Online service America Online (AOL) announced this week that it hit the 12 million subscriber mark, further distancing itself from onetime rivals such as the Microsoft Network (MSN) and Prodigy. The subscriber increase comes two months after AOL raised the monthly rate of its unlimited access plan from $19.95 to $21.95, which only slightly slowed growth. The figure doesn't include CompuServe subscribers, which AOL recently acquired.

"This confirms that AOL's convenience and ease of use are key to the online experience for mass market consumers," said Bob Pittman, chief executive of the online services as AOL.

Of the 12 million subscribers, only 1.3 million live outside the United States; 1 million of those subscribers are in Europe.

"Sometimes international is a few years behind us," said an AOL spokesperson. "You can't look at it in one point. I think we're right on track.