Net2Roam today announced the launch of its pay-as-you-go global web service, which will allow users to access their internet accounts from anywhere in the world at local rates.

The service has been set up by two friends who were frustrated at being ripped off by exorbitant international phone charges for accessing their email accounts when abroad.

"At the moment there is a lot of confusion about dialling the internet from overseas, which means that people are paying unreasonably high costs just to access email," said Jamie True, co-founder and director of Net2Roam.

But most large ISPs, such as AOL, already have agreements in place with local service providers and telcos, meaning that customers are only charged at local rate anyway.

According to Net2Roam, its service is aimed at people that already have an established email account with a smaller company and don’t want the hassle of changing their ISP and account name.

"Another difference is that AOL doesn't give you a free dialler — you have to go through a setup process before you can leave each country and it takes 60 days to set up. It's therefore no good for impulse or last-minute travel. Net2Roam takes just three minutes to set up," said Jane Forwood, company spokesman.

Each package is valid over a certain period of time. The Bronze package, for example, costs £15 for two months and provides 50 credits (roughly 50 minutes of call time from the US). Credit cannot be carried over and must be used within the specified period.