AOLTW seeks FCC OK for Fla. ISP

Thu, 10/04/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

AOL Time Warner Inc. applied for U.S. Federal Trade Commission approval to allow Dunedin, Fla.-based Internet Junction Corp. on its Tampa and Central Florida systems. AOLTW has been adding affiliate ISPs to its systems, per FTC requirements from the AOLTW merger.

Within the last month, the cable company has opened its systems in Columbus, Ohio; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Tampa, Fla., to EarthLink Inc., and AOL followed with its service.

Under the motion filed Sept. 26, that the FTC released yesterday, AOLTW asked for approval of Internet Junction to provide cable broadband ISP service in the Florida systems. The agreement is based on the same economic model as the already FTC-approved one the company has with EarthLink, AOLTW says.

The cabler says in the application that Internet Junction, which provides Internet access to about 18,500 subscribers in six counties, would be launched in the divisions with AOL, Road Runner and EarthLink, and "provide consumers in those divisions with the benefits of vigorous competition."

It also says the agreement stems from its efforts to hook up with small and regional ISPs in its divisions; and to adhere to "the principal objective of the Consent Decree."

In December 2000, the FTC approved terms of an order, designed to remedy anticompetitive effects of the merger. Among other points, the order requires AOLTW to bring on at least one nonaffilated cable broadband ISP service before AOL begins service, followed by two other nonaffiliated ISPs within 90 days, FTC says. It also must negotiate in good faith with others after that. In any case, the order says AOLTW can't interfere with content, signals or certain other components of its unaffiliated ISPs or iTV providers.

The FTC in February appointed former U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chief of the Office on Engineering and Technology Dale Hatfield as monitor and trustee of the merger. Hatfield retired from FCC, and now runs the interdisciplinary telecommunications program at the University of Colorado's graduate school in Boulder, Colo.

"I essentially make sure they are living up to the terms of the consent agreement they signed," Hatfield says of his position. He would not comment on any of the events connected with the merger, "because of the nature of the job," but did say that his work entails ISPs coming to him with problems, although the FTC enforces the rules.


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