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So this is a somewhat deceiving article… I can’t tell what the real net is:

– Is AOL getting the right to offer Video and other advanced features, or – Is AOL no longer obligated to work toward allowing competitors to use their network? – Or both?

Frankly I have no problem with AOL innovating on top of their service.. I think it’s good for the industry and this limitation has caused them to lose market (such as it is) to other folks like EyeBallChat. But AOL, MSN, Yahoo et al should be mandated to interoperate as it benefits all parties to have a massive, interoperable network of networks.

The FCC shouldn’t have singled out AOL, but unfortunately AOL were the only guys who were merging at the time and this gave the FCC a lever.

-Ian.

—— http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cidX2&ncidX2&e=1&u=/nm/ 20030819/wr_nm/tech_aol_dc

Source: FCC to Lift AOL Instant Messaging Condition 2 hours, 7 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. regulators are expected to allow AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: AOL -news ) to offer advanced instant messaging ( news -web sites ) services without opening its systems to rivals, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission ( news -web sites )’s expected decision would lift a condition imposed on the 2001 merger of America Online and Time Warner.

AOL Time Warner, operator of the world’s biggest online service, in April asked the FCC ( news -web sites ) to lift the condition that precludes it from offering advanced services such as live streaming video.

FCC officials were not immediately available for comment.

Another source familiar with the decision said the FCC vote is 3-2 in favor of lifting the condition.

AOL Time Warner has said the instant messaging market had become more competitive.

“We think we made a compelling case,” said company spokeswoman Tricia Primrose. “We hope the FCC decision will be out soon and that we get a favorable result.”

Instant messaging is a popular Internet function that allows individuals or groups to have real-time text discussions, but providers have been developing more advanced services to lure more customers.

Possible offerings include live video and audio while chatting in real time.

AOL has already planned to offer the ability to send recorded video clips and have voice conversations through instant messaging in the next version of its online service, AOL 9.0.

The software will not feature live streaming video at its September launch.

When the FCC approved America Online’s purchase of media conglomerate Time Warner in 2001, the agency barred the new company from offering advanced instant messaging services like live streaming video until they work with other services or AOL Time Warner proves the ban is no longer necessary.

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