Millions Of Free E-Mailers May Soon Have To Pay Up

Yet another of the few things in life that are free, may not be free much longer. Several large companies that have been providing free email services are starting to rethink that.

One of the big names in the business is Hotmail. It has 110 million accounts, and Luc Belanger is one of those 110 million. He's a Sea Wolves player, who has been going to a cyber-cafe in Biloxi to check his email on Hotmail.

"Today, I got nine new emails," Luc told us. "It's a lot of junk, of course, but I got five or six from friends in Canada."

Although Luc has been logging on at no cost, that may change soon for Luc and millions of others. As far as Luc is concerned, that's okay.

"If prices are fair, not too expensive, I guess its a good thing," the Canada native said.

A lot of people don't agree. In a recent survey, only 31 percent of web surfers said they will pay. It may take a few years to catch on, but clearly the trend is toward fee based email.

Daniel Taylor works for a cyber-cafe in Biloxi, and he understands why the companies want to start charging.

"If I had a company whose stock had fallen 40 or 50 percent, I would start looking for new avenues to make revenue also," Taylor said.

Free email has become a victim of its own success, and the cost associated with processing all that email, is enormous. As one Microsoft executive put it, "We're a business and have to figure out how to make ends meet."