America Online Inc., the Internet and e-commerce division of AOL Time Warner Inc., has increased by 50 percent the monthly fee charged to existing users of its Bring Your Own Access service.
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Last October, AOL instituted the same price increase for new users of Bring Your Own Access. BYOA is a service designed for consumers who connect to the Web using a competing ISP (Internet service provider), but who still want to access AOL’s proprietary features and content, such an e-mail address and calendar, that aren’t available on its Web site. Starting in March, both new and existing users in the U.S. will pay US$14.95 a month for the service, up from $9.95 a month.
The October price change for new users was not publicized, AOL officials confirmed earlier this month. Also at that time, an AOL spokesman stressed that the pricing change would only affect new users of the service, while existing users would continue to pay the $9.95 monthly rate.
That plan changed. On Jan. 15, AOL sent e-mail messages to existing Bring Your Own Access users to inform them of the price increase, which will take effect in the March billing cycle, AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said. The 50 percent increase marks the first rate change since AOL began the Bring Your Own Access service in 1996, Graham said.
AOL will also offer its existing Bring Your Own Access users two free hours a month of connection time on the AOL network, with any additional connection time costing $2.95 an hour, Graham said. The company offers this service as a backup to users’ primary ISP or to be used when traveling, for example. Previously, Bring Your Own Access users were charged $2.50 an hour for accessing the AOL network, with no free hours a month.