ISP Wars Get Fierce

Gretchen Gallen
SILICON VALLEY – Competition to retain users has never been more intense among Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as the Internet's superpowers struggle to retain user loyalty, in addition to increasing their subscriber base by luring over users from other competitors.

ComScore Networks issued statistics this week that one in four Internet surfers intends to switch Internet service providers in the next six months, intensifying the race among America Online, EarthLink, and NetZero, to name a few, to stay at the head of the dial-up versus high-speed wars.

Russ Fradin, executive vice president of development for ComScore, says that the competition among ISPs has hit a high note recently because of the market split between dial-up service and broadband.

In many cases, ISPs are attempting to blur the lines between high-speed access and higher value dial-up service that promise faster download speed.

According to ComScore, the reason many users choose to switch service is for a faster connection, which 30 percent of the survey's respondents said was their reason for changing ISPS. The second most popular reason was that they wanted cheaper service. ComScore reports that 36 percent of online users access the Internet through a high-speed connection.

NetZero and its subsidiaries Juno and BlueLight brand have gone full tilt in their marketing strategy to convince Internet users that their basic Internet access is not only cost effective, but a premium service that can compete on the same grounds as many high-speed providers. And AOL is taking a similar approach in its promotion of its Top Speed Technology dial-up service.

"There of course will be winners and losers as the markets continue to shift away from premium dial-up and to discount dial-up or more expensive broadband providers," said Fradin of ComScore.