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AltaVista to End Free Internet Access Service

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Internet search engine


is terminating a service offering consumers free Internet access because


, its affiliate company that had provided the service, is going out of business.

According to published reports, AltaVista has told its 3 million free Internet subscribers that the service will be terminated on Dec. 10, and has made arrangements for them to transfer to


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MSN Internet service, which will offer a free connection for three months. After that, they would pay $21.95 a month.

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1stUp and AltaVista are divisions of



, Andover, Mass., which announced last month it would close 1stUp by Jan. 31, along with some of its other holdings.

Today's news hit AltaVista's competitor

Juno Online


, whose shares lately tumbled 12.9%, or 25 cents, to $1.69 on the


. Shares of CMGI were also down 4.6%, or 56 cents, to $11.75.