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AOL/Time-Warner Opens Cable Network to Other ISPs 165

Saidin writes, "According to this story at, AOL plans to open access to their cable lines for all ISPs to share. Good will, or just an attempt to keep the anti-trust demons off their back?" Well, AOL and Time-Warner are testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, so draw your own conclusion. But, motive aside, competition is good. The full text of the AOL/Time-Warner "memorandum of understanding" is below if you're into reading such things.


Between Time Warner Inc. And America Online, Inc.


February 29, 2000

1. This Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") sets out the commitments that AOL Time Warner will make to provide open access (i.e., to make a choice of multiple Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") available to consumers) on its broadband cable systems. It is the intention of the parties to enter into as quickly as possible a binding definitive agreement to provide broadband AOL service on Time Warner's cable systems, which will be used as a model for the commercial agreements that will be available to other ISPs.

2. AOL Time Warner is committed to offer consumers a choice among multiple ISPs. Consumers will not be required to purchase service from an ISP that is affiliated with AOL Time Warner in order to enjoy broadband Internet service over AOL Time Warner cable systems. AOL Time Warner intends to encourage actively other cable operators similarly to provide consumers with a choice of broadband ISP offerings.

3. AOL Time Warner will effectuate such choice for consumers by negotiating arms-length commercial agreements with both affiliated (such as AOL) and unaffiliated ISPs that wish to offer service on the AOL Time Warner broadband cable systems. Pursuant to such commercial agreements, AOL Time Warner will partner with ISPs to offer consumers a choice of competing broadband Internet service offerings.

4. AOL Time Warner will not place any fixed limit on the number of ISPs with which it will enter into commercial arrangements to provide broadband service to consumers. AOL Time Warner will provide its consumers with a broad choice among ISPs, consistent with providing a quality consumer experience and any technological limitations in providing multiple ISPs on its broadband cable systems.

5. The terms of the commercial agreements between AOL Time Warner and ISPs wishing to provide broadband service will not discriminate on the basis of whether the ISP is affiliated with AOL Time Warner. Thus, while the economic arrangements reached by AOL Time Warner and ISPs wishing to provide broadband service will vary depending on a number of factors (such as the speed, marketing commitments, and nature and tier of the service desired to be offered), AOL Time Warner will not discriminate in those economic arrangements based upon whether or not the ISP is affiliated with AOL Time Warner. In addition, AOL Time Warner will operate its broadband cable systems in a manner that does not discriminate among ISP traffic based on affiliation with AOL Time Warner.

6. AOL Time Warner will allow ISPs to provide video streaming. AOL Time Warner recognizes that some consumers desire video streaming, and AOL Time Warner will not block or limit it.

7. AOL Time Warner will allow ISPs to connect to its broadband cable systems without purchasing broadband backbone transport from AOL Time Warner.

8. Consistent with technological capability, AOL Time Warner will offer ISPs the choice to partner with it to offer broadband Internet service on a national (on all AOL Time Warner cable systems), regional or local basis, in order to facilitate the ability of consumers to choose among ISPs of different size and scope. AOL Time Warner is committed to bring the benefits of the Internet to all Americans, and will not allow ISPs to offer "redlined" service to only a portion of an AOL Time Warner cable system that is fully enabled to provide broadband service.

9. AOL Time Warner is also committed to allow both the cable operator and the ISP to have the opportunity to have a direct relationship with the consumer. Accordingly, both the cable operator and the ISP will be allowed to market and sell broadband service directly to customers. When AOL Time Warner's cable systems sell broadband Internet service to a customer, they will be entirely responsible for billing and collection. When an ISP sells broadband Internet service directly to a customer, it may, if it so chooses, bill and collect from the customer directly.

10. This MOU represents an initial step by Time Warner and AOL to articulate the terms, conditions and parameters under which a combined AOL Time Warner will offer consumers access to multiple ISPs on its broadband cable systems. It is the intention of the parties to continue to refine those particulars in a manner that is responsive to, and consistent with, the desire of consumers to have a choice among multiple ISPs offering broadband service and the still-evolving nature of the cable infrastructure.

11. All of the foregoing is subject to all pre-existing obligations of Time Warner, including without limitation Time Warner's agreements with Serviceco, LLC (d/b/a Road Runner) and its fiduciary and other obligations to its partners. However, Time Warner will endeavor to reach agreements and accommodations with third parties to which pre-existing obligations are due that would permit the full implementation of the commitments described herein as quickly as possible.

Stephen M. Case
Gerald M. Levin
America Online, Inc.
Time Warner Inc.

Thanks to attorney Don Weightman for providing the above text.

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AOL/Time-Warner Opens Cable Network to Other ISPs

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Beowulf extentions to Apache. Just think, a web server, who's request handling capacity could be increased simply by plugging in more machines, *without* needing to upgrade any single machine or take the site offline while it's upgraded. This would allow large numbers of machines to be borrowed during known high peak times. Such as when a new release comes out, and then to remove the extra machines to use them elsewhere during other times.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It seems to me that there is an obvious reason why AOL/Time-Warner is doing this. They want to intentionally slow down the traffic for other ISPs so that they can annoy and anger the customers of its competitors. Eventually those customers will get fed up become AOL/Time-Warner customers. And it is a lot easier to accomplish something like that when you own the network infrastructure!

    When AOL/Time-Warner gets the bulk of all personal and business Internet service business, it will be much easier for them to gather information on anybody that they want. Say that Ted Turner wants to find out what the owner of a certain company (say, News Corporation) is up to. Ted can have his new AOL buddies monitor the Internet usage of Rupert Murdoch, and perhaps capture some of his traffic. Then they can figure out what his company is up to, and then maybe they can find something nasty to black mail him with!! Of course, since they own the media (Time, CNN, Newsweek, etc.) they can immediately publish whatever they find.

    People you cannot underestimate how powerful and potentially evil this corporation is. I once thought that Microsoft was a threat to personal freedom and well-being, but Microsoft can't even hold a candle to AOL/Time-Warner. They want to provide information to everybody, but at the same time, they want to gather information about everybody and use it to their advantage. These are dangerous people. They are not to be trifled with. Let's work together to make sure that their plan never sees the light of day.
  • The only problem is that most of their customers are the kind of people who would choose AOL over the any other ISP.
  • The RoadRunner service in North East Ohio is excellent. This was one of the first markets served and it shows. The uptime on the service this year has just been fantastic.

    Contrast this to when the service launched, it was down all of the time, and they had many other problems (forced login, forced proxy, news server was a complete waste of time, etc...) All of these problems have been fixed.

    I think all new broadband deployments need to go through this pain until they get them stable. I am kind of anxious but fearful of what Open Access will bring to this network. On the one hand, I'd really like to get a static IP instead of forking over $400 for one from RR. On the other hand, being the first large deployment of Open Access on cable is certainly going to mean trouble while they sort out the technical and political details.

    Anyway, it sure beats having no choice.
  • The /. community thanks you, English-police man. What's with pulling out the dictionary and everything? Are you trying to show that you didn't know what it meant until you looked it up?
    I'd agree with your sentiments, though. It would be nice if people were more careful with their words, especially when it isn't an obvious typo that they didn't bother fixing, but a gramatical error.
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • 6. AOL Time Warner will allow ISPs to provide video streaming. AOL Time Warner recognizes that some consumers desire video streaming, and AOL Time Warner will not block or limit it.
    The pessimist in me will only believe it when he sees it. OTOH, this could push @Home and it's affiliates to remove their blocks/limits. I guess this is an advantage of owning movie and TV studios: If it's a Warner Bros. production, the money still makes its way back to them.

    Keith Russell
    OS != Religion
  • Bzzt! Wrong! It's pretty damned important to quite a few Canadian readers who have cable net access, such as customers of Shaw's @Home and NBTel's Vibe services. Some of us care about where the future of cable internet will be, and whether or not we should be worried large companies *cough*Shaw*cough* trying to manipulate ISP just as cable TV companies have been manipulated.

    Oh course, you'll just post a reply saying that Canada is the 51st state, but hey, we get all the benefits of being North American citizens as well. I'm pretty happy with total life expectancy. Are you happy with yours?
  • Here's the problem with that idea. I know approximately how US Worst's DSL is set up.

    Basically, the ISP contracts with US Worst for a MegaCentral line -- it's an ATM feed over a DS1/DS3/etc. at a higher price than a regular DS1/DS3/etc. When a customer connects (via a MegaBit subscriber line) to another ISP, we'll take the fine local ISP as an example, the traffice passes through the DSLAM at the US Worst CO, into US Worst's (oversubscribed) ATM cloud -- don't forget that ATM has quality of service built in, and it wouldn't surprise me personally if traffic had a higher QoS -- and through the MegaCentral line to the ISP. All traffic is passing through US Worst's ATM cloud before getting to *any* ISP.

    IANATW (I am not a telecom weasel), so don't take this as gospel.

  • In order to let AOL use Time-Warner Cable's physical infrastructure to offer cable access without some other government agency jumping on them for being a monopoly, they have to open it up to ISP's other than AOL. They'll still find a way to make the situation more favorable for AOL than anybody else, followed by the other biggies (MSN, Mindspring, etc), with the local mom and pop ISP and their customers getting screwed the most, although the cable company's desire to keep the phone company out of the video (TV, not picture phone) delivery business will be one of the jokers in the deck.
  • Yeah, who'da thought Barrons would be branching out into light fiction.
  • The purpose of sites like those is to get people to look at the ads and to access the parent company's main organ (cable channel or newspaper) in the future where they will be exposed to further ads. That's how they make a living.
    The purpose of Slashdot? That'll need an article and thread all its own.
  • You should have that prediction signed with your real name, dated, notarized, and locked away somewhere so that you can bring it out and say "I told you so!". If I were currently moderating I'd give you an "insightful". The high access Time-Warner Cable is interested in is only their access to your wallet.
  • "Combining the Slashdot Effect with the CNBC Effect" will result in -insert your favorite bad outcome here-
  • I guess my point was that the source of the articles used to be more industry based (LinuxWorld, PC Weekly, etc.) rather than mainstream media (which in many cases is getting stories either "covered everywhere" or stories rejected from the industry press). I will go read CNN and other sites like that for my general knowledge news but I also go to specific industry sites (not just computers) for specific news. Take for example the X-38 project. I found out that it was scrubbed for a month on saturday, CNN covered it midday monday, if /. covers it 24-48 hours later, it's approaching a week old. I always considered /. to be that first tier reference, not third tier.
  • what, exactly, is an "arms-length commercial agreement"?

    Just another computer geek....
  • I wonder if this add any more redunancy to the internet?
  • It means that Real ISP users will have to share their high speed access with AOL/TWs 4 million dumbass users.
  • I wonder if this means that I'll finally be able to get a static IP (or four) through my cable modem.

    I wonder how AOTime will handle bandwidth hogs (like me) that use a different ISP. I'll probably be throttled down to crappy ISDN speeds.

    Oh well, there's always ASDL.

  • AOL plans to open access to their cable lines for all ISPs to share. Good will, or just an attempt to keep the anti-trust demons off their back?

    I guess in a community that hates AOL, none of you are aware that AOL has lead the battle to open access on cable networks to other ISPs. This is not an attempt to "keep the anti-trust demons off their back" this is an attempt to put their money where there mouth is.

    If you don't believe me, read it [] and weep.

  • AOL is the third largest internet provider in Europe, idiot.
  • actually, shouldn't bandwidth theoretically go UP? If multiple ISP's are using the same fiber to connect to their backbone connections, it won't all be on the same backbone connection right? ISP B will have their own servers, machines and bandwidth, as will AOL, and possible ISP C and ISP D. Therefore bandwidth will be MORE available to the other people using the cable lines to get to the actual servers and outgoing internet bandwidth. Am I correct at all on this? Cable fiber can handle a LOT of bandwidth, and that's NOT the reason why cable goes slower, it's the size of the pipe at the ISP -> rest of the net that gets full and slows everyone down. Shouldn't the fact that instead of 1 link to the "net", the cable prodiver will now have 2 or more links to the "net" run by separate sources, and theoreticaly could double (or better) bandwidth?
  • If you want interesting, timely and relevant news and opinion pieces, have a look at The Register []. Slashdot is mostly for flames, trolls, and the odd interesting story now and again.
  • give 'em 10 years and 90% market share, by then they'll have some pretty big power drills.

  • AOL Time Warner intends to encourage actively other cable operators similarly to provide consumers with a choice of broadband ISP offerings.

    This is the key. AOL/TW is trying to look good to others, and say, "Hey, look. We're doing it. Why don't you?" AOL's biggest problem right now is that they can't break into the cable arena. Most communities are forcing the phone companies to open up DSL (for a price, of course), but a lot of cable providers just aren't set up to allow multiple ISP's.

    When I was in Portland, I couldn't get a cable modem, because TCI/AT&T was tied up in the courts with AOL. AOL wanted access to their network, and TCI/AT&T didn't want to give it to them. They were both wrong. AOL wanted access to their infrastructure for free (which AT&T had spent billions on, if I remember correctly). AT&T did not want to give them access at all, even if they paid for it. Hmmm... Seems like there's a happy medium somewhere in there.

  • How can you blackmail Rupert Murdoch, Fox will broadcast "Who want to marry a Rupert Murdoch?" before you can say hud?

    ...I./. .......|
    ..J|/^.^.^ \..|.._//|
  • Yeah, methinks everyone's preoccupied or something. I'd like to believe they're writing code, but it's more likely to be related to someone going IPO.

  • Out here in Seattle, AT&T@Home offers four static IP through it's cable modem. But the upload speeds are limited to 128MB and bandwidth hogs are terminated (the contract specifies no servers).

  • Is there anything hindering cable modem subscribers from using other ISPs for mail/news/web service right now? Is it common for ISPs to firewall their servers from everywhere except their own dialups? I didn't think it was.

    I don't see why this MOU or AOL/Time-Warner's plans make any difference. Is there something I'm missing?

    Or is this just another scam like California's "competitive" electricity market, where the service is the same, and you just have a choice who you send a check to once a month?


  • If this really happens there will be absolutely make cable modems worthless.

    Oops -- Try:

    If this really happens this will absolutely make cable modems worthless.
  • I've powered cycled my modem many times when troubleshooting and i still get the same IP address. And back in January it had been running for 2 months straight but I had 3 different IP's during that time.... Road Runner changes the IP's randomly. And they've been doing it every couple of months for at least the last 2 years.
    The control is all on their administrative end.
  • I agree.

    Global companies are a major threat to the American "ideal" -- free speech, etc. and must be watched very carefully.
  • Dumbass snob. The "Real ISP" users should be saying thank-you to the "dumbass" ISP for letting them use THEIR network.
  • Well now, it could simply be that the behemoth is finally recognizing that trying to be top dog in both channel and content and trying to control both is not the fastest way to making good money. Some company or companies is going to get very rich providing high bandwidth 2-way wire to every home in America. It isn't just a matter of corporate understanding and will though, we have a hodgepodge of very outdated regulations that prevent this from really taking off fully. But whoever does wire up the nation for full multi-media speed bidrectionally will become very rich. Trying to only allow your content on the wire would be counter-productive and stand in the way.
  • If GNUChess is multithreaded it will run fine on a MOSIX cluster as-is. Granted, MOSIX is a wee bit lossier than a native MPI program, but why sweat the port whan you can throw more power at the one you have.

    As for software that runs on a Beowulf, Scientific Applications on Linux [] used to have a fair rundown of them.
  • by vyesue ( 76216 )
    sorry for callign you a hippy then. :D
  • I pay $40/month for RoadRunner. AOL is roughly $20. Every dial-up AOL user that moves is $20/month in cash flow. Every non-AOL user that moves will be $5 to $20 more cash flow as well. ISP market share isn't the issue. What they are after is bandwidth market share, and it will come at the phone company's expense.

    There are also thousands of AOL users that won't currently move to RoadRunner because it would be $60/month ($20 to AOL and $40 to RoadRunner). I assume that this price penalty will disappear for AOL. The FUD factor for the common user will drop drastically when AOL is the cable-based ISP. For each AOL user that jumps to cable, the bandwidth money moves from some baby bell to Time Warner.

    I wonder if AOL/Time Warner will oversell its cable bandwidth the same way it oversold it's dial-up access?

  • sorry, my bad. that should have been informative.
  • >Of course, sooner or later, sites like CNN and >The New York Times are going to wise up to this, >and make their sites more discussion-oriented.

    I seriously doubt this will ever happen. The purpose of sites like those are to tell you what to think.
    Encouraging an intelligent discussion where opinions contrary to the slant of the article can be expressed is the diametric opposite of what these media sites are for.
  • Certainly that is true as far as it goes, but the parent media and by extension the websites carry either mis, dis, or poor information designed to keep the sheep content.

    I will certainly defer a discussion of the purpose of /. at least until the whole internet is on fiber and terabyte hard drives are a buck a piece ;-)
  • That's what this deal will get you. A whole bunch of different ISP's will be accessible on the cable that already runs to your door. Some, like RoadRunner, will charge you for access plus email, news, webspace, etc.; but some will offer a more minimalist service, and charge you less dollars accordingly.

    Assuming AOL/TW are telling the truth, of course.

  • I dont know about the US, but in Canada the CRTC told the Cable and Telco to allow access to ISP's. (For you Yanks Read FCC for a sorta US equivalent)

    The CRTC laid down the tariff to be charged which i believe ..thinking back to last October at 20% below the retail price charged and gave the Cable and Bell Canada a deadline to comply to open up their access. The time limit was 90 days.

    Well 6 months later The ISp's havent been able to offer cable or ASDL service yet. In the Telco's issue its a matter of Bell Canada having been a Monopoly and never upgrading their hardware till they got a rate increase its a matter of the Service not being generally widely available in newer (read under 20 year subdivision)

    In cable access in Quebec at least as i dont know about the other provinces, the ISP have an agreement on pricing but there is a problem over the cable modems. Talking to a senior exec at a medium size ISP its a matter of the Cable Bandits wanting to rent the cable modems to ISP's.

    So despite a ruling by the CRTC requiring open access we wait and wait and wait.

    So if the FCC hasnt mandated access, IBIWISI as the legal types can drag negotiations out.

  • The sad truth is that AOL need not employ monopolistic practices such as pipeline hogging because they are, and likely will always be, the most end-userly ISP there is.

    Little if any actual thought is required to operate an AOL account. The only thing necessary to get connected is to run the setup software and let AOL dig its tentacles into your computer. It's perfect for your grandmother when you don't feel up to serving as tech support as she tries to set up her Mindspring e-mail.

    As nerds and geeks, we are almost religiously opposed to the terribly, terribly unsexy AOL. But to the archetypal end user, it's a blessing right from $DEITY. No thought necessary. What could be greater?

    So AOL can feel free to bust a public relations move by opening their pipelines, because it's just going to put their name in the news yet again.

    ICQ: 49636524

  • A-OH-WELL has decided that if they want to compete in the near future they needed to move to "broadband" internet access. Dial-up will be "dead" in a couple of years and they decided to team up with the largest provider of cable Time-Warner. But wait there is also DSL out there. Many people are switching to DSL from Cable(80% of people I know on DSL have come over from Cable). AOL is thinking they might have chosen the wrong side and is now going to use thier large market clout and capital to encourage Cable and stop DSL from spreading. But of course if they alone did this the government would go Anti-trust on their asses so now they are going to use all of these other re-sellers as pupetts.
  • didn't work for me, but p/ [] does.
  • Does this mean possibly xDSL access also? I would assume it wouldn't truly be DSL because of the lines and varying speeds when everyone in town is on. It would be nice to see it happen though, DSL needs to be more widespread and cheaper. Maybe AOL/Time Warner should get another backbone for dedicated xDSL customers that don't want cable? I think as big as a media/broadband company they are, they should provide some type of xDSL service. Sure cable is fast but what about the people who want to run servers and other things that require a lot of bandwidth? They forbid servers on current cable lines (at least my local @home does :)), and DSL would be a great way around it. Something to consider...
  • I (unfortunately) have Time Warner cable, and about a year ago I asked them what plans they had for cable modems etc. The answer was "No Way José!" "Not at all in the foreseeable future."

    Not only does TW cable S-U-C-K, I am positive that this is 100% AOL trying to cover their asses. Why else would AOL buy TW in the first place? We all heard the whispers of 'Anti-trust' in the air, and AOL knew that they had to get something fast that would still be profitable yet will make them look squeaky-clean!

    IMHO, Time Warner is AOL's biatch, and they will get laid-out like a $2 whore.

    Now that I am done ranting, I must add that I just signed a contract for DSL so I could give a rat's ass about TW anymore. Now all I have to do is get a dish, then I can dump this pathetic $35/mo basic cable service.
  • Maybe I'm missing something, BUT - this seems to be an obvious money-maker to me. Sure, they'd PREFER you to sign up for AOL and pay to access it over their broadband services (they get you coming and going - 1 bill for AOL service, and 1 for the connection through cable). If they DIDN'T open it up, the only buckazoids they'd see would be from direct customers - i.e. people who signed up specifically for AOL. But by opening up, you still keep all those (well, most anyways) customers, but suddenly you are skimming buckazoids from every customer that signs up to competing ISP's over this. This little gem has dramatically increased the potential number of people from whom they can get monthly fees (probably unseen by the customer, it'll be rolled up in the ISP's monthly fee) Maybe there's something deeper to this, or maybe they are being altruistic, but I think it's just an obvious money maker (which is not a Bad Thing to me, hell, they own the cable, they should be able to charge to use it)
  • Hmm.. the quality of moderation seems to be rapidly declining on this forum.

    1. "Off-topic"==offtopic with regards to the thread, not the main post.
    2. Anyone reading at a threshold of 1 would have missed the parent comment anyway, and not seen the reply in the first place (although in nested mode that may vary). Therefore, I must conclude that the moderation was given specifically to punish the "offending" party, rather than to facilitate the separation of high-quality posts and low-quality ones.
    Moderation exists to enable those who want to read the "good" posts to ignore the mediocre-to-crappy ones, not as a check on free speech. (I'm not referring to "free speech" as a right or anything, simply as a privilege granted to all by principle, as intended by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda. And, no, I'm not pretending to speak for someone else, but rather rehashing something he's said dozens of times.)

    What all this means is that moderation exists to moderate the post, not the poster. The whole concept of "karma" was not intended to discourage people from saying whatever happened to be on their mind, however puerile, but rather to ensure that only the most disciplined, insightful, and mature Slashdot posters would get to moderate. This goal, however noble, has apparently failed.

    By now, meta-moderators occupy the same spot in my mind as the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Once upon a time, you were told that they exist, but after a while you grow up and realize that you've been had.

    Now, here comes my little experiment. First, remember that:

    1. I'm posting this under my "real" pseudonym, rather than as AC. (ACs seem to be moderated much less, since they just represent a post, and not an actual poster against whom moderators who've had a bad day can lash out.)
    2. This post is on-topic with regards to the current thread, which deals with the current sad, sad state of /. moderation. Whether the parent thread itself is considered "off-topic" is immaterial here.
    3. Karma per se is not an issue here. I've still got a ways to go before I'm posting at a default score of zero.
    4. Moderators enjoy the same degree of cowardly anonymity in their "moderation" as ACs do in their posting.
    Now, the experiment. Since I'm posting as "hypergeek" rather than AC, I'm bound to be moderated down by some angry clown who happens to dislike what I've said in this post. If I had posted as AC and just "signed" the post as 'hypergeek', then my previous post would be moderated down, not this one. Now that we've established the inevitability of my being moderated down, let's take a look at what this post is not.

    • It is not "flamebait". Any hostility in this post is directed at lousy moderators. Anyone who posts a flame, or any other post for that matter, is no longer a moderator in this context.
    • It is not a "flame". A flame is an inflammatory post directed at an individual. Chewing out a faceless, anonymous moderator, or an entire class of moderators, doesn't cut it.
    • I've already established why it's not "off-topic".
    • It is not redundant, by any stretch of the imagination.
    • It is not a "troll", which specifically refers to a class of posts giving gross misinformation in an attempt to trigger flames from the clueless. This post, on the other hand, feeds an unsavory dose of the truth in an attempt to trigger moderation from the stupid and aggressive.
    • It is not "overrated", because, as posted at its default score, it is unrated. If you can't express your distaste for a post in any terms other than "I don't like it", you shouldn't be moderating in the first place.

    Have I covered all the bases? Good. (On to step 2 of the experiment...)

    Now, despite all the above, or perhaps because of it, chances are that some imbecile is going to moderate this one down, despite having absolutely no grounds to do so.

    Perhaps this post could be (Score: -1, I-Wanted-To-Shut-This-Guy-Up-Because-I-Don't-Like- His-Posts-And-I- Can-Do-So-In-Complete-Anonymity-And-Impunity-Ha-Ha -Ha), but little else.

    I'm just curious as to what category they come up with for this one... maybe someone'll petition CmdrTaco to create a new category for this one. (Score: -1, hypergeek)

    The abuse of anonymity is deplored in ACs, but celebrated in moderators.

    This twitch-impulse moderation has got to stop, folks. You're discouraging people from posting with their actual account. (I, for one, have posted much stupider (and more off-topic) things recently as an AC, and have been moderated up, simply because less is expected of an AC.)

    So, down with lazy moderators. You're not boosting the S/N ratio of Slashdot by enforcing your own personal grudges.

    And my profound apologies to anyone who's reading this article in "nested" mode, and had to scroll through this rant.

  • As a current roadrunner user, I wonder how this
    will affect my bandwidth as more ISPs start
    popping onto this system. I suspect it will be a
    similar case to AOL's busy-signal problems a few
    years ago. Performance will degrade as more
    people jump on the bandwagon, user complaints
    will eventually convince them to upgrade the
    infrastructure to improve performance to a
    reasonable level of quality. Look for many
    vociferous complaints as time goes on.
  • I'm not sure if "Beowulf extensions" to Apache are appropriate or necessary. Once can achieve Web server scalability in the manner you describe with something like TurboLinux TurboCluster Server, where a system designated as a traffic manager points incoming Web requests to a farm of Web servers, each running Apache. Slashdot does the same thing but using different products. Of course, you have to put some effort into synchronizing the Web content, either by having all the servers mount common NFS volumes or by some other mechanism.
  • The Time/Warner owned RoadRunner service is less than satisfactory, judging from what's been reaching my ear. And they own the lines; so it's them, or no cable. This is could very well be a good thing for all involved. AOL gets control, and some good cred, while consumers get some form of choice. I'm baffled by it.
  • They will charge for the bandwidth!

    It'll probably be just like the companies that re-sell Points of Presense to ISPs.

    It will help keep the government off their backs too. ;)

  • I never said it was wrong. What I was saying, mainly to the others who had posted early, it's not about being nice or the FTC or Dept. of Justice.

    The anti-trust issues are secondary.

  • When I talk about Mattel trying to silence me and my website [], people refer to me as a crackpot and tell me to get a life.

    These people don't realize that they can be next.

    One must be protect their rights, or they will lose them!

  • I use RoadRunner for my home access. All I care about is the bandwidth and the IP addresses, everything else is just fluff that I am happier to get elsewhere. I want to be able to get a discount for not using ANY of their ISP services, and go elsewhere for mail, news, website space, etc.

  • Is this real, or FUD?
    Now that Congress is involved,
    draw your conclusions.

  • It's a win-win for AOLTW. If a subscriber wants AOL, AOLTW makes money directly from subscription fees. If the subscriber wants another ISP, AOLTW makes money from the access aggreement between themselves and the ISP. As long as they live up to their promise to treat all ISPs equally, the competition should make it a win for consumers as well.

    By "consumer choice," they mean that TW cable customers can choose from multiple ISPs who offer broadband over TW's cable lines. AOL will be one of those ISPs, with AOL's client and "features" on top. It would be nice if I could get Time Warner cable over Comcast's lines, but Microsoft would sooner switch to ELF binaries! :-)

    Keith Russell
    OS != Religion
  • Most interesting paragraph in the article was the last:

    "They could let ISPs bill people, but they didn't say what kind of prices they could charge them," Kasrel said. "They've still got the issue of what an ISP has to do to get access to their system. Are they going to kick ISPs off if they don't do a good job?"

    Call me cynical, but I doubt that AOL Time Warner is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.

    The official statement says little about the conditions ISPs must meet, and nothing about how this will really shake down for users. The terms might be odious, just as some current arrangements are.

  • I always thought that Slashdot would be the vehicle for getting information about the industry that was ignored by the mainstream media but lately it seems to be 1-3 days behind the mainstream and a pointer to the mainstream media article in any case. I'm reading things on CNN and that I would have expected here first and other things here that just seem to be posted to fill the article quota for the day. Is there really any point to providing pointers to other services like this? Doesn't anyone surf any other news sites besides /.?
  • I would think that the Linux Community would submit courtesy pointers when some new release/feature was coming out. Hell, I can't imagine that CNN has a reporter camped at most of the sites they do stories on. /. has enough industry visibility now that it should get the leads and prepublishing pointers like the other news services. Maybe they do and it's just the story submission queue that's getting too long. I know I stopped submitting stories after about 50 because they never got credited and always had a 2 day lag to the site. Someone the other day mentioned a reply that stated "rejected" for a submission. I've never gotten anything back. A nice "duplicate" with a credit and timestamp would be nice too. Hell, if we could get some of the "first post" energy redirected to submissions, they might BE first tier.
  • Will, you assert that most consumers are lazy. I'm going on the assumption that this is lazy in relation to "computer stuff."
    It seems to me that most consumers (the masses) just don't want to waste a lot of time doing things that people like you and I fine interesting and challenging. Given that, I don't think it's fair to setereotype consumers as lazy just because they don't like to spend gobs of time doing things that you or I like to do.

  • Promises were not made to be broken to a large corporation, they were never intended to be kept in the first place. I think anyone who even gives this the time of day until they are actually using their cable network on another ISP is setting themselves up for a fall.

    And even that won't mean squat. They who giveth access can taketh access away, once the Feds are otherwise occupied. Any competitor with functioning brain cells should laugh at this, and be busy trying to figure out a way to provide access that doesn't rely on AOL/TW.

    Are there really significant numbers people out there who can't see through stuff like this, or is it just such a part of corp culture that they can't not produce BS like this?

  • Their proprietary software is what inspires brand loyalty in their customers. AOL is not just another ISP. They provide more of an experience, rather than just a pipe. I don't think they even want to be just an ISP... The customer base is much less stable.

    For instance, I've gone through 5 or 6 local ISP's and finally settled on a cable connection in the past year... Soon as DSL becomes available in my area, i'll switch to that. Why? Because I'm just looking for pipes. Therefore, I'm not AOL's ideal customer either.

    The pro side of this is that AOL can continue to offer whatever it likes to it's customers, but other ISP's can continute to offer flat fee access to their subscribers, using AOL's pipes. There won't be any worries that in order to access faster connections that you'll need to be running proprietary software that may not be available for your chosen platform.
  • I live in a very rural part of the country (literally in Slapout, Alabama... yes that is the name of the town) which is serviced by Time Warner Cable. We have been left behind in the high-access cable modem market (despite Time Warner's promise of cable modem access by 2000). Hopefully, this will soon bring high bandwidth access to my area.
  • 3. AOL Time Warner will effectuate such choice for consumers by negotiating arm's-length commercial agreements with both affiliated (such as AOL) and unaffiliated ISPs that wish to offer service on the AOL Time Warner broadband cable systems.

    I can see the meeting.

    "Welcome to the AOL/Time Warner ISP negotiations meeting. Glad you all could make it. Now, let me make this clear, even though AOL owns the cable and is in direct competition with all of you, we'd like to remind you that, althouth you will be negotiating with an AOL company, AOL will have no say in the matter and will not recieve preferential treatment."

    Pardon me, but how do you keep yourself at arms length from yourself?

    And even if they could wouldn't their stockholders be beholden to tell them not to?

  • note: Keep moderating this as funny, unless you have a choice of three or four cable companies in your area and your cable bills have gone down over the last six years.

  • The articles keep referring to "consumer choice" when it comes to selecting an ISP. I thought consumers already had a choice.

    I think this is the usual marketing spin. It's certainly true from a certain perspective. Allowing other ISP's to utilize their existing infrastructure will give consumers more choices in terms of Tier-3 ISP's providing high-bandwidth connections.

    Everyone seems to be asking: "why would they do this?" Because they get to *lease* the use of that infrastructure to said tier-3 ISP's. The consumer has a choice (or at least thinks he does), but all those choices ultimately put money in their pocket.

    Very interesting approach...

  • While I agree that it would be nice for Slashdot to be a first-tier source of information, I think realistically we have to realize that it isn't, and it really never has been.

    That's not to say that it couldn't become one, but in order for them to do that, the Slashdot crew would have to hire actual reporters to do research and write their own stories, rather than relying on their reader to do the research for them. Unfortunately, by the way this site is run, I don't think Malda is willing to take /. to the next level, even though they now have multi-million dollar backing.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • This isn't an insult to Slashdot, but what you're pointing out is nothing new. How many "reporters" does Slashdot have working for it? None. Everything that get's posted here (except for Katz' articles) is submitted by readers, who are also generally not "reporters". So the readers who have submitted stories are getting these stories from actual "reporters", from newspapers and websites like The New York Times, CNN, and Wired.

    But that's okay -- Slashdot may be called "News for Nerds", but it's a misnomer. It's really "Discussions for Nerds", which is an area where weblogs like this have much more to offer than just plain news sites.

    Of course, sooner or later, sites like CNN and The New York Times are going to wise up to this, and make their sites more discussion-oriented. That would be a great way for them to keep viewers at their site for longer periods of time, and thus getting more ad-revenue. I mean, after all, it's not like Rob's done anything amazing with the /. code, it's just a good application of the web.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Is AOL's brand better then AT&T?

    Yes, as far as the internet is concerned. For some (most?) computer-illiterate people, "AOL == the WWW == the internet". Just because AT&T or Microsoft has a good brand name doesn't mean that their online service will benefit from that brand name. How many customers does AT&T WorldNet have these days? How about MSN?

  • Just great. All cable services are already over subscribed. The tech support unanimously sucks. The reports are everywhere.

    All this will do is make matters worse. I've already watched my "Blazing Speed" get reduced to a relative crawl (still faster than a 56k modem, but not by much -- and dropping fast).

    If this really happens there will be absolutely make cable modems worthless.

    Be careful what you wish for - it may turn and bite you in the ass.

  • The phone companies where forced to allow ISP's into their xDSL networks. AOL owns the world when it comes to media, so why would the gov't not force them to abide by the same rules that it has pressed down on the baby bells? Hell AOL can now buy all of the baby bells and not worry about the capitol offset.

    I do like the fact that AOL is starting to be proactive in it's relationships with outside companies, this shows that they are ready to become the mega corp. that they aspire to be.

    Now can we get AOL to give the tech savvy a version of their software that we can customize the way we use their service? That would be a cold day in hell.

  • Even at that, Time Warner Cable's prior contracts nuke lots of this - Road Runner's deal with Time Warner is as exclusive ISP. Ditto AtHome with the cable companies they're carried on. Nothing will change until either Road Runner and @Home willingly back out of their deal or they expire.

    Don't know how true this is (it sounds reasonable, at least), however, Time Warner carries a lot of weight within Road Runner. Something to the tune of a 40% stake. They'd only have to convince one of the other partners involved and they could change that exclusive policy. I think an easy target would be Microsoft, since an open cable network would benefit Microsoft because then they could push MSN.

    Not that I think MSN is a viable alternative to anything...


  • My guess is that they want to do this because they believe they will make money at it. They believe that AOL can sell a more attractive ISP package for the average home user to the current Time-Warner cable modem customers than other ISPs can. They may be right. If they are, they make money, and they avoid having complex regulations shoved down their throat that will hamper them in future endeavors. Whatever criticisms we may have of AOL, it has attracted a huge customer base by offering them a service that appeals to them. The price and features are selling.
  • so what in the hell is wrong with that?

    are you telling me that just because AOL/TW is a big (big big big) company, their resources should be public property? when you invest billions of dollars buying a company that has spent billions of dollars developing an infrastructure, that infrastructure BELONGS TO YOU and if you want to charge people to use it, you're fully entitled to do so.

    it would be mean and unfriendly from some points-of-view for AOL/TW to not allow companies to even pay for the infrastructure, but I think that the best you can hope for is that other ISP's are allowed to buy bandwidth on the infrastructure, unless of course youre some kind of "FREE EVERYTHING" hippy.
  • I thought that was it. You're right, it's dragonmount. I've had no problems with it so far, but I'm not really using it for serious work or anything......
  • Why not just use the free WINIP (, I think there's a linux version, before I get flamed for assuming you use windows. It gives you a name that remaps to your IP. (BTW, I have roadrunner and your IP only changes when your cable modem looses power. Unfortunately, It seems like it gets confused and has to be reset about once a week or so.)
  • Wouldn't it be nice to get the IP address and bandwidth and not use them at all for any services whatsoever? RoadRunner doesn't cost too much, but any discount would be welcome. Hell, if it was a static IP I wouldn't have to use them or anybody else for mail, web hosting, etc. I'm already wired for it at home. I just have a dynamic IP that makes it impossible for any type of Hostname that can be accessed by anyone else.
  • If you think about it, this isn't surprising at all. I believe they have a contract with RoadRunner for ISP service for a couple of years. They want to rollout AOL -- of course they're going to 'open' the lines. That way they don't break contract with RR and can roll out (and probably underprice) AOL. When the contract expires, poof, EOOA (End of Open Access).
  • AOL Time Warner is committed to bring the benefits of the Internet to all Americans, and will not allow ISPs to offer "redlined" service to only a portion of an AOL Time Warner cable system that is fully enabled to provide broadband service.

    That is great if it is true. Saying to an ISP - you can carry our content, but you have to carry all of it sounds pretty good to me. Keeping censorship at bay? Then again, does this mean that if a provider is not "fully enabled to provide broadband service" they will be permitted to offer "redlined" content?

  • AOL Can't have a monopoly if it doesn't have access to the @Home network. By opening up their own lines, they are just daring Comcast/TCI etc to do the same. @Home cannot open up their bandwidth to other ISP's without opening it up to AOL. Jeff
  • Read the story [] over at Wired [].
  • Smart move on AOL's part. The net community was almost unaminous in there opposition of the merger. They just took teeth out of that arguement. Now the only questions are os's allowed, etc. Guess the consumer can benefit from politics after all. Must be a cold day in hell.
  • Yeah. I was an idealist once, too. Now I would like nothing more than to see corporate law completely disappear.

    You just don't see it as a student. Watch "head office" once. It's very exaggerated, but very true.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • I'll believe it when I see it. I trust a large corporation like I would trust a cat not to eat my pet birds.

    Promises were not made to be broken to a large corporation, they were never intended to be kept in the first place. I think anyone who even gives this the time of day until they are actually using their cable network on another ISP is setting themselves up for a fall.

    And don't harp on me for this. Corporations have made their own bed.

    If you can't figure out how to mail me, don't.
  • This is a good move for AOL Time Warner for the reasons you propose but i think that the real reasons for the move are two other. One is the basic fact that Time warner only controls about 20% of the cable market whereas AOL + Compuserve are 60% of the ISP market. And since AOL Time Warner has no interest in seeing their ISP share drop they are presuring the other cable companies to do the same. Content is King and for most people AOL is content. so aol "bought" Time Warner to open their lines and thus get all other cable companies to open up their lines. This way they eliminate the largest threat so far to their ISP dominance. The fact that AOL Also happened to get some content in the deal is a happy accident but not the main goal of their purchase. The second reson for openig the lines to other ISPs is about the cable dsl contest. Usually in each movement in technology many different ones appear as the next step but after a while eveyone standarizes on one particular technology. AOL by opening their cable lines to other ISPs is letting other do some of the work in getting people to sign up for cable instead of dsl. Some people will never in a million years have an aol account however they might consider having an account with an isp that uses aol's cabble lines. This is just an example of the many ways having the open lines will benefit aol time warner in the dsl cabble contest.
  • If AOL built cars:

    1. The AOL car would have a TOP speed of 40 MPH yet have a 200 MPH speedometer.
    2. The AOL car would come equipped with a NEW and fantastic 8-Track tape player.
    3. The car would often refuse to start and owners would just expect this and try again later.
    4. The windshield would have an extra dark tint to protect the driver from seeing better cars.
    5. AOL would sell the same model car year after year and claim it's the NEW model.
    6. Every now and then the brakes on the AOL car would just "lock-up" for no apparent reason.
    7. The AOL car would have a very plain body style but would have lots' of pretty colors and lights.
    8. The AOL car would have only one door but it would have 5 extra seats for family members.
    9. Anyone dissatisfied could return the car but must continue to make payments for 6 months.
    10. If an AOL car owner received 3 parking tickets AOL would take the car off of them.
    11. The AOL car would have an AOL Cell phone that can only place calls to other AOL car cell phones.
    12. AOL would pass a new car law forbidding AOL car owners from driving near other car dealerships.
    13. AOL car mechanics would have no experience in car repair.
    14. Younger AOL car drivers would be able to make other peoples AOL cars stall just for fun.
    15. It would not be possible to upgrade your AOL car stereo.
    16. AOL cars would be forced to use AOL gas that cost 20% more and gave worse mileage.
    17. Anytime an AOL car owner saw another AOL car owner he would wonder, M/F/age?
    18. It would be common for AOL car owners to divorce just to marry another AOL car owner.
    19. AOL car owners would always claim to be older or younger than they really are.
    20. AOL cars would come with a steering wheel and AOL would claim no other cars have them.
    21. Every time you close the door on the AOL car it would say, "Good-Bye."

  • crying about how the everything is going to be clogged you evidently don't understand the term "broadband." Broadband, unlike baseband (ethernet), allows you to "channelize" the medium. Each channel has only a certain amount of bandwidth. Your cable modem is on one of these channels. Now, (i don't know if it's feasible to do this with current cablemodem tech) the competitor can put their cable modems on their *own* channel and this will not effect the bandwidth of your ISP's channel. To me this seems to be the most elegant solution there is to open access. Most cable operators would only have to set aside around 5-10 channels for cablemodem use if this avenue is followed. I see problems with routing based on IP or other protocol level means of providing open access. Some of those being a clogged pipe (channel in this case) and packet filtering. This is a step in the right direction though, but don't forget AOL is doing it most likely to get the heat off of Congress to pass legislation mandating open access.
  • This weeks Barrons has a cool little blurb on cable and what deregulation has done to help decrease prices and increase competition.
  • As a long time user of the internet, frankly I cant live with out it (I actully go into witdrawl when i don't read slashdot regularly) I have a few intresting anecdotes about the isp's i've used.

    The first isp I used was a local company called Internet Maine, (this was back in the day of the 486), there I had all sorts of problems getting on finaly it came down to me having to manually input all the inits and commands everytime I wanted to log on. A very time consuming process just to get on the poor web pages that existed at the time. Finally I grew tired of this huge process I had to go through to very little info, and cancelled the servise.

    A few years later I tried an up and coming service known as AOL, I was ammazed by the quality and ease of their interface. However i was also amazed that I had to re-dial for a good 40 min just to get on, an even more time consuming task that that which I had previously endured. But the quality was good, and so I stuck with AOL until an incident, in which much of my private user information was made public including cc#, phone #, and address. I was swamped in spam, and credit fraud. I promptly canceled my AOL account and have since not reccomended them to anyone.

    A year or so later I again went through a local isp called Megalink who offered me cheap rates in exchange for paying in advance. The installaton process was a real pain, and the stupid thing greys out the save password button (this wouldent be a pain but megalink makes you have a 10 char password that is case-sensitive and must include symbols). Im currently still using Megalink even though the best connection I ever get is 36.6 with my 56k v.90 modem.

    Now as I work for an Internet Support Provider I am suppost to get discounted rates to Megalink, however I am still 6 months away from having to renew my yearly subscription.

    Through another buisness connection with MSN I can get free acess, but of course there is no local number in my area.

    And on another note there wont even be cable acess in my area for another 2 years, because im not in Time Warners zone, and thus have to wait for there competitor to offer cable service.

    Anyway if this my story make any diffrence in the world, thats all I was aiming for. Sorry if its bad, its only my first post here, and obviously spelling isn't my thing.

  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @11:05AM (#1237156)
    Being British I haven't got much idea what their cable TV service is like, but I know I wouldn't subscribe to AOL. Doesn't matter how broad the pipe is, they'd have to be so much cheaper than the rival services for me to buy AOL over their cable.

    This way, however, people who wouldn't touch AOL with a 10-foot pole will be able to use their cable, so giving them money that would otherwise have gone to a rival. After all, the ISPs have to rent the access from them.

    It's a win-win for them, and a sign of how short-sighted AT&T are being that they're restricting themselves to Excite@Home.

  • by nellardo ( 68657 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @10:52AM (#1237157) Homepage Journal

    So-called "arm's length" negotiations are actually fairly common and not as difficult as it might seem at first. The short answer is "top management doesn't get involved."

    The longer answer is well-served by an example. I used to work at Sony, so I know the corporate structure and will use it as an example. First, take the following facts:

    • Sony Corporation of America (SCA) is a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation (Tokyo).
    • Nobuyuki Idei runs Sony Corporation.
    • Howard Stringer runs SCA, and reports to Idei (roughly - Howard's on the Tokyo board now, I think, which complicates things).
    • SCA owns Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE).
    • SPE owns Columbia Pictures.
    • Columbia owns a company just to do the releasing of its pictures to movie theaters. That company has staff to do the job of making contracts with theater owners.
    • Pretty much every major studio will have its own releasing company.
    • SCA also owns 50% of Loews Cineplex (Theaters, in the Sony jargon).
    • Theaters owns regional companies for each area where it does business. For example, there's a Loews Cineplex Manhattan. Each of those regional companies makes their own deals for movies, by working with the people from the releasing companies of the movie studios. (This kind of spider-web is why you couldn't see Episode I in a Loews theater in Manhattan, but you could across the river in New Jersey - Manhattan decided they didn't want to accept Lucas's terms, NJ decided they did).
    So, do you think Idei has the time to mess around with contract negotiations between companies that are at best three corporate levels beneath him? Do you think Howard has the time for that? The answer, of course, is that they don't. They don't get involved in the day-to-day operations.

    "But wait!" you cry, "Why can't they just order Loews Theaters to carry all of Columbia's movies?"

    In theory, they could. The chains of command go that way. But this is not the army. This is corporations upon corporations upon corporations. It is assumed that the lower levels know more about the day-to-day operations than the top brass (as well they should). In fact, if top management tried to dictate all the way down, they'd quickly find the entire company upset at micromanagement! (and the company would be right).

    "But what about Microsoft? Everyone knows Bill calls all the shots!"

    Microsoft is not AOL Time Warner. While both have a highly visible founder/chair, Microsoft is corporate-culturally rather uniform. They've never really successfully acquired a company of any real size. Their purchase of Softimage didn't pan out. MSNBC is famous for the lack of cooperation between the TV and Web sides. Even WebTV, well, Bill said WebTV would be running WinCE a long time ago. It still isn't.

    The entrenched culture at Time Warner is an old-media company. They aren't going to rally around Case like Microserfs worshiping Bill. The editor in chief of Time isn't going to not distribute his content everywhere he can. It isn't in his best interest. And similarly, if ISPs offer Time Warner Cable money for carriage, Time Warner Cable will get damn pissed if Case says "no."

    How do you reconcile this with Time Warner Cable not wanting other ISPs on before? First off, they didn't want to be forced by the Feds to carry it for free (as they do with local channels - the "Must Carry" regulations). Second, Time Warner Cable owns a piece of Road Runner. See that part in the memo about "prior commitments?" Road Runner is an exclusive.

    All in all, AOL Time Warner is not such a huge control as it may seem (influence, yes, but that's different). The MOU is meaningless, but that's for other reasons, detailed in another post.

  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @10:01AM (#1237158)
    CNBC [] just announced on the air that the AOL/Time-Warner announcement will be one of the topics of discussion on their show The Edge [] this evening at 6 pm EST. I didn't find a mailto: link to send them questions. Combining the Slashdot Effect with the CNBC Effect on this issue would be an interesting experiment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @09:34AM (#1237159)

    MEEPT!!!!! shall now enlighten the masses with a lesson on Good Business Sense, as illustrated by his avocado-squeezing friends at AOL-Time-Warner-USA.

    • Form a company
    • Sell shoddy product in shiny wrapper. The masses are easily fascinated by shiny things. And cheese. But shiny things are less tasty.
    • Watch company grow. And grow. And grow.
    • Buy bigger more established company.
    • Watch the government get uneasy, and mumble about antitrust action.
    • Recall that the government is also fascinated by shiny things. And young interns. Promise to make your prized posessions available to your competition to stop the mumbles.
    • Watch competition become dependant on your resources.
    • Manipulate price of competition by pointing out their dependance on your resources.
    • Buy competition at price far below market value.
    • Watch your company get bigger and more powerful.
    • Watch government get uneasy again.
    • Repeat.

    This MEEPT!!!!! was brought to you by the Harvard School of Business, the letters D, S, W and the number 20.

  • by Chouser ( 1115 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @09:49AM (#1237160) Homepage
    This is good for AOL on several fronts, I think.
    1. ISPs will jump in and shovel money at AOL faster than individual subscribers would. More instant capital can't hurt.
    2. More capital means more infrastruture sooner. There are still many areas of the country that don't have cable internet access. First-to-market in these areas is still going to mean a lot of cash.
    3. Multiple companies depending on their cable infrastructure means a more robust business model -- less suseptible to consumer-level price fluctuations, less vulnerable to Congressional bullying.
    I would never recommend depending on the good will of a corporation, but I think in there are enough selfish reasons for AOL to do this that we can reasonable expect it to happen.

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @09:39AM (#1237161) Homepage
    AOL has, of course, been actively lobbying Congress for open cable lines, presumably so that they could use them. When they bought Time Warner, they quit lobbying Congress, presumably because they now owned a cable network and didn't need. Today, they open up their lines. Very interesting. Are they being un-hypocritical or do they have ulterior motives. The article posits several hypotheses about how AOL doesn't think it will lose any customers because of the arrangement. I think it's more that they are going to define how open cable systems work, the way they want. This will ultimately work out to their benefit.

    The articles keep referring to "consumer choice" when it comes to selecting an ISP. I thought consumers already had a choice. Are they referring to Time Warner cable customers or are they referring to AOL access? They never really make any of this clear.

    What's this going to do to the bandwidth map? Is it opening up a whole lot of bandwidth to the Internet or is it opening up a specialized source of bandwidth, a sort of subset of the Internet that only a privileged few will get on? Right now, it's all very gimmicky. The maneuver is nice, but you know that AOL isn't doing this to be nice. I don't think it's an anti-trust thing, either. AOL smells some money somewhere and they must be hot on the scent.
  • by adimarco ( 30853 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @09:33AM (#1237162) Homepage
    damn it, i submitted this hours and hours ago (with better links) :)

    other links:

    CNNFn []
    yahoo []

    This is all very interesting, in lieu of the FCC's recent ruling [] that cable providers do NOT have to do this. Perhaps AOL/TimeWarner isn't as bad as we thought, perhaps not :)

  • by evilquaker ( 35963 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @10:11AM (#1237163)
    AOL has, of course, been actively lobbying Congress for open cable lines, presumably so that they could use them. When they bought Time Warner, they quit lobbying Congress, presumably because they now owned a cable network and didn't need. Today, they open up their lines. Very interesting. Are they being un-hypocritical or do they have ulterior motives.

    Of course AOL has ulterior motives. They think this will help them make money. That's the only reason they're doing it.

    I expected AOL to open TW's cable lines, and I'll explain why. My numbers may be off, but I think they're close enough that you'll get the idea.

    AT&T and @Home have about 75% of the cable ISP market. RoadRunner has about 25%. AOL figures that if they open their cable lines, they'll lose about 50% of their customers to other ISPs (because they have the strongest brand, and they can offer the best pricing). Of course, they're still making money on those customers, just not as much. So they stand to lose somewhat less than 12.5% of the market. Where I think they gain is that they can force the FCC to open AT&T's lines, thereby gaining about half of AT&T's customers (brand is king), or about 37.5% of the market. How will this happen? First, AOL implementing an open cable system shows that it's possible, so AT&T's objection on those grounds is thrown out. Further, I think they're hoping that AT&T/@Home customers will start objecting to their exclusive arrangement ("My brother gets AOL, why can't I?"). Finally, if prices are lower, AOL can show that the customer is helped by opening the cable lines. That might be enough to force the FCC to step in...

    Ob. Disclaimer: IANAB (I am not a businessman). The above could be complete hooey. But it makes sense to me...

  • by WillAffleck ( 42386 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @09:42AM (#1237164)
    As a shareholder in AOL, I'd tend to agree with the corporate analysis (did I really say that?) that opening the pipelines to non-AOL will still result in AOL gaining market share.

    The fact is, most consumers are:
    A. lazy
    B. confused by all this computer stuff
    C. lazy
    D. don't like techy things
    E. lazy

    Additionally, opening the pipelines reduces legal costs for the FEC and SEC oversights of the merger, which is probably more of a big deal in terms of expense and effort. AOL wants to keep its dominant market share, and as MSFT reminds us, being distracted by fighting with the government makes for bad business and reduces the profit stream.

    Plus, it's cool to be Open Source or Open Pipeline, anyway. You get to hang out with the Linux geeks and maybe get some of those IPO shares along the way ...

  • by nellardo ( 68657 ) on Tuesday February 29, 2000 @10:59AM (#1237165) Homepage Journal

    I don't think anyone else has mentioned this, buta Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is non-binding! It is quite literally a simple statement that this what they think they're going to do. Any party to the MOU can change their mind and the other parties don't have a legal leg to stand on. Wait for the "Definitive Agreement" - that's the part that has any legal weight. An MOU is just a way to generate press.

    Even at that, Time Warner Cable's prior contracts nuke lots of this - Road Runner's deal with Time Warner is as exclusive ISP. Ditto AtHome with the cable companies they're carried on. Nothing will change until either Road Runner and @Home willingly back out of their deal or they expire.

I've got a bad feeling about this.