Cable Access Opened for AOL Canada

Unlike its American parent firm, AOL Canada Inc. this week took steps to enter the high-speed cable Internet access market by forming an alliance with Regional Cablesystems Inc., a cable television company serving Canada’s non-urban communities.

Regional Cablesystems provides cable television and telecommunications services to a customer base of approximately 250,000 located in 1,000 non-urban communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland.

The agreement calls for AOL Canada to provide its AOL Plus service to Regional’s users, enabling them to experience broadband-enhanced multimedia, streaming video, music and other upgrade features. Service is set to begin this fall with customers in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, with further expansion planned in the future.
No pricing terms of the service were released.

The deal follows a ruling earlier this week by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that said cable operators have 90 days to resell their services to ISPs for 25 percent off their retail prices. The commission is promoting open access cable Internet, while in the U.S. the subject is still being debated.

“We kind of view that as phase one of the ultimate goal — providing true, wholesale third party access to the infrastructure,” Stephen Bartkiw, CEO, AOL Canada told InternetNews. “You’d have full AOL Plus brand product that is installed, serviced, provision and supported by AOL.

The agreement “reinforces our commitment to find new ways to offer our members broadband upgrade options on all emerging high speed platforms as they become ready for the mass market,” he added.

Bartkiw also said that AOL Canada hopes to work with telecommunications firms for a digital subscriber line (DSL) package, but that goal is being impeded by a lack of standards for DSL.

AOL Canada currently serves more than 130,000 households.

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