AOL subscriber growth will slow because the phone companies will probably offer ISP service. Think about it. Advertising will be free. All they need to do is include a flyer along with the monthly bill for regular phone service. Since they own the lines, it will cost the phone companies practically nothing to offer the service (just the cost of upgrading the central office to ADSL). But they can charge $30 a month, which not only includes regular phone service but always-on Internet access. Their profit margins will swell. Why would they pass this opportunity up?
I agree LDSL will create another dimension of competition for all internet access and service companies. I'm a retired Bell employee, and have been watching US WEST's DSL trial in Phoenix with high adrenalin. However, DSL doesn't necessarily favor the Telco's as ISP's; it does offer a strong improvement in speed. If I could get it tomorrow, I'd buy it in a heartbeat, but would keep and use it with AOL rather than any other ISP (assuming AOL provides for the maximum speed on their end, which I think is a given). Having worked for 30+ years for a telco, I'm skeptical of their ability to provide anything more than faster internet access and transport. They'll never be big in content, least not in my lifetime!