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AOL Canada Launches High-Speed Service

[Sturgeon Falls, CANADA] America Online Canada launched its new high-speed AOL Plus service over cable television lines Wednesday.

The venue for the launch was a small Ontario town far from any major market, but it constitutes another step in opening up cable networks to competitive ISPs.

The trial service was launched in Sturgeon Falls, a community of a little more than 5,000 people some 50 miles east of Sudbury, Ontario.

AOL Canada first announced in September 1999 their plan to introduce high speed broadband access over cable, with Sturgeon Falls targeted as the first market.

Unlike regulators in the U.S., the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, has decreed that cable operators must make their networks available to competitive ISPs.

But there has been almost no movement there by the country's big players, most of whom have launched their own service or partnered with cable ISP Exite@Home, and then complaining that technical issues make it difficult to allow other ISPs on board.

AOL put a name to its high-speed service last month when it announced "Plus", designed to be delivered via digital subscriber line (DSL) and satellite links in addition to cable.

In the U.S., AOL has been a champion of forcing cable companies to allow other ISPs to access their lines, in the same way as the telecoms have had to share their networks with competitors.