AOL may give away Internet service
Company reportedly hopes to transform itself from an Internet-access provider to ad-supported portal.

( -- AOL is mulling a plan to give away its services to customers who already have high-speed Internet service or dial-up service from another company. The company is eager to transform itself from a fee-based Internet-access company to an ad-supported Internet-access provider like Yahoo or Google, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The ambitious plan, which was presented by AOL Chief Executive Jonathan Miller to parent company Time Warner executives last week, could see the company lose as much as $2 billion in subscription income. The loss, however, would be softened by job cuts in marketing and customer service, the newspaper reported.

The company has already been providing much of its content online for free, but because AOL's subscribers make up the bulk of its audience, the impact has been limited.

AOL has been trying to exit the subscription-based business that has seen a drop to 18.6 million customers, down from 26.5 million in 2002.

The move to turn AOL around is seen by many as a key challenge to newly appointed Time Warner President Jeff Bewkes, who is considered a likely candidate to one day succeed CEO Richard Parson. Time Warner owns


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