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Another firm does free email

A new free email service called NetAddress launches, another sign of the growing popularity of these services.

A new free email service called NetAddress officially launched today, another sign of the growing popularity of these services.

Its motto: Just as you shouldn't have to pay to watch television or listen to the radio, you shouldn't have to pay to send and receive email.

There may be some distractions, however. Like other free email services, such as Juno, and Hotmail, NetAddress is supported by advertising, which means that you get ads with your email.

NetAddress touts its service as user-friendly. "You don't need to download and install email software. NetAddress will work with whatever Web browser a subscriber is using," said John Street, president of USA.NET, which is offering the service.

NetAddress's additional features include automatic sorting of email and the ability to collect email from different locations so that subscribers don't have to log on to more than one mail server.

Many analysts consider email the so-called "killer application" of the Internet. An estimated 60 million people use email, and the number may swell to as many as 200 million by the year 2000.

USA.NET originally launched a subscriber-based email service, according to a spokesman. But it changed the strategy earlier this year and switched to an advertising-based model after witnessing the success of other companies.

Analysts caution that the field is getting crowded, however, and is due for a shakeout. FreeMark, another service which tried to make a go of advertiser-sponsored "free" email," closed its operation effective today, saying it was "unable to raise a sufficient amount of equity capital." The current and new services are likely to find new ad sponsors a challenge. Companies that currently advertise on free email sites include the Wall Street Journal, Lands' End, Marriott, General Motors, Honda, and Netscape Communications.