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AOL strikes wireless deal with Aether

AOL Time Warner's America Online forges an alliance to develop and promote wireless services--its latest effort to tap small businesses.

AOL Time Warner's America Online unit has struck a deal to develop and promote wireless services produced by Aether Systems.

The agreement announced today marks AOL's latest efforts to tap the small-business market. The online giant's Netscape Communications subsidiary has a service called Netbusiness, which provides online resources, such as human resources, contact networking and industry information, to small-business owners.

The deal will allow AOL to infuse e-mail, instant messaging and content into Aether's wireless products and services. Aether will also create a wireless version of AOL's Netbusiness software in its wireless services for small businesses.

Aether will promote these new products throughout AOL's collection of Internet assets and across some of AOL Time Warner's media properties. AOL will take an undisclosed minority investment in the company.

In a related development, Microsoft announced Tuesday that consumers will be able to send and receive e-mail messages and online content on Motorola's Talkabout T900 two-way pagers. The devices will run on the Arch Wireless network.