AOL, Cisco scratch each other’s backs

In an “I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine” deal, AOL Time Warner Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. announced Thursday that they plan to extend their relationship, with the networking heavyweight lending a hand on the technology end, allowing AOL to increase its POPs (points of presence), while Cisco continues to flash its face across the media empire’s vast holdings.

Under the agreement, Cisco will provide AOL Time Warner with routers from the company’s 12400 family of Internet routers which the media conglomerate says will allow it to double the capacity and coverage of its AOL Transit Data Network (ATDN), the company’s main network.

Offering 10G-byte service, the 12400 routers are the fastest on the market, allowing companies to provide more services and quicker speeds, said Cisco spokeswoman Martina Moscone.

The routers were launched in January of this year and offer high-priority packet delivery, which Cisco says is critical for delivering premium IP (Internet Protocol) services.

In addition, Cisco will continue to provide AOL Time Warner with networking technology across several of the company’s divisions, including America Online Inc. and Time Warner Cable.

Likewise, Cisco said that it will continue to advertise with AOL Time Warner’s online properties, as well as extending its marketing campaign through the company’s print and media holdings, including Time Inc. and Turner Broadcasting.

In a change from previous campaigns, Cisco is looking to increase its online advertising under the agreement, Moscone said.

The deepening of the heavyweights’ partnership came after recent highs and lows for both companies due to the mercurial temperament of the economy. While still taking punches, AOL Time Warner managed to narrow its losses in the first quarter, and announced that its subscription base reached 133 million in the quarter, with AOL’s online service totaling 28.8 million users. Cisco, on the other hand, announced its first quarterly loss in 17 years of business Wednesday

The companies would not disclose the financial aspects of the deal.

Cisco, in San Jose, Calif., can be reached at \

AOL Time Warner, in N.Y., can be contacted at