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Excite localizes free email in U.K.

Aiming to grab more local advertising overseas, the portal firm offers a United Kingdom version of its free email service.

Leveraging the tremendous popularity of free Web-based email in the United States, Excite has introduced the service for users in the United Kingdom to further beef up its localized offerings overseas.

European users already have access to free email through United States-based services such as Hotmail, as well as within global portals including Yahoo, Lycos, and Excite. But Excite is pushing its U.K. email service--which it plans to extend to France and Germany--in an effort to draw more local advertising.

Users' email addresses with the U.K. service will be "name@excite.co.uk," instead of "name@excite.com."

Free email has become synonymous with portals, which use the perk to attract loyal users. Email is also a means for heightening brand distribution and awareness, because the sender's email address contains the company's name.

"It's as key for a portal to offer [free email in Europe] as it is in the U.S., for the same reasons," said Phil Dwyer, managing director for research firm Jupiter Communications' European Internet Strategies group. "It's really useful?There's no ISP that has really an international presence in Europe."

Prior to today's announcement, Excite unveiled ExcitePost in the United Kingdom, where the portal introduced free email for British students and educators. The project was endorsed by NetYear, a charity supported by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Today's move further signifies Excite's determination to beef up its regionally specific sites as the European market begins to warm up to the Net. A number of studies have predicted European Net use will blossom within the next few years. Europeans will begin demanding efficient Internet access, with Germany expected to lead other countries in conducting transactions over the Web.

"This effort supports our European and international growth," said an Excite spokesperson.