America Online has quietly announced that it will discontinue providing member access to Usenet newsgroups next month.
In recent days, AOL subscribers who access keyword "Newsgroups" are greeted with a pop-up message informing them of the change: "Please Note: The AOL Newsgroup service will be discontinued in early 2005."
According to a notice on AOLs Web site, the newsgroup shut-off will occur in February, severing subscribers from the thousands of discussion groups that make up Usenet.
AOL officials werent immediately available to explain the newsgroup shutdown. The ISPs pop-up message advises subscribers that newsgroup services are available from third-party providers.
The message also notes that users with separate high-speed connections may be able to arrange newsgroup access through their broadband provider. AOL users can read newsgroups over the Web using Google Groups, the message said.