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|Saturday, September 23, 2000, updated at 10:26(GMT+8)|
No More Free Email, China's ISPs Struggle to Make Ends MeetAbout a month ago, Beijing-headquartered Capital Online or 263.net decided to levy on some email accounts which the internet service provider (ISP) has been offering its clients free of charge.
Other Chinese ISPs followed suit, squeezing their free email accounts in the hope that the money garnered could offset their lofty expenses to a certain extent.
Now, there are altogether 65.1 million email accounts in China, of which 9 million are paid, accounting for 14 per cent. Most ISPs are trying out charged emails to test the water.
A recent survey by the Capital Online shows that more than 31 per cent of internet users said they would accept paid emails provided it can provide better services.
Paid email service emerged in China, as more and more customers are getting increasingly unsatisfied with freemail services. It is common complaints among freemail users that they often receive junk mails, while lose useful information.
On the other hand, Chinese ISPs are finding themselves in financial and technical difficulty in providing freemail service to the users who are growing fast. It is estimated that an ISP has to pay 10 million yuan (US$1.20 million) for every 1 million freemail users every year.
Whether paid email service proves to be successful to the ISPs depends on two factors: the service they provide, and users' lingering fondness of free mail.
According to Gu Xin, sales manager of Capital Online, 263.net's charged email users have reached 100,000.
However, since freemail has been applied for years, more than half of the users are reluctant to pay the moderate amount of money -- about 15 yuan (US$1.81) per month for the service.
And, although ISPs have promised that paid users can get better services, some still question the technological advances of the ISPs, because paid users also complain loss of mails.
Experts said the emergence of paid email service can to some extent indicate China's ISPs begin to seek ways to make money, as they find it is hard to get more venture capital to keep business afloat. (Chinadaily.com.cn)
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