AOL mulls free email, other services

US Internet services giant AOL is looking at offering its services, including email, for free to customers with a broadband Internet connection, a news report, quoted by Infoworld Daily, said.

AOL CEO Jonathan Miller presented the idea to other executives at AOL corporate parent Time Warner last week, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Under the plan, AOL would stop charging subscription fees to customers who bought Internet service from another provider, the Wall Street Journal said.

Subscribers with an AOL dial-up service will continue to pay subscriptions. AOL subscribers get email service, as well as virus protection and other security services.

The plan comes as AOL looks for ways to counter a decline in subscribers.

In the first quarter of this year, AOL had 18.6 million subscribers in the US, down by 3.1 million from a year earlier.

AOL's revenue declined 7% to $2 billion in the first quarter, driven by a 13% fall in subscription revenue. Advertising revenue increased 26%, offsetting part of the subscription decline.

AOL expected to lose about 8 million of its 13 million dial-up subscribers if it goes ahead with the plan Miller presented, the Wall Street Journal said.

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