Internet On Line (IOL), Cesky Telecom’s Internet service provider, yesterday began offering free Internet access and an Internet portal. A portal has been long missing in IOL’s portfolio of services, and its www.quick.cz is now being launched on a fairly contested Czech portal market. Nonetheless, IOL’s ambition is for quick.cz to become the country’s No.1 or No.2 portal within a year. The launch of IOL’s free-access service was expected and inevitable, given general Internet trends, the success of Czech free-access providers in expanding their subscriber base, and given the weak growth of fee-paying subscribers reported in Cesky Telecom’s six-month figures some time ago. Also, IOL’s CEO Vit Subert reiterated Cesky Telecom’s intention to sell IOL’s shares to the public at some point, but made it clear again that the final decision and timing will only be determined after privatization. This, in our view, means that an IPO of IOL (or its successor) is thinkable in 2002 at the earliest.