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Net Neutrality

Verizon's AOL deal: ISPs go searching for content

Verizon's AOL deal: ISPs go searching for content

The wave of telecommunications mergers continued this week as Verizon, the country's most popular mobile phone network, agreed to buy AOL, the country's most popular dial-up Internet service. OK, that was a cheap shot. Verizon isn't forking over $4.4 billion because it wants AOL's 2.2 million dial-up customers, as doggedly loyal as they seem to be. Instead, the prize for Verizon is AOL's content businesses, most notably its advertising arm.

In that sense, the deal falls into the same category as AT&T's agreement to buy DirecTV and Comcast's purchase of NBC/Universal. Such combinations of conduit and content have fallen in and out of favor over...