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November 15, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

On-line service providers are starting to consolidate their Internet strategies, with the news that America Online Inc and Prodigy Services Co are both planning World Wide Web sites, although their approach is markedly different. While Prodigy is planning to offer a full range of services via the Internet under an as yet undecided name, America Online is, for the moment at least, just offering Internet surfers a ‘taster’ of the services they would receive if they subscribed. Compuserve Inc has been ahead of the game as regards Internet access, having introduced inbound access to its services from the Internet in March of this year. Prodigy says its Internet node will go up at the end of October and that it will offer the full range of its services to users via the Internet. America Online is not saying exactly when its WorldWide Web site will go live, but it will be a matter of weeks rather than months the company said. On offer will be software and a trial membership allowing users to sample the company’s services. The company says it has not ruled out offering access to its services via the Internet and that it has established a new company, America Online Internet Services Company, to explore the Internet’s commercial possibilities. However, the new company’s explorations are said to be still at an early stage, and no definite plans have been decided upon. Both America Online and Prodigy are to offer enhanced Internet access services to their subscribers: Prodigy says that it is going to offer Gopher and File Transfer Protocol capabilities later this year, and to this end, it is currently working on refinements to its Newsreader interface. America Online too, is currently testing File Transder Protocol capabilities, although it is not saying when these will be introduced, and has also added enhancements to its Usenet Newsgroups including reply to author and mark as read-unread. America Online is cutting its prices from the start of January, to $10 per month including five hours of access, and $3 for each additional hour, bringing it into line with Prodigy’s pricing. America Online Inc has also announced that it is now shipping a multimedia interface to its subscribers, which it says represents the first change to the service’s look and feel since it was introduced in 1989. The new interface is designed to enable the integration of text, photographs, graphics and sound, and includes a Companion Kit, which the company hopes subscribers will pass on to their friends to encourage them to join up. Additionally, America Online says that it has enhanced the service’s navigational features and graphics support.

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