US FCC chairman William Kennard says instant messaging could become as important as the telephone and that the FCC's goal is to "make sure no one company dominates it," but competing providers say the FCC's ruling does not help them enter AOL's IM territory. The terms of the merger dictate that AOL Time Warner must obey Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards, when they are established, or sign interoperability contracts with competitors when it carries advanced applications, including streaming video, on its cable network.
IMunified, representing companies fighting for open standards-based IM interoperability, said, "It still will not provide any near-term benefits for today's IM users. Indeed, given the limited contract requirements that are part of the order, it is possible that consumers will not see material benefits from the commission's order even over the long term." The statement also says, "AOL's stranglehold on IM will remain intact for now."