From the October 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Ad-Free . . . for a Fee:

Afraid customers are sick and tired of those flashing ads plastered across your Web site? Then get rid of them.Many companies today are experimenting with the concept of offering ad-free pages with premium services for a fee. Earlier this year, online magazine Salon.com launched its $30-per-year Salon Premium service, which gives members exclusive dispatches on politics, extra columns and audio downloads of short stories. Premium subscribers also have the option of "turning off" banner and pop-up ads on most Salon pages, ensuring fewer interruptions and faster downloads.

Also jumping on the trend is Quia.com, a Burlingame, California, Web site that allows educators to design their own classroom games online and integrate those tools into their curriculum. Currently, the site offers a free section with ads. But there is also a section on the site that costs an educator with a class of 30 students $59 per student; it offers ad-free content and custom-tailored educational quizzes and games.

"We heard from our users that this is something they would be interested in, so we decided to do it, and it's been successful," says Paul Mishkin, Quia's 29-year-old founder. "I think the general public is accepting it more, and understands that if they are getting something valuable, they should pay for it."

Analysts believe giving customers ad-free content will become even more prevalent in the future. Says Gartner Inc.'s Denise Garcia, "My prediction is that as [more obtrusive ads] are placed on Web sites, people will be more open to paying for content that is ad-free."

Sans Spectrum

Ouch. The United States is already feeling pangs from a lack of wireless spectrum space and overcrowding of users on the airwaves. The biggest casualty could be the timely introduction of much-touted 3G services, like high-speed Web access over mobile phones. We may be far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to the wireless Net, but most wireless companies insist it will only get worse unless the government makes more spectrum available.


347 thousand:
number of high-tech jobs in Chicago, higher than any other U.S. metropolitan area.
SOURCE: University of Minnesota

The most recent PCS (Personal Communications Services) spectrum auction in January brought in nearly $17 billion for the government coffers. Those precious licenses for chunks of airwaves periodically go up for sale to companies that provide wireless communications services. The auction was supposed to leave room for small providers, but the licenses ended up going to major players like Verizon and its partners.

You probably aren't losing sleep over spectrum distribution, but the outcome could affect how well your mobile phones work and what wireless services are available for years to come. Short-term, the spectrum shortage could mean even poorer service than you're used to. And questions continue to hang in the airwaves: Will the Defense Department share its spectrum? Will more efficient ways of using spectrum be developed? Will 3G suffer? Visit WirelessNewsFactor.com or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for the latest.

Don't Be a Sucker

You deleted SULFNBK.EXE from your hard drive. You were appalled to hear that Congress was going to start taxing e-mail messages. You tried out the $250 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe. If you recall doing any of those things, then it's time to put an end to the madness. Virus hoaxes and e-mail hoodwinks aren't just annoyances-they can sap productivity and even damage your computer.

Stay safe with updated virus software and a healthy sense of suspicion. Always investigate before you act. To verify the authenticity of virus warnings, visit VirusList.com, Vmyths.com or Symantec's SARC.com. For other questionable e-mails, try archive sites Snopes.com or UrbanLegends.com.

Hoaxes extend their lives by being forwarded, so share your concerns and discoveries with employees to help stop the cycle. And finally, be alert to the possibility of a real virus masquerading as or piggybacking on a hoax. Visit the Computer Incident Advisory Center Hoax Busters for more information.