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AOL offer something a bit different!
Tuesday 11 June 2002 21:48:00 by Andrew Ferguson

AOL have announced their mainstream ADSL product for the UK - up until now it was only available to existing AOL users. Their press release can be found on their website here.

Sites like The Register have run the item earlier today, but the information in the release needs a little reading to see whats really offered. The basic product is £34.99 a month, with a special offer of £25 for the modem until 15th July 2002, when it reverts to £85. Now notice there is no mention of activation so it seems AOL are spreading this out over a period of months, one good reason for the higher than average monthly price.

Now what is really different is that AOL are still including their unmetered flat rate dialup access so you can get online free if your ADSL breaks or are just away from home. Then the final surprise is that the calls to support are all free, now once the connection is up and running that probably wont be used much, but useful if you ever get a problem since it keeps the blood pressure down a bit when fretting over the rising cost of the hold music.

Now AOL isnt for everyone, the service does have one disadvantage which is the high latency of the connection, due to their practice of routing everything to the US before it really hits the internet, so online gaming isnt going to be the best. But for your average family the very low initial startup costs, free support and backup is going to appeal to many. So have AOL found a good package? It looks attractive if you are after a low hassle, truly fixed cost broadband access product, £5 less and it would be an amazing deal, at £34.99 people may think a little bit harder over it.

The "should AOL pay VAT or not" debate rages on, some time next year they will probably have to start paying VAT due to an EU directive. So this means that currently AOL are getting £20.24 every month from each broadband users on broadband, whereas a UK based ISP paying VAT would only get £15.03. So that extra money accounts for how they can afford to do the free support/dialup deal thats on offer. Whether they will put the price up when they have to pay VAT is uncertain at this time.

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