical retailer Tempo has launched a totally free Internet service - offering free phone off-peak phone calls, as well as free access.

The offer could force other companies, such as Dixons - which pioneered free Internet access through its Freeserve site - to respond.

The fall in charges is expected to fuel a boom in the number of people using the Internet in the UK.

Mirror's new service has been called and provides news from the company's main paper titles and online shopping.

Mirror has also teamed up with German media giant Bertelsmann to create an Internet books store.

The service also offers free e-mail accounts, and a helpline costing 50p a minute.

John Allwood, chief executive of Mirror Group said he believed that the 2 million existing Mirror readers would give it a competitive edge with a service providing "enormous opportunities".

Shares in Mirror Group edged up 3p to 223p in early trading.

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