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Free Internet Services Attract Users; Instant Chats Create Buddy Battle

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RALEIGH — There is a way to get Internet access without breaking your budget, and for those of you who send instant messages to your cyber friends and co-workers, there is a "buddy battle" brewing among the providers. Free Internet Access

If you want to go online, but do not want to pay a service provider, now you can.NetZerooffers free Internet access with a national dial-up service.

Subscribers end up "paying" by having to look at banner ads. Users can reduce the image of their browser on the screen, and place the ad so it does not interfere with browsing, but it may be worth $20 a month to not have the ads there.

Other companies such as "Y-Pay" are also coming online to offer free access, but with a button you push to watch an ad or connect to an advertiser's site.

Remember, there is no free ride, you are going to pay for the services one way or another. Instant Messengers

AOL's Instant Messengerhas been around for some time and is a big hit. You can sign up free and send messages to your friends that pop up on their screens instantly.

Now Microsoft, through its Hotmail subsidiary, offersMSN Messenger. It does the same thing that AOL's service does, and AOL does not like it.

AOL has changed its servers so the two messenger services will not "talk" to each other. AOL claims Microsoft is violating security by gaining access to its "buddy" lists, including screen names and passwords.

Therefore, if you want to send messages to AOL buddies on MSN, you must put in your AOL screen name and password. It is probably best to stick to just one instant messaging service.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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