3-2 FCC vote lets AOL add iChat AV-like abilities to AIM instant messenging service

“The Federal Communications Commission will let AOL Time Warner Inc. add videoconferencing to its popular instant-messaging software, lifting a restriction imposed in 2001 as a condition of the mega-merger of America Online and Time Warner. The Republican-dominated FCC voted 3-2 to approve the change, with the two Democrats dissenting, said an FCC official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The vote should be made public soon, the official said,” Associated Press reports.

AP reports, “The restriction was to intended to force AOL to open its instant-messaging network so customers of rival services, such as those from Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc., could send messages to AOL users. AOL has amassed a huge instant-messaging service by making it available not only for its Internet subscribers but also to everyone else, who can download it for free. Although AOL has said it would work to make its messaging service “interoperable” with rival platforms, company officials say they still have technical and security concerns.”

“AOL asked the FCC in April to lift the limits, noting that its market share among instant-message services had fallen from roughly 65 percent in early 2001 to 58.5 percent, which it said indicated it was no longer “dominant” in the category. Microsoft had 22.2 percent, and Yahoo had 18.3 percent, according to figures AOL supplied to the FCC. Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSN network already let users with Web cameras on their computers send video instant messages to each other for free. Apple Computer Inc. also recently rolled out a videoconferencing service called iChat AV.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews coverage:
8/19/03: Apple iChat AV users might get many new videochat buddies; FCC to lift AOL video IM ban

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