RealTime IT News

VoiceStream Wireless, AOL Ink Deal

As part of a comprehensive services, content and marketing agreement, America Online, Inc. will provide AOL's features and services to customers of VoiceStream's wireless Internet service. Under the multi-year agreement, AOL members, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users and VoiceStream Wireless customers will have access to the AIM service, across both wireless Internet capable devices (WAP), and for the first time, via two-way, interactive short messaging service (SMS).

VoiceStream will be North America's first GSM wireless service provider to carry the AIM service, and the first to offer it to all of its wireless subscribers. GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications and is one of the leading digital cellular systems and is the de facto standard in Europe and Asia.

VoiceStream customers will be able to communicate in real-time directly through VoiceStream's existing handsets and two-way short messaging service (SMS) and through high speed wireless Internet service.

In addition, the Dulles, Va.-based AOL will become a content and services provider for VoiceStream's wireless Internet service. The "AOL Mobile" service will have featured placement on VoiceStream's personal portal and communications area and will include news and content from AOL Time Warner properties like CNN, People, and Fortune magazines. VoiceStream will also deliver access to popular AOL features such as news, weather, and stock quotes as well as content from AOL's other brands including Digital City, MapQuest and MovieFone.

The agreement between VoiceStream and America Online is an extension of the AOL Anywhere strategy which makes its brands and features available to online consumers through a range of devices beyond the PC. The two companies will also work together on offline and online cross promotional opportunities.

VoiceStream Wireless owns licenses to provide national service to 93 percent of the country and is one of the fastest growing wireless service providers in North America. Through pending mergers and recent license purchases, VoiceStream, based in Bellevue will have a licensed footprint of over 272 million American consumers.

"America Online's services are a compelling benefit to American consumers. This agreement links the two big consumer services of the future -- wireless and the Internet -- into a service offering that is powerful but easy to use," says Bob Stapleton, president and chief operating officer of VoiceStream Wireless.

AOL Instant Messenger and AOL Mobile services will be available through VoiceStream's high speed, wireless Internet enabled devices across all VoiceStream markets by mid-year.

Roy Mark is an associate editor at dc.internet.com.