The past year has seen six million more subscribers join America Online, boosting its total global tally to over 25,000,000.

AOL also announced a European alliance with Spanish bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano, in which they will jointly launch AOL Avant, a web portal designed for instant access via web-enabled appliances such as cellphones, pagers and digital TV sets.

The move is in line with the company’s AOL Anywhere strategy, as are other new initiatives for paying subscribers, among them a digital-music download service with built-in music player, offering piracy-free web music; and – from November - an internet only Gateway computer with touch-screen, wireless keyboard, and a customized AOL service offering email, instant messaging and channels.

The new packages branded AOL 6.0 will be introduced today at an industry trade show in New York, where AOL president of interactive services Barry Schuler will tell attendees: " This is the most sweeping and extensive overhaul in the past five years."

News sources: Advertising Age - Interactive Daily; Wall Street Journal