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Internet

Bowie: The man who fell to Net

OK, so you say you're a die-hard David Bowie fan. But would you trust him with providing your Internet access?

Do you consider yourself a real David Bowie fan? Will you let him provide your Net access?

The legendary rock musician, well-known for being an early adopter of technology and the Internet, is planning in August to offer an Internet access service, to be called BowieNet, according to his Web site, DavidBowie.com.

"It has been my wish to somehow integrate the power of the Internet and bring it down to a very personal level. With the creation of BowieNet, you can join me in an in an online, community-based environment for all music fans where together we can experience the Internet as never before," reads a posting on the DavidBowie.com site.

According to the site, the service will provide Internet access customized for music fans; a "davidbowie.com" email address (name@davidbowie.com); local dial-in numbers throughout North America; live technical support provided by Concentric Networks; "uncensored" Net access including email, newsgroups, and the Web; "exclusive Bowie content updated constantly"; "exclusive" music content, "featured links recommended by David"; an Internet browser customized for DavidBowie.com users; and daily content such as news, sports, weather, and financial information.

The plan appears to creatively up the ante in the portal war. Large Net gateway sites such as Yahoo and Excite seek to be the home page for as many users as possible. Most of the major players also have teamed up with ISPs such as MCI Communications and AT&T for access--but this seems to be the first instance of a special interest providing branded Net access, an email address, and all the services of a full portal site, as well as specialized content.

Analysts have noted that sites with original content--such as financial, sports, or news sites--could prove to be serious competitors in the Net gateway space, competing directly with the aggregators.

Although David Bowie enjoys an international following, it is unclear whether a Bowie-branded ISP would be successful. Still, the model could be adopted by others, potentially changing the face of the portal battle.

The BowieNet service will cost $19.95 per month, according to the site. Users also will have the option of staying with their current provider and simply getting a "premium subscription" to BowieNet content and events for $5.95 per month.

A Bowie spokeswoman said she had no further information about the ISP project. A Concentric spokesman was not immediately available for comment.