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AOL To Be Free For Broadband Users? 159

mikesd81 writes "AOL may give away more services including its AOL.com accounts reserved for paying customers. They have a proposal under consideration which calls for Time Warner's online unit to stop charging subscription fees to users who have high-speed Internet access or even dial-up service from a rival provider. Under the plan the company would continue to charge the fees for those needing dial-up access through AOL. The AOL software also would allow subscribers to continue using instant messaging, Web journals and other services without having to download separate software or figure out Web-based options. That would ease the transition and encourage them to keep using AOL services, the person familiar with the matter said."
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AOL To Be Free For Broadband Users?

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  • Yea, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bakadan ( 987312 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:59PM (#15671193)
    then you'd have to use AOL.
    • LOL! AOL is a burdon on society and needs to be shot in the head, or at least given the leathal injection (but I think if it went to a vote, a shot in the head would win in a landslide). I have no idea why anyone would ever consider using AOL. Only stupid idiots that are tricked by adds use AOL, or those poor bastards who's only option for internet service is AOL, those people need charity.
      • Meh. My girlfriend's mom is hooked on AOL. I've been trying for two years now to convince her that AOL is not where the internet comes from. They even got cable internet. It doesn't work. I put firefox on her machine, and while my girl uses it, her mom won't.

        However, if AOL is offering their service for free, I think I'll wait a month and say, "You're not still paying for that, are you? AOL's offering it for free now." You know, just to be a good possibly future son-in-law.
        • LOL. Yeah I know a girl whos mom is hooked on it too, thinks she wont be able to use her email and IM if she doesn't have AOL as her IP. AOL is officialy the slowest IP ever, even more so for games.
    • Re:Yea, but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Quarters ( 18322 )
      I know you're making a joke and I agree that it is funny. But, as a father of a daughter who is quickly getting old enough to be introduced to the web this new plan has a certain level of appeal to me. If I could let her get on the Net via AOL without having to pay for a monthly subscription I'd do it. Having the parental controls, age verification, etc.. that the AOL client provides without having to cobble it all together, maintain, and police it myself would be a huge benefit to me.
    • You mean I can get an aol.com email address FOR FREE?!? Oh glorious day! Finally, I'll be taken seriously on /.!!


    • I need to think about this: is it worth free?
  • Can someone tell me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:04PM (#15671234)
    What is the point of AOL?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:08PM (#15671263)
      me too!
    • AOL is the internet. Duh. How else would you connect?
    • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:34PM (#15671447)
      What is the point of AOL?

      Those who have been saying for years that AOL content adds no value to what can be had in the wilds of the internet now have proof: Time-Warner will stop charging for AOL content.

      What a long, embarrassing fall for the online company whose stock was once so valuable that it could buy a major cable company!
    • Advertising (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      AOL (the app) is simply voluntary spyware, the entire point of AOL (the company) is not to help or provide a "service" to users but to provide companies with a targeted resource in which to exploit for financial gain

      open AOL (the app) and see what is more prominent , advertising or content ?

    • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:44PM (#15671514) Homepage Journal

      Got me. AOL is one of those things that, even free, still isn't worth it.

      At one point, my company had a "strategic business partnership" with AOL to provide personal Internet service for its employees. Everyone got free AOL accounts for a year. Most of the IT group didn't use them, we knew better. The people I know who did had nothing but trouble, and I don't know anyone who renewed their subscription when the free year ran out. The company didn't do it again. I think that the plan got nixed when all the employess started calling our help desk asking why their Internet at home wasn't working.

      Oh well, lesson learned, I suppose.

    • "What is the point of AOL?"

      It is the "other internet" for people who have not a clue. It protects them from viruses, spam, and other net evils. But, the best part is that AOL protects us from the clueless by making it extremely difficult to spam or spew viruses, trojans, et al from their servers. The walled community of AOL keeps evil out, but also helps keep evil in.

      I am glad AOL exists because it keeps many clueless users away (mostly) from the real internet.

      • AOL itself is spam. And I don't just mean their in-browser advertising. I've kept a 'spam this' Hotmail account for years. So far, the only spam I've received is from AOL and Hotmail telling me every month why I should pay them for their spam filters.
      • "What is the point of AOL?" That's easy. They USED to be the primary introducer of non-technical users to the internet. Now, there is no point and they have to try and make their living doing something different than selling services in addition to the actual connection. That is why they are starting to give away former income generating services for free. I think their attempt at reincarnation will be towards advertising and whatever content delivery they can from the TW side. I won't try and predi
    • What is the point of AOL?

      Yeah, I was going to ask who AOL was, but then I remembered hearing about them in the 90s.

      So, what's next? A new Netscape release? Oh yeah, didn't AOL buy^Hry them in 98?

    • What is the point of AOL?

      The point of AOL is that it provides an appealing mix of on-line services to 18 million paying subscribers--none of them so young and certainly none so ideologically driven as the stereotypical Slashdot Geek. I am discovering as I grow older that the right place for me is the majors' DRM'd subscription services and not the outlaw's P2P nets.

    • You can pretend it is 1986 and you are on CompuServe's proprietary servers?

      Only with pop-ups.
    • AOL is to Normal ISPS that the Macintosh is to the Windows PC. AOL is designed to be so easy to use that even morons can use it. All one needs to do is install the AOL client from an AOL install disk that can be found everywhere and the CD Autoinstall program does that for them.

      AOL then becomes an easy to use search engine and media file finder for people too stupid to use Google and BitTorrent.

      AOL rips off dial-up users with that $24.99 a month rate, but now wants to provide AOL software for free to existi
    • The point of AOL (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maillemaker ( 924053 )
      Now I'm not entirely sure on this, because I never lived in a city that had a local access number for any of the "big guns". But back in the pre-internet days there were these things called "BBSes". They were computers with an (often) dedicated phone line and a modem. You could call them with your computer and leave messages, play games, and download/upload files. At first, most systems could only support one caller at a time. Most were run by hobbiests out of their homes.

      Eventually, some of the system
  • by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:05PM (#15671239) Journal
    . . . only newbies would use AOL. Oh, wait! ;-)
  • by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:08PM (#15671259) Homepage Journal
    A: Yes, but it sucks 10 times faster.
  • In related news the CIA has issued a press release that they will be working with AOL to make version 10.0 the "most secure version ever" in the interests of the American Public.
  • So? (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:13PM (#15671296) Homepage Journal

    I could get AIDS for free, too. That doesn't make it desirable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:13PM (#15671297)
    The AOL access may be free, but they are going to start charging for the install CDs.
  • Stab, ow? (Score:1, Funny)

    by eingram ( 633624 )
    Stabbing yourself in the face is free, too, but it's still not a good idea.
  • AOL (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:14PM (#15671312)
    I guess too many people figured out AOL wasn't 'The Internet'?
    • Re:AOL (Score:3, Funny)

      by cashman73 ( 855518 )
      I guess too many people figured out AOL wasn't 'The Internet'?

      Now I see what Dubya was talking about when he referred to, "The Internets," back in the 2004 campaign! There's the "normal internet" and the "AOL internet" ... two "Internets." ;-)

  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:14PM (#15671314)
    My mother (in spite of my protestations) has used AOL for years.

    She's stopping now though, because even though she pays a high monthly subscription, she gets bombarded with adverts from AOL, even while their addware and spyware 'zapper' is running.
    There are even usually two adverts on the logoff screen.

    I can't beleive it, but they've actually managed to suck more.
  • by Kev_Stewart ( 737140 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:16PM (#15671326)
    Bang that crayon a little further up my nose, Moe. Woo hoo! AOL! How can I lose?
  • the person familiar with the matter said
    Sounds like a reliable source of information to me. No, I didn't read the article. But how did that make it onto the front page? It's not news, it's gossip.
    • Gossip is just another word for real news spoken by inimportant people.

      Presidents of america can gossip ( elite republican guard, WMD, global terror network etc), and be taken seriously.

      Unimportant people can gossip about stuff that's important to them and those they know, and no-one gives a damn.
    • Sounds like a reliable source of information to me. No, I didn't read the article. But how did that make it onto the front page? It's not news, it's gossip.

      Actually, it was announced on CNBC (A financial network) this morning.
      • I suppose I was unclear. What I meant was that the article summary was a piece of crap. Why did they leave the annoying "the person who was familiar with the matter", rather than cite the source? Ah well, my bad.
  • ..."internet to be free for paid internet subscribers." NO idea what the AOL for Broadband business model ever was, except deception.
  • Now if only it was open source, then we could look at the code, comment out all of the code, then it would be a more worthwhile product.
  • this is the fourth "story" in a row that has a question for a title.
  • by Sohil ( 981376 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:29PM (#15671411) Homepage
    I mean they never let you cancel. "Please try AOL free for 50 more days"
    • AOL Customer Service: AOL how can I help you?
      AOL users: We'd like to cancel our accounts please.
      AOLCS: I'm sorry what part of our service were you unhappy with?
      AOL users: We'd like to cancel our accounts please.
      AOLCS: But you logged Umpteenzillion hours on your accounts last month...
      AOL users: We'd like to cancel our accounts please.
      AOLCS: Do you know we'll be hosting a live chat with Lionel Ritchie for paying users only next month?
      AOL users: We'd like to cancel our accounts please.
      AOLCS: Why won't you
  • I dont understand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bombboyer ( 948246 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:34PM (#15671445) Homepage Journal
    I dont understand why anyone would do this.

    Everyone I know that's gone to broadband from AOL did it as much to escape the confines/ads/annoyances of the AOL software as for the speed. Why would you voluntarily restrict yourself to using their browser when you could be using Firefox?

    Furthermore, the people that have broadband (granted, not as much today, but still) are the people that are a bit more technically savvy and want more out of their internet connection/experience. Why on earth would any of these people want AOL?
    • Over 50% people using internet are already on broadband. And why not - everybody over 40 could find it interesting. It is about content. AOL has integrated internet into one application - for rest of the world it is good idea. Anyway, AOL sees end of first itnernet age, and has to move on, or get out of game.
    • I don't know about you, but my friend just signs onto AOL, minimizes it, then opens Firefox to do her web-surfing. I seriously doubt you're vendor-locked into using their crap exclusively.
  • Sounds like yet another useless portal site, but with the added annoyance of having to use a special client to interact with it. If they're looking for market share, that's about the worst way they could go about doing it.
  • AOL is incentivizing people to leave their paid network. AOL subscribers would in effect be subsidizing people that use access through other providers. AOL lowers its own hardware usage and maintenance costs, all those modem banks out there, while still getting some eyeballs to come see the paid ads etc. on their services, which cost little per viewer to maintain.

    A weird business plan. So weird, it just might work!

    But is it still AOL.
  • Free as in speech? Or free as in beer? Hopefully, it's only the latter. I'd hate to have to start saying GNU/AOL all the time.
  • Does it still work with AOHell?
  • And anybody cares, why?
  • by TheRealStyro ( 233246 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:01PM (#15671603) Homepage
    Aol may be proposing to provide free access to services to subscribers that already have internet access. That sounds like it makes alot of sense, if you want the aol service.

    When I worked a short job in telephone tech support, I could never understand why someone would want aol in addition to DSL/cable/etc. I actually worked people through getting them connected to the Internet (and proved it by getting them to CNN/Yahoo/Slashdot/etc. but they didn't think they were actually connected until the aol software decided that it wanted to connect (I passed them off to aol for support since they are connected to the Internet).

    I guess I just don't understand the business side of technology services. This proposed free access for highspeed subscribers should have been done years ago. Better very late (if they do it), than absolutely never, I guess.
  • Red-Letter Day (Score:3, Informative)

    by TobyRush ( 957946 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:08PM (#15671643) Homepage
    Wow. Mark today's date, 4692 September 1993 [wikipedia.org], on your calendars.
    • Except if you bothered to RYFL, AOL gave up newsgroups a year and a half ago. September 1993 won't be over until you can't post from Google Groups.
  • But as for me I know my day wouldn't be complete without an announcement of yet "more" spyware that can be freely stuck on my PC or those of my "users" Thank you AOL. Really. I mean it :).
  • 0Back when the internet started picking up steam in Joe User's home, there weren't as many popular sites that the general people knew about. It actually took some effort to find something you were looking for. Now, you hear about every site there is to be soon from friends, TV news, and any other place you can think of. But then, these people saw the AOL screen. "Hey, buttons for Entertainment, News, Sports, this is so much easier." So now that all these URL thingamabobs are now common knowledge, who needs
    • In fact, in the early early days, AOL had quality content that could not be found on the internet-at-large. Besides that, computers and networks were very new to a lot of people. I started online in 1995 with AOL for DOS, and let me tell you, it was great.

      Great until I figured out that, while AOL was advertising 14.4Kbps (top speed in the day), my dialup POP in the suburbs was 2400bps. And every time I dialed up, I had to wait fifteen minutes while AOL "downloaded new art." And they were charging me by
      • It's been many many years, but I can't help but recall that AOL didn't bill you for the time "downloading new art". Are you sure you're remembering this correctly?
        • ... I can't help but recall that AOL didn't bill you for the time "downloading new art".

          Ah I never looked into it that far. All I knew was that AOL was charging by the hour, that I had to download new art every time, and I could only connect at 2400 baud when 14.4Kbps was standard, and 28.8 was coming up. I just did the math in my own head.

          I would have been surprised if I could have found anyone at AOL to confirm that downloading art wasn't paid time. I spent many hours in their support chats trying diff
  • If we didn't want to use it when it came in the mail, why in the world would we care that it's free now??
  • Should be, "AOL users to start getting what they pay for".

    Anyone else think that I should be an editor?

  • ...for TWC customers in Columbus, OH. I have a free account with them. I use it for testing.

    They did notify me, however, that if I don't cancel AOL before I switch providers, they will begin to charge my account. Ahh, AOL...

  • Would you all use AOL if they redesigned their software and used Mozilla as the base for the browser?

    I would consider it if the damn software didn't act like a virus like norton. Also, they can put all ads in an iframe.
  • This has something to do with that purchase of AOL stock by Google [washingtonpost.com] some time ago?

  • ..."I wouldn't use AOL even if it were free" and people would know that I really meant it. Now I'm waiting for AOL to pay me to use it.
  • I just signed up for an aol account to see how hard it would be to cancel it.

    I signed up online, gave my credit card info and such. I didn't download their software or anything and just called the customer service number that was on the post-signup screen and selected the "cancellation" option. They made me wade through a relatively obnoxious "privacy" screening in order to sit on hold for 7-8 minutes.

    Finally a guy picked up and asked me for all the information all over again. He asked how he could help
  • by sizzzzlerz ( 714878 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @08:21PM (#15672084)
    So now what is AOL gonna do when one of these free accounts wants to cancel? Offer 6 months of double-secret free service?
  • The good side (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mogrify ( 828588 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:04PM (#15672644) Homepage
    My initial reaction was somewhere between "Who cares?" and "Why bother?" - but there's one hidden gem in this pile of broken glass. A lot of my family members won't even attempt to quit AOL because they'd have to change their email address. If they could keep it, but change their ISP (either to broadband or to a dial-up service that doesn't suck quite as hard or b0rk their computer), then that might be the thing that gets 'em to switch. They'll be happier, I'll be happier, and we can all move on and forget AOL ever existed.
  • I think AOL is probably relevant to about .05% of Slashdot users.

    the .05% of Slashdot users who care are the ones that feel extremely sorry for the idiots still using AOL.

    AOL has been obselete since the second half of the 90s and shouldn't be paid for in any circumstance, what AOL is finally doing is placing the proper price on its service.

    AOL's main features are totally useless to anyone (but were revolutionary at the time of introduction)
    - AOL Keywords: Wow, if I don't type WWW then I'll get a smaller we
  • Brilliant. Really. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drrobin_ ( 131741 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:06PM (#15672901)
    This is the sort of turnaround that everybody wishes monolithic corporations could make. Well, now AOL / Time Warner is making one. It's pretty easy to recognize that charging people for access to AOL's information services alone is not a viable business model. We constantly make fun of them for it, or at least I did. AOL for Broadband?

    AOL's brand has started to really hurt lately. Ma and pa are beginning to dislike them, and so this is AOL doing the best move they can: Cut the crap, scale down the profit drive, and return to services. AOL is still a very valuable brand name, and it can still be salvaged for future use. If they immediately stop aggravating customers and do their best to play nice while Time Warner scales them down, the brand can once again have value.

    We always blast away at companies for driving themselves into the ground by refusing to change. And yeah, AOL has been and still is a pretty dark beast in some spots. But despite this, AOL is doing the hardest thing a mega-corporation can do: admit their blunder, and try to change. In addition to mocking their shameful past, some positive, if exasperated, attention should be spent to note this move toward the right direction.

    I have to post a disclaimer to ward off the astroturf melters, though. No, I am not an AOL employee. No, I do not own AOL stock. No, I have no personal or professional stake in AOL at all. Yes, I -am- thoroughly intoxicated.

  • by sapgau ( 413511 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @12:44AM (#15673309) Journal
    Talk about a brand with no respect in the market. Other companies would have rebranded or shown major changes. Seems that the longer AOL remains the longer it'll be seen as a pathetic company/product.

    Wait until it starts loosing more customers because of the stories they read on the media. The company will implode like a black hole, taking Time Warner with them.

    /Waiting for the next stories from future customers trying to cancel their account
  • by CurtMonash ( 986884 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @01:03AM (#15673367) Homepage

    Long, long ago, in a millenium far, far away, my partner and I wrote Upside Magazine's cover story "AOL Doesn't Suck". The title came because editor Richard Brandt emailed me saying "Everybody knows AOL sucks" and I wrote back "No it doesn't!"

    But that was then, in the brief period when AOL shone as a dial-up ISP, when the chat rooms beat most alternatives, when alternate IM systems weren't widespread, when there were few good forums anywhere (Usenet had already been wrecked and the software for the alternatives wasn't there yet), when some of its content was competitive, and so on.

    Now -- well, it's sucked for a long time now. What a waste.

    That said, I've been meaning to do a piece on how net-nonneutrality would turn the whole internet into AOL. This throws a monkeywrench into that plan ...

  • My neighbor recently got a new laptop and it came with wireless, so I moved her over to using my WAP intead of her AOL dialup. She is of course loving the speed increase, but she still pays the monthly AOL subscription, mostly because she has not weaned herself off her AOL email and onto my mailserver. AOL's deciding to not charge for the service and only for the dial-up will be a cost saver for her and many like her.

    I can't help but wonder why they are doing this though? I don't use AOL myself, but I wa

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer