AOL and Bell Atlantic Form Strategic Partnership to Provide High-Speed Access
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DULLES, VA and NEW YORK, NY -- America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL), the world's leading interactive services company, and Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) today announced a strategic alliance to provide high-speed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) access to the AOL service.
In a significant step for the development of broadband availability, America Online this summer will start to offer Bell Atlantic's Infospeed DSL access as a premium upgrade for AOL members in Bell Atlantic's service area, as the technology becomes available in major markets.
To support this multi-year agreement, Bell Atlantic plans to make its DSL technology available in areas covering 7.5 million homes by the end of 1999, a number that Bell Atlantic expects to nearly double to more than 14 million by the end of the year 2000.
This DSL feature will provide AOL members with high-speed bandwidth to their personal computers over existing telephone wires. At a typical speed of up to 640 kilobits per second, DSL access will be more than 20 times faster than the standard 28.8 kbps modems.
In addition to high-speed access, AOL members who take advantage of the DSL option will:
** Gain "always on" access to AOL, as no dial-up is required for DSL users because they are always connected;
** Be assured of consistently high-speed access because DSL dedicates a broadband connection to each individual user;
** Benefit from "AOL Anywhere," the features of which include enabling broadband users to also connect to AOL when they are not at home;
** Experience broadband-enhanced multimedia and other services; and
** Be able to use their computer and telephone or fax simultaneously on a single phone line.
America Online will be announcing DSL pricing when the roll out begins this summer, but the DSL upgrade is expected to cost AOL members less than $20 extra per month.
AOL also intends to offer a special version of the AOL software that will provide DSL users with links to a customized Bell Atlantic Web site with information on the company's products and services. The companies are planning other co-marketing directed to AOL members with DSL access. In addition, Bell Atlantic will have opportunities to offer AOL members certain optional telecommunications products and services.
James G. Cullen, president and chief operating officer of Bell Atlantic, said, "This first of its kind alliance with America Online demonstrates Bell Atlantic's commitment to becoming consumers' first choice for high- quality, high-speed data 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."
Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer of America Online, said: "This strategic partnership with Bell Atlantic, one of the world's great telecommunications companies and an industry leader in this groundbreaking DSL technology, ensures that our members will be among the first to have the opportunity 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."
Mr. Pittman added: "America Online has always been committed to embracing all new technologies and features that offer our members a full range of options to enhance their online experiences. With our industry- leading membership base, we're excited about the prospect of helping to build economically viable markets for broadband technologies. With our Bell Atlantic partnership and other alliances in the future, we together can begin to make the promise of broadband a reality for mass market consumers."