The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) late last month approved AOL Time Warner Inc.'s (AOLTW's) request to allow four Internet service providers to offer Internet services over the company's cable network. Meanwhile, AOLTW continues to file additional requests for approval in an effort to sign up at least three nonaffiliated ISPs in each area it operates cable networks -- a condition that the FTC placed on last year's merger of America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc.
The four approved ISPs are New York Connect.Net Ltd., offering service in New York City; Internet Junction Corp., covering the Tampa Bay and Central Florida areas; Inter.net, an international provider that operates in all the same areas as the Time Warner cable network; and STIC.NET, providing coverage in the San Antonio, Houston, and Austin areas of Texas.
AOLTW is working with these providers to launch services on its cable network in the near future, according to an AOLTW spokeswoman.
These four companies join Earthlink Inc. on the list of service providers that the FTC has approved as nonaffiliated ISPs for AOLTW's Internet cable service. The approval of Earthlink, however, came before AOL and Time Warner merged.
AOLTW has filed seven additional requests for approval of nonaffiliated ISPs with the FTC that are still pending. The agency this month is holding public comment periods on two of AOLTW's most recent filings. The request to approve Web One Inc. as an Internet provider in the Kansas City, Missouri area will be open for comment until Jan. 22, while Jan. 18 is the deadline for comments on the request to approve Athena Services Inc, which operates in the Green Bay and Milwaukee areas of Wisconsin.
The company's motivation to sign up ISPs in the regions where it operates cable networks is twofold. First, company officials have stated that offering customers greater access choice will help spur the adoption of broadband connections such as cable modems. Second, the company must do so to prevent running afoul of the FTC.
As a condition of the merger, the company must sign up three alternatives to its Road Runner broadband ISP service for each region in which it plans to offer cable modem connections. The FTC put this check in place in an effort to prevent the merged company from dominating both the access method and the infrastructure for its broadband network.