RealTime IT News

AOL, Bell Atlantic Set High-Speed Partnership

America Online Inc. subscribers in the Northeast will soon be able to access the service at much higher speeds, thanks to a partnership the online service announced Wednesday with Bell Atlantic Corp.

AOL said it will begin offering Digital Subscriber Line access to Bell Atlantic's DSL customers as the technology becomes available in the telco's major markets. America Online said DSL access will cost less than $20 more than its analog rates.

Bell Atlantic has pledged to make ADSL available to 7.5 million homes in its territory by the end of 1999 and to more than 14 million by the end of the year 2000.

In addition to accessing AOL at faster speeds, AOL members who choose the DSL option will be offered broadband-enhanced multimedia and other services.

The partnership is a big coup for AOL, which has been working feverishly with cable and telephone companies to give its subscribers in areas served by broadband access a way to connect to AOL at faster speeds as well.

The companies plan to jointly market the service to AOL members and Bell Atlantic will be able to market optional products and services to AOL customers.

James G. Cullen, Bell Atlantic's president and chief operating officer, said the agreement demonstrates the telco's commitment to offering the best in high-speed services.

"We're creating a mass-market model for the millennium that adds value for our customers and our company. Combining AOL's marketing clout, convenience and ease-of-use with Bell Atlantic's technological leadership will provide even more momentum to the interactive medium," he said.

Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer, said the deal ensures AOL members will be among the first to benefit from high-speed connections.

"This announcement marks an important advance in our commitment to offer affordable and convenient broadband access to those AOL members seeking faster connection speeds," he said.