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AOL Europe Aims For 10 Million Households In 2002

AOL Europe is aiming to reach 10 million European households in 2002, company president and CEO Andreas Schmidt told journalists at CeBIT.

In a wide-ranging talk, he outlined a whole series of policy and business initiatives that are intended to help Europe make some impact on the Internet industry.

Among the measures announced by AOL Europe is an initiative to connect all of Europe's parliamentarians to its online services.

"This is a cross-border medium," said Schmidt. "All politicians, regardless of country or party, should have the same opportunity to access, explore and use online services in the same way as their constituents."

Other Internet access providers may well query the implication that politicians do not currently have an opportunity to get online. Certainly, in the UK, the industry has bombarded MPs with information about the Internet--and there can be few excuses today for the unwired parliamentarian. However, the majority of MPs still show a reluctance to come to terms with new media--and it is this reluctance that AOL hopes to overcome.

New portal strategy
Schmidt went on to say that AOL Europe would pursue a multiple-brand strategy in which AOL and CompuServe would be supported by a unified infrastructure. A new portal strategy is being devised to drive additional advertising and e-commerce revenues.

In a further move, AOL will extend its unlimited-access pricing policy to key markets besides the UK. The company will seek a regulatory environment that will help the industry--consumers and providers alike--by opening up fair and free competition.

Mentioning some statistics, Schmidt said that AOL Europe employs 2000 European staff to provide local content and customer support services. The network carries 7 million e-mail messages in Europe daily--plus 55 million instant messages.

"We will continue to push for policies and a business environment that will allow Europe to realize its potential as a competitive, modern 'Net-centered' economy," said Schmidt.