AOL Europe is now growing a lot faster than its US counterpart, after years in the doldrums. AOL Europe is growing faster because they were forced to separate physical networking from Internet access.

Until they merged with cable company Time Warner in 2000, AOL fought hard to assure equal access to high-speed networks.

Without those open access rules, the AOL service in the United States has struggled to make affordable deals to package its service with network connections from cable companies.

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But in Europe, AOL kept pressing the case for open access. In the last two years the company has won guarantees of equal wholesale prices for broadband telecommunications capacity to sell to consumers in Britain, France and Germany. The rules have played a pivotal role in helping AOL Europe solidify positions in Germany and France and come from far behind to vie for the biggest share of the British market, where it now makes all of its slender profit.

In the US, AOL Broadband has been forced to go it alone as a content service. That strategy has the stench of desperation because ever since AOL is an access company that dreams of being a content company.