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AOL Dumping Some Broadband 275

unsupported writes "Just days after news that AOL will be breaking up into 4 business units, AOL is telling existing broadband customers in 9 Southern states to find a new carrier. This news comes after AOL stopped selling broadband services earlier this year. AOL plans a similar phase out of existing broadband customers for the rest of the country over the next year."
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AOL Dumping Some Broadband

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  • No surprise... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inkdesign ( 7389 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#10799866)
    AOL has been losing customers like crazy - in this case, they just have an alternate reason to leave!
    • Doesnt make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by conrius ( 814609 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:01PM (#10799943)
      With everybody preferring broadband over dial up , it seems suicidal to give up all capability in broadband, split and concentrate more on dial up !! Shouldnt AOL being doing things the other way round and try to build up presence in broadband market ?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        For like $10 a month, but now they just won't be selling their own broadband. I think they're trying position themselves as a content provider for broadband, rather than a broadband ISP. Amazingly, there are people that will want it.

      • Last time I checked broadband was not available everywhere...

        In fact the last figures I saw for 2003 said that only about 36% of home users had broadband.

        Try this link for more information(note: this is a pdf) []
        • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:49PM (#10800572) Homepage
          Last time I checked broadband was not available everywhere...

          In fact the last figures I saw for 2003 said that only about 36% of home users had broadband.

          Last time I checked brown carpeting was not available everywhere...

          In fact the last figures I saw for 2003 said that only about 36% of homes and custom van conversions had brown carpeting.

          (Not to take issue with your conclusion, but your supporting statement is irrelevant)

        • In fact the last figures I saw for 2003 said that only about 36% of home users had broadband.

          Had broadband? Or had the capability for broadand? The last numbers I saw show that more people have broadband than dial-up. They should be pushing broadband, since that's what people are going to, rather than the waning dial-up.
      • Re:Doesnt make sense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:09PM (#10800787) Journal
        This is clearly a case of bad managment. They are litterally *hanging* themselves because someone probably decided that because they make more money off of dial up (no kidding with $24 a month) that now they should focus only on that.

        On the other hand, perhaps AOL is planning on slowely shutting down all of it's Internet based business and going only with Time Warner products.. but that just seems like a huge was to me. Whatever their motives, I say it's a safe bet someone high up will either get rich, get fired, or both.
    • Re:No surprise... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by calibanDNS ( 32250 ) <brad_staton AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:06PM (#10800015)
      The real surprise here is that according to the article AOL is telling customers to switch to BellSouth's FastAccess DSL service. I would really expect them to promote Time Warner's RoadRunner service since it's still a part of AOL/Time Warner. Perhaps such bad decisions like this are a part of the reason that AOL is losing customers?
      • Re:No surprise... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mordors9 ( 665662 )
        From what I remember though, AOL and the Time Warner people don't get along very well. There was a perception by Time Warner that they ended up buying a pig in a poke when they bought AOL.
      • Re:No surprise... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by div_2n ( 525075 )
        As another poster mentioned, RoadRunner is not available in all areas. Adelphia has a big presence in some areas as well as Insight. Bellsouth is near Ubiquitous with the exceptions of Alltel and a few smaller co-ops.

        As to the why--those of you that ever tried to deal with Bellsouth alread know. They are an enormous PITA to deal with, have the nasty habit of quoting you one price over the phone and totally different (read higher) when you get the quote on paper/e-mail and are generally extremely hostile
    • Re:No surprise... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      AOL has been losing customers like crazy - in this case,
      they just have an alternate reason to leave!

      They've been losing customers because their pricing
      is uncompetitive when you take into account package
      discounts through other providers when you sign up for
      more than just broadband.

      The hope is that this will get them back onto the path.
      Customers get breaks for carriers for signing up, like
      BellSouth [] for example.

      Just wait until the cable companies & RBOCs figure out how
      to roll out content r

    • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:44PM (#10800509)

      Recently I got a little note in my landline phone bill: "Hi! This is AOL. Per your request, we will be billing you for our monthly service via the telephone company. Thanks for choosing AOL"
      I have DSL service from [major phone provider] and an IP from [local mom and pop ISP]
      So I called Beautiful downtown Bangalore via the AOL 800 number and after a pleasant wait of forever on really stupid hold music and advertisements, I got some guy named "Bill" who spoke far better English then I. He must have; after all a World class company had hired him to speak to me...I explained the issue which he..did not understand.
      Again it must be me; a fine company like AOHell would never hire people who could not understand their potential customers. "Bill" passed me to "Sheila" who also was very difficult to understand. Feeling even more the Dumb American I explained the problem again and she Asked why I disliked the service and wished to cancel. I yet again explained I had never signed up for the service IN THE FIRST PLACE!
      She then said she would pass me to someone who would help me. Funny, I thought all the other people I had been speaking to were there to help me, silly presumption on my part... I at this point lost my temper and described the circumstance again. precisely, with name, number, dates and other data, and ended with: "If this is not dealt with correctly, litigious redress is always a possibility".
      Two months later: A bill for $56.80 for 2 months of AOL service. At this point postal workers came to mind... I called AOL, said "Lets cut to the chase; give me your supervisor.." After yelling a bit I got a person who spoke American. The bottom line of this call was a promise to remove the charge and the AOL billing. I will wait a week and try calling again or. In the mean time I have already sent a pleasant note to my State Attorneys General Office complementing AOL on their shrewd marketing techniques.
      • Want Advice? Call your credit card company and tell them. They will typically remove it from you bill, and then tell them you need a new card and to cancel your old one before they charge it again.
        • I would but this is a NEW TWIST(tm) on AOHELL billing: they are NOT charging a credit card but rather DIRECTLY TO THE PHONE BILL. What I did was call QWEST my provider and told them that charge was in dispute. This phone bill thing is the latest in weasel tactics from a company that seems to have a hard time with straight forward compition. Must have been taking seminars at SCO...
          • ah... I see now.
            Yes, that sucks large nuts with no easy solution other than to go through QWEST...

            I had a similar issue with citibank, where I had an account and Time Magazine subscription from out of nowhere, but a letter to their offices cleared that up... does QWEST have a billing dispute address you can mail to? They will generally get to it faster that way rather than a phone call, since they have it in writing with a signature saying "no I didn't sign up for this".
        • Want Advice? Call your credit card company and tell them.

          AWESOME Advice. But please explain how this helps when there is no credit card involved? The very first line of his post says it's on his landline phone bill.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#10799875)
    We've had some really great times, which is why it hurts me to say this, but I'm dumping you. Don't cry! It's not you, it's me, really. I want to move in some new directions, and I don't think you can go with me. You'll find someone new, I'm sure of it. Everyone I know says "Broadband is great." and they mean it. I know it hurts right now, but it will fade in time.

  • New Slogan (Score:5, Funny)

    by xCepheus ( 687775 ) <dntn31&yahoo,com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#10799879) Homepage
    Welcome! You've got [NO CARRIER]
  • I miss the commercials of people/things going really fast. Too bad they were all a waste.
  • Here's why (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:58PM (#10799889)
    The affected states are Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

    They probably just got tired of getting paid in squirrel pelts.
  • Retrograde? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by attam ( 806532 )
    So AOL got into broadband b/c their dialup business was getting spanked by it... and now they are dropping the broadband and riding the 56k modem wave out? WTF???
    • I never knew why they pushed AOL Broadband as an ISP when they already offered Roadrunner on Time Warner cable. Now I know AOL and Time Warner never really worked together as one company. The smart thing would have been to rebrand Roadrunner as AOL Broadband or partner AOL as a content provider for Roadrunner, but that would've been too obvious.
    • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#10800094) Homepage
      Years ago I started picturing AOL as walking along holding a gun in each hand. Each gun is pointed toward one of its feet and at random intervals, they pull a trigger. I think they just pulled both at the same time.
    • I bet they are going to get into some type of set top box thing, like WebTV only.. worse.

      Maybe the browsers have just evolved to a point that they are finally as easy to use as AOL. I mean, you can get a great web based email client for free, with 1GB of storage. You still have all the news and stuff. AIM is free for everyone, along with the other instant messengers.

      Really, they should keep everyone on dialup because the only people that use AOL are locked into it because they don't know that other stuff
  • Coasters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:59PM (#10799903) Homepage
    Do you think that the people getting dumped will also receive CDs offering 3 months free dial-up with AOL? I'd be pissed.
    • Re:Coasters (Score:3, Funny)

      by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      At the very least, AOL will let them come over to pick up their stuff.
    • Re:Coasters (Score:5, Funny)

      by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:15PM (#10800133) Journal
      I actually called them up and requested that I be removed from their mailing list. Their response? They told me that was impossible since they mail them at random to the entire population.

      So now, when I see a stack of AOL CDs at the grocery store or a restaurant, I pick them up and put them into the garbage.
    • Re:Coasters (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhilipPeake ( 711883 )
      When some of the old Netscape crowd were laid off by AOL a few years ago AOL HR really could not understand why they were so pissed-off to find an AOL CD with three month's free service in the package provided to them when they were let go.

      Intelligence never was a common commodity at AOL.
  • by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) * <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:59PM (#10799905) Homepage Journal
    1) Alienate customers from an indeustry segment that's actually gaining customers (as opposed to dialup service that's losing customers)

    2) ???

    3) Profit!!! All well and good I suppose, less Newbs out there cluttering crap up.
  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:59PM (#10799910) Homepage
    It's amazing that people would put up with AOL, but time and time again people have shown that no matter how badly they're treated, they'll hang on to bad relationships (including bad business relationships) without thinking of how bad it could really get.
  • Has to be said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:00PM (#10799923) Homepage Journal
    We all generally have the opinion that AOL is "Evil", but if I had to list ONE GOOD THING about them, it would be that even if I am in Antarctica, I could get a dialup provider via AOL. I think that is the reason for a LOT of their original customer base. When people move to broadband, they probably find that AOL isnt the "internet", and simply leave. It lost its appeal, so this is just AOL going back to doing the one thing they are good for.
    • Re:Has to be said (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dead sun ( 104217 ) <aranach AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:28PM (#10800311) Homepage Journal
      I think they just know their customers really well. They're the people who do believe that AOL is the "internet". They're the people who need things spelled out for them in really simple terms. They are not the tech-elite that would really make use of broadband.

      AOL is famous for their little "You've got mail" noise. They're well known for AIM, which has an impressive userbase for something that seems to be lagging behind other protocols.

      They have (or had, I've never subscribed personally) AOL keywords so people don't have to search the web to get information, you just dumped in a sanctioned term and up popped info. There weren't these .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, and everything else for the tech illiterate to become accustomed to.

      So what did AOL always offer? Mail, messenger, some info, and eventually a stepping stone to a larger world. I don't think the average AOL user has much need for broadband. I think once you're ready for broadband you're probably ready to let go of AOL's hand.

      AOL is good for beginners and as you said, widely available access. As that larger world they offer a stepping stone to becomes more media rich they'll lose more customers because it's unaccessable on 56k. But at that point, AOL offering broadband for their core services is overkill too. There's no value to broadband through AOL unless you're using that outside world. But if you're heavily using the outside world, there's little value to AOL. On the other hand, those who don't care about the web at large may be just fine with AOL dialup.

    • My parents were the opposite. My dad tried to drop AOL when he got broadband ($25/month for an extra phone line + $25/month for AOL == $50/month for cable). But with the cable, AOL became useable, with the rest of the Internet.

      So now he's paying $75/month because an AOL 'upgrade' hosed IE outside of AOL, and he won't switch to Firefox because it doesn't work with his bank's website.

      But at least he's using the internet now...

  • Let me get this right... AOL, hwo is losing customers, is closing down segments of their broadband operations while keeping dialup?

    They better know what they're doing... broadband is the future. Although there are still many people on dialup, it's not a good direction to move the company.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:01PM (#10799935)
    Interesting how they chose to redirect all of their broadband customers to Bellsouth instead of their parent company's broadband provider, Time Warner Cable
  • So we all know dialup became unprofitable years ago...

    Does this mean broadband is no better thanks to all the competition?

    Bet they will get into wireless just in time for that to tank too :)
    • Dial-up is not unprofitable! Running AOL on the other hand..

      Charinging $20/mo for dial-up is a perfectly reasonable service. You just have to know that your customer base will not be what it used to be, that most customers will leave at some point. There will always be a market for dial-up though!
    • let me assure you, dialup is profitable. the cost is about 4$/customer for the hardware (PRI, AS, bandiwdth), add maybe 6 to that for support/billing (i'm being VERY generous here because i don't have the numbers for those) (in canadian dollars even!). we charge 25$/month for unlimited service, so that's 15/customer/month of pure profit.

      limited accesses are even more profitable
  • by 1000101 ( 584896 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:09PM (#10800056)
    This doesn't make much sense to me. Doesn't the Time Warner half want to push hi-bandwidth content through to its AOL subscribers? It's much more difficult to do this via 56k. I really don't know much about the merger other than it's not doing so well. But it seems like the two sides aren't really talking.
    • This doesn't make much sense to me. Doesn't the Time Warner half want to push hi-bandwidth content through to its AOL subscribers? It's much more difficult to do this via 56k. I really don't know much about the merger other than it's not doing so well. But it seems like the two sides aren't really talking.

      On the contrary, I think that with the merger AOL Broadband is in some ways redundant. Without entering into the discussion of whether online services themselves are unnecessary/dying, I'd like to point
  • by museumpeace ( 735109 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:10PM (#10800077) Journal
    The reason [aside from the fact that they suck and really amount to traveling the information super highway with training wheels dragging] we dropped our AOL subscription was their incessant advertising to get us to upgrade to aol broadband which they have never delivered in my area. Broadband did become available [some neighborhoods get DSL, we have comcast cable internet pretty much throughout my metro area]. Bottom line: Broadband is killing AOL in my part of New England. If Aol is dumping broadband, its going to hurt them badly in the long run. Even if BB service is costly for them to set up...everybody else [e.g. comcast] raises their rates and gets away with it...breaking even later is better than having no customers.
  • by Raynach ( 713366 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:10PM (#10800078) Homepage
    Now if AOL could just die off completely, the world would be a better place...

    And I wouldn't have to use such a godforsaken slow connection when I visited my parents...

  • Amazing.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:10PM (#10800080) Homepage
    Normally the customers try like hell to get unsubscribed from AOL - apparently, the tables have turned!
    • Normally the customers try like hell to get unsubscribed from AOL - apparently, the tables have turned!

      If only the customers could make it as difficult for AOL to disconnect them as AOL makes it for customers to cancel their own accounts.

  • I've had AOL DSL for almost 3 years now. It was originally offered in my area before Verizon got their act together. When Verizon finally did roll out service, it was 2x as expensive as the AOL one I already had. I thought it was ironic that Verizon was providing the PHY services for AOL anyway ...

    Verizon's prices have dropped, but AOL's rates have stayed pretty rock solid. It doesn't take a genius to recognize that AOL isn't moving with the market. It's possible that the co-lo contractual requiremen
  • Switch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rufus88 ( 748752 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:16PM (#10800152)
    So, this means AOL [] customers might have to switch to RoadRunner []?
  • The reality is.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wstephens ( 815310 )
    The Broadband that these people have is ordered via AOL and billed via the broadband provider. The reality is that AOL is telling these folks that they need to establish a direct broadband relationship with Bell South rather than trough AOL. This way the customer brings their own access. It's really better for the user since they won't have to call AOL for broadband connectivity issues. Once the user has Broadband that doesn't requie the use of the AOL client they'll realize that they don't need AOL.
  • by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:18PM (#10800173) Journal
    Wow. It seemed like a partnership that could've been good... AOL had 23 million subscribers, Time-Warner has a godawful amount of content. Broadband was just getting started, and they had a large set of customers they could've introduced to Time Warner's content, provided at discount prices... heck, they didn't even have to provide the broadband pipe itself.

    WTF? Who blew it?

    Regardless of what people say about the economy, there's a lot of disposable income out there. Surely they could've sold a broadband content service to other people at a bargain, and become the dominant provider like they were for dial-up. Now all that's left is dial-up, fading away...

    I guess maybe AOL should get used to finding its home in the lower-middle class bracket... too bad they coulda been a contender elsewhere.

    • I agree. The execs at Time Warner and AOL really missed a golden opportunity to stand out and gain a huge fan base. There could have been some real innovation in media. It might be the biggest blunder in the technology industry since IBM's original contract with Microsoft.
  • Yup, simply visionary.
  • by Electric Eye ( 5518 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:27PM (#10800285)
    ...people think broadband is a southern rock group with chicks.

    "What yuh doin' with that thar 'puter, Billy Bob?"
  • Open Letter To AOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:30PM (#10800326)

    Dear AOL,

    As I stated to your telemarketing rep who called me last week, I have DSL and no need for your "value added" content and/or advertising. Also, let me repeat what I said to her to close the conversation: AOL, aside from SCO, is the laughing stock of the IT industry. Every decision you make is simply stupid.

    These comments are a result of my being offended by your "Help us make the internet better" ad campaign, which caters to your notoriously unsavvy user base. Here is how you can accomplish this:

    1. Use your assets against your enemies, instead of using their assets against yourself. What sense is there in basing your browser on a competitor's? You own Netscape: Make it grand again.
    2. Speaking of Netscape, stop trashing it. Netscape means browser, not web portal, not cheap ISP, not kitchen sink.
    3. Realize why users are leaving in droves: Broadband is killing dialup; your users, as they graduate from internet preschool, don't need your handholding anymore; your pricing model is several years out of date, outrageously high.

    The only sensible thing you have done in the past 5 years is seed the Mozilla Foundation. Somehow you managed not to stifle the entire project.

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:40PM (#10800443)
    -AOL buys Netscape (possibly to cash-in on the lawsuit against Microsoft)
    -AOL buys Nullsoft (maybe AOL wants their own branded media player)
    -AOL signs contract with Microsoft to use IE browser (instead of using Netscape's browser that they paid 4.2 billion for)
    -AOL lays off Netscape crew, but decides to fund Mozilla
    -AOL is shutting down Nullsoft
    -AOL is getting out of the broadband ISP business.

    Has AOL done anything good in the last few years? What the hell was Time Warner thinking?

  • With the way things are going in the legal world, once it becomes illegal to pretty much breathe online, broadband will not be as much of a value.

    For most people, "If I cant download stuff, then why bother"... ( and I tend to agree )
  • by rlandrum ( 714497 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:47PM (#10800551)
    AOL Broadband is not the same as AOL for Broadband. The difference is that AOL for Broadband is a $15/month service that let's users who already have a broadband connection access higher quality content.

    AOL Broadband is AOL's attempt at being a DSL provider. It didn't work out. In fact, ditching it is probably a good thing.

    Hope that clears things up a bit.
  • Perhaps by only offering slower connections AOL can further delay their current subsribers discovery of how lackluster the AOL services really are?

  • AOL buys time warner-> AOL kills its internet business...
  • That sound is AOL investors all over the world dumping the stock after finding out that the ISP division just released it's suicide note.
  • Find a new carrier? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:15PM (#10803273)
    When I think about early broadband access, I think about how it was nice to have an account on a smaller ISP. But then without any warning at all they get gobbled up by a bigger ISP. Sometimes they went under and sold their customers to EarthLink for example, other times they got an offer they couldn't refuse. While this was frustrating, you at the very least didn't typically notice any downtime.

    Why wouldn't AOL sell off their unwanted customer base to someone else?

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern