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Share plans to charge for e-mail services from August 1

With effect from August 1, 2001, will become the first Indian portal to charge for its e-mail service, reflecting a trend that other players could follow in a market where advertising revenue is not supportive.

E-mail users would have to pay Rs 599 for six months or Rs 999 for a year. They will also get a customised ‘mypage’ and a new calendar service. Access to non-premium members would be discontinued by July 22.

Though other horizontal portals like and have refused to divulge their gameplan, dotcoms would have to look at business models where they can cut costs and make efforts at generating revenues to stay afloat. Having created a large user base, they can no longer afford to provide free e-mail service and pay for maintaining it. The aim will be to bundle e-mail with other services which would make consumers pay.

The US is seeing such a trend. Early this month, USA.Net announced that users would have to pay for e-mail from July 31. The model of paid subscriptions is what AOL has built up so profitably and which other net players are looking at actively. has made the first push in this direction in India. The company will provide their members with special services like gaming, on-line chess tournaments and one-to-one chats with experts. With pressure on ad revenue, paid e-mail is a superior way to keep the services reliable and innovative.

The portal plans to organise chats with special celebrities for its users. Besides, it will tie up with marketing firms for offline promotions and making special discount offers to its premium members.

The company is offering a special introductory pricing for all existing members who want to upgrade to the premium membership. They will get one month of extra access with the six-month package and two months of extra access with the 12-month package at no additional charge. The special offer will only be available till July 22, 2001.


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