by Adam C. Engst <email@example.com>
Thanks to Art Sanderson <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Sunil Paul <email@example.com> at America Online, we finally have the real details on accessing America Online via the Internet. From what they tell us, the information about the beta program provided over the phone and then reported to us is almost completely wrong. The telephone tech support folks know nothing about this (or any other) beta program and ideally shouldn't answer questions about it at all. Once the software is released, the telephone support folks should be trained on it.
If you have problems accessing America Online over the Internet, send email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or if you use the Windows TCP software, <email@example.com>. Even if you haven't been accepted into the beta program, you can report bugs and other problems.
The first thing to note is that you will not be expelled for using the beta software. However, America Online asks that you sign up online (keyword = Internet Apply) so they can keep track of how many people use the system, inform testers of any major bugs, give them access to the beta discussion areas on America Online, and so on.
Second, although America Online has not yet finalized pricing for TCP/IP users, it's likely that it will be the same as for a local call - $9.95 for the first five hours and $3.50 each hour after that. Those who pay additional surcharges for connecting from overseas or Hawaii, for instance, should not face those surcharges over the Internet. However, international users, while welcome on America Online, must use America Online's billing, which requires a major credit card or U.S. bank account.