America Online, which earlier this year stopped signing up new broadband customers, is telling existing broadband subscribers in nine Southern states that they must find a new broadband carrier by Jan. 17.
Those customers who do not switch to a new broadband carrier by that date will have their accounts revert to AOL's traditional dialup service, said AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley.
The company has been e-mailing its customers in those nine states that they can switch to high-speed broadband service offered by BellSouth Corp. for a special promotional rate.
Most of AOL's 23 million subscribers receive standard dialup service for $24 a month. The company will not disclose how many customers still receive the $54 monthly broadband service, which Bentley acknowledged is relatively expensive compared to other broadband pricing packages now available to consumers.
Bentley said she expects AOL will phase out existing broadband customers in the rest of the country in a similar manner over the next year.
The affected states are Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
America Online is a unit of Time Warner Inc.