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New AOL plan gives heavy users a break

America Online announced a new pricing plan aimed at heavy users.

America Online today announced a new pricing plan aimed at heavy users.

The company's 20/20 Plan will cost users $19.95 for 20 hours per month and $2.95 per each additional hour spent online. Under AOL's old pricing structure, users would have to pay $54.20 for 20 hours each month. A plan for less frequent users--$9.95 per month for the first five hours plus $2.95 per additional hour--remains the same.

Although active AOL users will save a considerable amount on their monthly bills, 95 percent of users spend less than their five free hours online, according to a company spokeswoman. The 20/20 Plan is expected to appeal primarily to accounts with multiple users, such as those used by families.

"We're seeing more families signing on to the service," said Pam McGraw, a spokeswoman for AOL. "This gives them more flexibility."

The new plan also more closely matches the pricing of AOL's competitors. Microsoft Network, for example, charges $19.95 per month for 20 hours, plus $2 each adiditional hour. By contrast, most ISPs, including AT&T WorldNet and Netcom, charge users $19.95 per month for unlimited access.