SJ Mercury: 2 companies seek to open AOL instant messaging

“Two Internet service companies want the government to force
America Online to open up its dominant instant messaging service as
a condition to approving AOL’s giant merger with Time Warner

“In documents filed Tuesday with the Federal Communications
Commission, iCast Corp. of Woburn, Mass., and Tribal Voice of
Denver say AOL controls more than 90 percent of the instant
messaging market. They argue that unless the government uses the
merger review to force AOL to make its instant messenger service an
open communications medium similar to e-mail and the telephone, the
AOL/Time Warner team will have unfair control over an increasingly
critical type of Internet communication.”

“Dulles, Va.-based AOL, the country’s leading Internet and
online provider with more than 22 million subscribers, counters
that it favors openness and has allowed several companies such as
Earthlink Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. to license
its instant messaging software for free. But AOL has insisted that
it retain control over the technology, while many competitors are
pushing for an open standard.”


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