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Europe to follow UK's flat-rate lead

Says AOL bigwig

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The UK's success at introducing flat-rate Internet access is a model other countries are trying to follow, according to AOL International president, Michael Lynton.

At a briefing in London today, Lynton said that the UK's FRIACO-based flat rate wholesale product was setting the standard not just for Europe, but for countries in Latin America and the Far East.

As a result of the introduction of flat-rate access, AOL UK users were now online for more than an hour a day - the same as the US.

The Internet giant believes that the time AOL Europe members spend online is the "best measure of consumer loyalty and satisfaction, and drives revenue growth".

But it's clear that however upbeat, however much it talks of owning a powerful brand and possessing multiple revenue streams backed by a "proven business model", AOL Europe is still a slave to how much time people spend online.

And that is dependent on the introduction of genuine flat-rate Net access.

Lynton, at least, is confident that other countries will follow the UK's lead and introduce unmetered access although he believes that the company still has a fight on its hands to convince incumbent telcos and tardy regulators.

"Lots of countries look to the UK and say that is a standard we should set," he said.

"What AOL achieved with [telecoms regulator] Oftel is being looked at globally."

Looking at the wider view, Lynton said that AOL Europe reported record growth last year with the addition of 1.4 million subscribers, taking its membership in excess of 4.5 million users throughout the Continent. ®

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