AOL Hikes 'BYO' Fee Price

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America Online customers with a broadband connection will be paying more to tap into the No. 1 Internet-service provider, starting in March.

The AOL Time Warner Inc. unit told customers last week that BYOA fees would be rising 50 percent, from $9.95 to $14.95, as of the March billing cycle. BYOA, which stands for "bring your own access," allows customers to tap into AOL services via an Internet connection that's not provided by the company.

Broadband customers who access the Internet with ISPs other than AOL, but still want AOL's services, are required to sign up for BYOA. To date, AOL has 1 million broadband and dial-up customers signed up for the BYOA plan.

To lessen the sting, AOL is offering all BYOA plan members two free hours of dialup roaming per month, with additional time at $2.95 per hour. This is the first price increase since the plan was created in 1996.

Cable-modem customers who choose AOL in the 20 Time Warner Cable markets where it is offered alongside Road Runner and Earthlink Inc. service will not see a price increase.

In other cable systems, cable-modem customers must pay their local cable company for high-speed service, with prices in the $40 to $50 range, plus $14.95 for AOL access.

The increase is part of a trend among broadband providers. An Associated Research Services report issued last week found that cable-modem customers are, on average, paying 12 percent more than they were at the beginning of 2001.