Without fanfare, AOL Time Warner Inc. followed through on the open-access agreements it announced in July and opened Time Warner's cable lines in Columbus, Ohio, to EarthLink Inc.

The company plans to do the same in Syracuse, N.Y., but hasn't announced a date, says spokesman Mike Luftman.

AOLTW didn't announce last week's launch because the national situation would make a release inappropriate, he says.

The deal is part of the AOL Time Warner merger, which has stipulations requiring AOLTW to open its lines to three unaffiliated ISPs. High Speed Access was a front contender, along with EarthLink, but in early September, backed out of the contract. The ISP told AOLTW that "their financial condition made it no longer possible," Luftman says.

He added that AOLTW has an agreement with Juno Online Service in front of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and is talking with "a number of other" ISPs, but would not say who those were.

AOL also launched America Online over Time Warner's cable lines following EarthLink's launch, Luftman says. The company plans similar rollouts in its 20 largest cities as quickly as possible, although Luftman would not give a time frame. The company will announce the rollouts at the time. "That's all I can say," he says.

He adds that AOLTW is "following through on our commitment to make ISP choice a reality," and that the company is moving forward aggressively.