EarthLink Debuts on Multiple-ISP System - Multichannel

EarthLink Debuts on Multiple-ISP System

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EarthLink Network Inc. now has a direct link to cable-modem customers in
Columbus, Ohio, with the debut of the first full-market rollout of a
multiple-Internet-service-provider cable-modem service in a system.

As of Sept. 10, EarthLink signed up its first cable-modem customer in Time
Warner Cable's Columbus market. The planned press announcement was delayed in
light of the terrorist attacks the next day in New York and Washington, D.C.,
according to Tom Andrus, vice president of new products and services at
EarthLink.

'We installed the first one Monday [Sept. 10], so it actually went live, and
it's not like we are waiting for customers,' Andrus said. 'We haven't announced
how many customers, but we are going to ramp it fairly fast, so we expect to
have a significant amount of customers by the end of the year.'

The ISP plans to follow that with rollouts in Time Warner's Syracuse, N.Y.;
Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Tampa, Fla., markets.

It is a major coup for EarthLink, which has been one of the more aggressive
ISPs in brewing up a broadband business. Already owning digital-subscriber-line
and two-way satellite high-speed Internet products, it forged an access
agreement with Time Warner in November 2000.

Under terms of the deal, EarthLink can sign up new customers referred through
Time Warner or sell directly. In the latter case, the customer will never see a
Time Warner Cable logo on any of the promotional material.

Columbus customers are being offered an introductory $41.95 monthly fee
including the modem. That price is less than the going $50 rate for service plus
modem rental in other systems.

'We wanted to go out with an aggressive price so our customers who have been
waiting can sign up quickly,' Andrus said. While that price is low compared to
what customers pay in other cable systems, 'it's a profitable product, and we
are not losing any money on it,' he added.

On the technical side, there were some surprises in the earlier Columbus
trial that forced EarthLink to re-engineer provisioning and marketing
operations, but Andrus said the launch has gone smoothly so far.

The ISP also has trials active with Comcast Cable Communications Inc. and Cox
Communications Inc. And it is readying for AT&T Broadband's upcoming trial
this fall in Boston, although the start date for that has not been
announced.

With the launch, EarthLink can now offer broadband connections via cable,
DSL, or satellite.

'The key point is the magnitude of what this first launch means. It is the
first domino of the cable divisions,' Andrus said. 'From EarthLink's standpoint,
it is the beginning of really reaching our broadband access beyond the small
patchwork we've had.'

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