United Online Enters Pop-Up Blocker Fray

Discount ISP United Online Tuesday launched enhanced versions of its “accelerated” dial-up services and joined the ranks of ISPs offering subscribers pop-up blockers.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based firm has tweaked both its NetZero HiSpeed and its Juno SpeedBand services. Both are priced at $14.95 a month and use compression technology to speed the delivery of Web pages to users. Such higher-speed dial-up products have become a staple of ISPs’ offerings as they try to please customers who want faster service but aren’t willing to pay for broadband.

The tweaks to the services, which were introduced in April, are aimed at making them easier to use and enhancing the quality of images subscribers view. In addition to a new user interface, the changes include a new speed indicator and a speed test tool, which allows users to gauge their Web surfing speeds. It also includes a pop-up filter, which “greatly reduces” the number of pop-up ads users must view, according to the company.

Among ISPs, EarthLink was the first to offer a pop-up blocker as a selling point to its subscribers. America Online, Yahoo SBC and MSN have followed suit. Microsoft will trump them all, however, when it adds pop-up blocking functions to its Internet Explorer browser in a service pack upgrade to debut next year.

These new versions of the services also include a free year of United Online’s MegaMail, a premium email service akin to that offered by other ISPs that gives users 25 MB of email storage and enhanced email management tools.

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