Earthlink's PeoplePC unit is planning to use a value message to drive new business for its dial-up Internet service.
The Atlanta-based Internet service provider is expected to reduce prices on its value plan to $7.95 a month for new customers. The plan, which works out to about 25 cents a day, is priced at about $2 a month less than rival's current promotional prices, and will include free customer support, more than 12,000 dial-up numbers nationwide, and spam and virus protection.
Kevin Brand, Earthlink's senior vice-president of product management, said the package is the right offering in this economy.
"These are difficult times," Brand said. "People are re-evaluating and looking at their credit card bills to find ways they can cut corners and use their paycheck to the fullest."
The service may be particularly useful for those who have lost their job, according to Brand. He noted that not only does the Internet help with searching and applying for specific job opportunities, but email is helpful for networking.
"If you lose your job, that's a time when the Internet is crucial," he said.
Some consumers considering dial-up service may be among the recently unemployed. Those people may have used Internet access at work, but did not have service at home.
Or they may be using a rival dial-up service. Although more than half of all Internet users have broadband service, there is still a core group of people who are satisfied with dial-up Internet access.
According to a Pew Research study, 35 percent of dial-up users still think broadband access is too expensive, but 19 percent said that nothing would get them to switch from their dial-up service. Another 16 percent said they didn't know what it would take to get them to switch to higher-speed broadband access.
Although price isn't the only factor consumers consider when choosing an Internet service provider, it is a consideration for dial-up users, who tend to be a price conscious group, said Sally Cohen, an analyst at Forrester Research.
"Right now, I would argue the price is important for everybody," Cohen said.
Brand wouldn't disclose how many new customers Earthlink hopes to snag with this offer, which is offered only for limited time.
The new pricing puts Earthlink below average dial-up prices by about 20 percent, according to Cohen.
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