MS ready to take free ISP battle into US

AOL under attack on a new front?

Microsoft could be ready to undermine AOL's position in the US as the leading dial-up Internet service provider. The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft is looking to offer dial-up access cheaper than the $21.95 monthly fee currently charged by AOL. There is also speculation that Microsoft may even go as far as to scrap subscription tariffs -- a move that could spark a subscription-free inferno in the US similar to the Freeserve firestorm in the UK. One Microsoft exec was quoted as saying that the software giant "intends to be aggressive with access." AOL is reported to be ready for anything Microsoft can throw at them. While a growing number of ISPs in the US are offering subscription-free access, Microsoft's latest posturing could be designed to hurry things along in the spat over instant messaging (IM). Last week Microsoft and others wrote to AOL calling for the adoption of an industry standard on IM as soon as possible. The deadline for AOL's reply is tomorrow. ®

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