(Wired) The FCC is lifting a restriction that prevented AOL Time Warner from adding videoconferencing to its popular instant-messaging software. 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.
As a condition of the merger between AOL and Time Warner, the government limited AOL’s (AOL) ability to include advanced services in its instant-message software to force it to allow customers of rival services, such as Microsoft Instant Messenger (MSFT) and Yahoo Messenger (YHOO), to send messages to AOL users. Although AOL 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.