Tag Archives: aol

Dial up is also back up

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They didn’t get the memo about the logo either.

AOL is bringing 2.2 million dial up Internet access subscribers to the Verizon dance. That legacy business generates more than half a billion dollars a year for the former king of online access, according to its fourth quarter 2014 earnings release.

The persistence of the dial up market has been largely attributed to two factors over the past few days: lack of broadband access in rural areas and the appeal of a low, $20 per month price to low income households.

It’s probably true that people who live beyond the reach of DSL or cable modems and/or are budget conscious account for most of those subs. But there’s a third category: travellers who either don’t take Internet availability for granted or regularly spend time at locations without it.

That’s why I still pay to keep a dial up account active. Mine isn’t as pricey as AOL’s, at least on a monthly basis. I have a grandfathered NZ$5 a month plan with the company formerly known as Telecom New Zealand and now known as Spark. I originally got it because when I first started travelling there, it was the only way to get Internet access in nearly the entire country. Now, that’s not true – arguably, New Zealand is doing a better job at bringing modern broadband to rural areas than the U.S. But the plan also includes membership in an international network of dial up access points, including the U.S., although per-minute fees can add up when it’s actually used.

Of course, that means I have to travel with a USB zip modem, and these days I rarely remember to throw it in the bag unless I’m heading to a seriously remote part of the world like, say, Lake San Antonio, California. But knowing I can do it if necessary brings peace of mind, and that’s worth a few bucks a month.

Verizon steers mobile broadband toward advertising and video with AOL deal

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Will the network be neutral enough?

As Verizon runs away from wireline – copper or glass – telecoms service, it’s accelerating towards a video and advertising-centric business model. Yesterday it announced that it will buy AOL, assuming shareholders and regulatory agencies agree. It clearly wants AOL’s online advertising platform, although the draw has to be the technology rather than a killer market share: AOL claims less than 1% of revenue in the online advertising business.

It’s also headed in a different direction than AT&T, at least as far as video is concerned. Where AT&T is trying to buy DirecTv and gain a few million traditional, linear television subscribers, Verizon wants to go over the top. At least that’s how their executive vice president in charge of wireless and wireline operations, John Stratton, described it at an investors’ conference

We are in the TV business; it is still a good draw. Triple Play still matters a lot, but we see a very, very significant shift in the desires of our customers in terms of how they consume video. So obviously in recognizing this, we have begun to make investments in enabling the next generation of video delivery, which we call the OTT stuff, so all the AOL, EdgeCast, OnCue, etc. and our own [Verizon digital media services] leads to that delivery later.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Verizon actually accomplishes that. As Stratton also noted, Verizon is “principally a broadband company”. If they’re using Internet protocol bandwidth to deliver their own programming to mobile customers they could run afoul of the new net neutrality rules, assuming those withstand court challenges.