AOL is planning to launch a self-installation broadband product this summer.
The ISP has told ZDNet UK that it is close to resolving the issues that have preventing it joining rivals such as BTopenworld and Freeserve in offering a high-speed Internet access product to UK consumers.
"We've been making lots of progress in our work with BT to resolve our concerns over the provisioning process for broadband. We're hopeful that we'll be able to launch in the near future....in weeks, rather than months," said Matt Peacock, communications director at AOL UK.
AOL is understood to be concerned about potential problems arising when one of its customers applies for a broadband service. Customers are likely to blame AOL for any delays or technical problems, even though these could be the fault of BT's wholesale division.
In theory, AOL could launch its broadband product tomorrow. The service is up and running, and some AOL customers already have a broadband connection, but a full launch complete with a big marketing push will have to wait a bit longer. "We want the service to be absolutely right before we launch it," explained Peacock.
In the meantime, though, AOL is missing out on potential customers. The wholesale broadband price cuts that BT recently made have caused a boost in take-up, and as ZDNet UK first reported, this week Britain is thought to be poised to pass 500,000 broadband home users.
BT partnership played down
BT has alarmed many ISPs with its plans for a no-frills broadband product -- called BT Broadband -- amid claims that the company is attempting to monopolise the UK's broadband sector. AOL, though, is making more positive noises about BT Broadband. "It's too early to say what this new product represents. We've asked BT for more information, and we're going to follow it with great interest," said Peacock. BT Broadband will just give users a high-speed Internet connection, without any of the other services or content typically offered by ISPs. Following its merger with Time Warner, AOL has access to a massive amount of content, for example films and songs, that would enable it to offer compelling broadband services. BT has said that it is in talks with AOL over BT Broadband, leading to suggestions that the two companies could be planning a partnership. Peacock wouldn't admit that such as tie-up was on the cards. "That doesn't quite square with what we think is going on," he said.