By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer
Some questions and answers about how AOL's changes will affect
Q. I have dial-up access with AOL. What does this mean for me?
A. AOL will still charge $25.90 a month for an unlimited dial-up plan
that includes free phone support, though it will add 50 gigabytes of
online storage and security features beyond the basic software that
just became free. Customers can also choose a $9.95 monthly plan with
unlimited access but no storage or enhanced security. Dial-up
customers can stop paying AOL altogether by getting dial-up or
broadband service through another provider.
Q. I have broadband but I pay extra to AOL for its premium services
such as e-mail and parental control. What does this mean for me?
A. Nothing will happen unless you call AOL to cancel service. AOL
promises that its employees no longer will try to push customers to
keep paying, a tactic that drew criticisms in the past. Those who
occasionally need dial-up access, such as when they travel, can sign
up for a $9.95 monthly plan with only 10 hours of access but enhanced
Some customers who now get AOL-branded service through a cable or
phone provider may find it cheaper to switch to a standalone offering
from that provider. They can call AOL to cancel service, although they
may have to call the provider as well to change their plan.
Q. What does this mean for subscribers abroad?
A. The changes are aimed at U.S. customers, although AOL says it won't
stop European and other subscribers from participating in the
freebies. However, they may have to download the U.S. version of
software or use the English-language Web site.
Q. What does it mean for former subscribers?
A. Those who left AOL within the past two years can access their old
accounts using the same passwords. Those who forgot the password can
reset it by answering a security question, such as their pet's name,
or providing the credit card they had used for verification.
Q. Wasn't AOL free before?
A. In late 2004, AOL began moving away from its traditional "walled
garden" approach of emphasizing exclusive content, deciding to make
most of its news articles, music video and other content available for
free on ad-supported Web sites. However, AOL kept many services,
including AOL.com e-mail accounts and parental controls, part of the
Q. What is becoming free with this strategy shift?
A. Just about everything not already free. Immediately, AOL is making
e-mail accounts free, along with its proprietary software for
accessing AOL features and its Safety and Security Center offering
basic protection from viruses, spyware and other threats. By
September, AOL will make parental controls free as well, along with
now-premium offerings aimed at kids and teens.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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