COMPANY PRESS RELEASE: Freeserve has announced that it has strengthened its position as the UK’s market leading ISP-Portal with renewed momentum in subscriber growth. As at December 31 2001, like-for-like active registered accounts increased by 13 per cent on the end of year total for 2000 to 2.331 million on a 40-day basis.
Freeserve gained over a quarter-of-a-million net active 40-day accounts in the 12-week quarter, meaning that on average more than 3,000 people a day joined Freeserve.
With 2.244 million 30-day Freeserve accounts reported for the end of 2001, Freeserve completed the year with almost 50 per cent more subscribers than the 1.5 million UK members claimed by AOL Time Warner Inc.
The Freeserve unmetered subscriber base continued to grow during the fourth quarter, with almost one third of all customers taking a Freeserve paid package.
The customer gains for the full year are almost entirely attributable to the fourth quarter and renewed Freeserve marketing activity during the 12-week period, which included successful television, radio and press advertising campaigns, direct marketing and new consumer offers in Dixons Group stores.
Weekly accounts created during the 12 weeks even outstripped the gains made in the first full quarter after Freeserve exploded onto the UK Internet scene in September 1998.
John Pluthero, Chief Executive Officer of Freeserve, commented:
Doubling the Freeserve network capacity in the first half of 2001 created a solid platform on which to go out after the summer and win new customers once again.
Our new network, £12.99 a month AnyTime offer and marketing success have caught the competition with their trousers around their ankles, and we have entered our post-Christmas peak period in the same way we ended 2001 by beating our own records for subscriber acquisition.
In a separate development, Freeserve has filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over AOL Time Warner Inc’s claim in financial press release dated January 6 2002 that in the UK, AOL is the leading ISP with more than 1.5 million members.Freeserve believes the statement, made in the context of AOL Time Warner’s preliminary results for 2001, to be misleading to investors to a material degree and without significant verification presents a distorted picture of AOL’s position in the UK.
Freeserve has brought its complaint before the SEC so that the misrepresentation can be rectified without further risk to investors.
John Pluthero said:
Given that AOL has been sanctioned by the ASA about misleading claims made in their advertising and even by the SEC before for improper accounting practices, perhaps it should come as no surprise that they are once again found peddling wild and extravagant claims.