AOL|7 enters broadband race

Hoping to lure customers with the promise of rich broadband content, AOL|7 has launched a new broadband service complete with its own portal site of exclusive interactive features, music clips and multimedia content.

Available to consumers from 7 March, the new ADSL service has been designed specifically for Australian users as a means of unlocking “the true value of broadband”, AOL|7 CEO Amanda Lacaze said.

AOL|7 is a joint venture between America Online, AAPT and Seven Network Limited. As well as content from the two media groups, including a Seven News On Demand service and TV series previews, the new broadband-specific site will feature digital music content from Petrol Digital a subsidiary of Sydney-based record company Petrol.

But while fresh content deliberately intended for broadband sounds appealing, utilising these services could leave customers with hefty usage bills.

On the down side, only certain content will be available for “free” to users, with the majority coming out of the user’s monthly download limit. For example, downloading purpose-edited Channel Seven content, such as its headline news stories, will not be included in the user’s monthly download usage limit. All of the music content or movie trailers available on the AOL|7 broadband site however, will be.

To avoid confusion on which content falls into what category, free content areas will be marked with an icon to identify them to users, the company said.

In addition to its Web site, the new AOL|7 broadband service includes an AOL Home page and toolbar, which the company claims has been designed exclusively for one-click broadband access. There’s also 20MB of personal Web space and up to seven e-mail addresses incorporated into each service plan.

AOL|7’s broadband services will be available on a three, 12, 18 or 24 month contract. Prices for the service start at $64.95 for a Freedom 256k/64k plan with 700MB of downloads per month. The mid-range Freedom PLUS 512k/128k plan will feature a 1GB monthly download limit for $79.95, while the Freedom MAX 512k/128k plan with 3GB of monthly downloads will be available for $97.95. Additional downloads will be charged at 15 cents per megabyte.

Monthly fees remain the same across all plans, but the set-up price will vary depending on the length of the contract. Those who join on a mammoth 24 month plan will get their service set-up for free. At the other end of the scale, those who sign up for 3 months can expect to pay $299 for an ADSL starter kit and a $99 line connection fee. Customers on the 12 or 18 month plans will not incur a line connection fee, but will be charged $129 and $189 for the start-up kit respectively. Each start-up kit includes a USB/Ethernet modem with built-in firewall.

A positive feature of the new broadband plans is that all customers gain access to a dial-up service with no monthly access fee. Usage for dial-up is charged at $1 per hour plus normal phone charges.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

PC World
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