BlueLight.com LLC, Kmart Corp.'s online store and the nation's No. 2 free Internet service provider, will stop offering free online access starting Aug. 29, it announced yesterday.
The move is meant to trim expenses at BlueLight.com, San Francisco, which has 7 million subscribers.
Consumers currently can receive 12 hours of free access per month, down from 25 hours earlier this year. BlueLight.com now will offer unlimited access for $8.95 a month. This new offering replaces the BlueLight.com Premium Service, which offered 100 hours of online access per month for $9.95.
As an incentive to sign up, BlueLight.com shoppers can earn free months of Internet service by buying non-clearance products on the site.
Furthermore, consumers who sign up by Sept. 1 will make three monthly payments of $6.95 and then $8.95 each month after that.
This decision follows the June announcement of a merger between NetZero Inc. and Juno Online Services Inc., both leading Internet service providers. With more than 7 million subscribers, NetZero offers 40 hours per month of free online access.
The BlueLight.com ISP announcement also follows last week's decision by Kmart, Troy, MI, to gain complete control of its online store. Kmart owns 60 percent of BlueLight.com, Japan's Softbank Venture Capital owns 27 percent and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. owns 13 percent.