America Online buys ANS -- In a distinct case of putting $35 million of its money where its mouth has been, America Online today announced plans to purchase ANS (Advanced Network & Services), the company that has managed and operated the NSFnet Backbone Service since 1990. The ANS backbone network is among the largest and fastest public data networks, carrying daily traffic in excess of three billion packets over more than 12,000 miles of leased 45 Mbps (T-3) fiber-optic circuits. The acquisition of ANS follows on the heels of two other Internet-related acquisitions by AOL, BookLink Technologies and NaviSoft.
AOL also announced a closer alliance with Sprint, the network provider that currently carries more than 80 percent of AOL's traffic. I wonder if the closer alliance might be related to the fact that ANS and Sprint compete directly in the Internet provider business. The ANS acquisition also raises the possibility that AOL might consider changing its name from America Online to AOL, since the addition of the ANS network could significantly improve world-wide access to AOL. [ACE]