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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, April 18, 2024


V.I. Freenet, which has provided low-cost or no-cost Internet access to local users for the last four years, was shut down Friday, leaving many of their users without Internet access. Their lines were disconnected because they hadn't paid their phone bill.
The Freenet was developed in 1995 so that Virgin Islanders could access the Internet without having to use commercial service providers off-island and pay high long-distance bills in order to do so. There were no local Internet service providers at that time. It was the baby of Cobex owner Peter de Blanc with the help of St. Thomas Rotary Club II and Public Television.
On Friday, the V.I. Telephone Corp. disconnected the line for non-payment of a $2,654 bill, according to the Daily News. The bill is for five lines that are all accessed through one number, 774-8477. What Freenet offers for $25 a year is text-only access to the Internet and e-mail. But despite a fee of $25 a year, no users are cut off if they don't pay, according to Steve Pitzel, Freenet administrator.
Pitzel said users can still access their e-mail through commercial accounts, if they have them. To do that follow these instructions:
— Connect up as usual.
–Hit the start button at the bottom of the Windows screen.
— Click on run.
— When a box comes on the screen, type "telnet vip.vi."
The Freenet will come on with the usual login prompt asking for the account number and the password.
Those who don't have commercial accounts are without access.
Anyone who would like to help Freenet get back on-line for users who cannot afford commercial accounts can send a check to V.I. Freenet, Box 1042, St. Thomas, V.I. 00804.
Companies willing to help pay for a telephone line can call de Blanc at 776-4800.

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