AOL Lights Broadband ISP Service

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America Online Inc. is putting itself front-and-center in broadband, announcing plans to go nationwide with its own high-speed service in partnership with network providers including sibling Time Warner Cable, telcos BellSouth Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. and other major digital-subscriber-line providers.

Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. Up until now, AOL has offered its content services to existing customers as an add-on piggybacking the broadband-network provider’s service. Under the new arrangement, the service will be offered with AOL as the resident Internet-service provider, and the idea is to make it easier for dial-up AOL customers to make the high-speed leap.

"We've seen in recent market tests that our members respond very strongly to the ability to more simply combine what they have from AOL with what they want from a broadband connection, and now, we're going to deliver it from coast to coast,” said Joe Redling, president of AOL’s access business.

The first service offered under these pacts will begin Monday in BellSouth territory, where the ISP will offer its “AOL High Speed Service” for $29.90 monthly. As part of the service, AOL will provide round-the-clock customer service, Internet-security and firewall tools, its raft of exclusive content and unlimited e-mail and picture storage.

AOL will also go on a nationwide marketing blitz to boost the new service packages in the coming weeks, with spots planned for national TV, radio and print publications.

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