EarthLink Touts New Ad Blocking Power

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EarthLink Inc. has unveiled new access software and a new ad campaign aimed at ramping up its drive for new customers — particularly broadband cable-modem users.

The Atlanta-based Internet-service provider last week announced its newest version of access software, TotalAccess 2003, which includes new pop-up ad blocking software and new e-mail features.

EarthLink is the first major ISP to offer a block to pop-up ads – and in doing so cut out that potential revenue source. The downloadable pop-up blocker is offered free to EarthLink customers. Future versions of the TotalAccess software will carry the pop-up blocker built in.

"This was something we wanted to provide because it would improve their experience. It is something that in general, we are hearing just like everyone else hears that people find them annoying," said Staci Parker, EarthLink's vice president of cable sales. "So whatever we can do to remove that annoyance and help improve their Internet experience we are going to do."

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The new TotalAccess software has a simplified e-mail interface that allows customers to share stored addresses and access their stored e-mail from any Internet connection. It also offers faster access to functions and a faster-loading personal start page.

The service upgrades are a key element in attracting more customers in its cable-modem service territories in Time Warner Cable and most recently AT&T Broadband's Seattle system.

"To be able to offer the popup blocker to our Time Warner Cable customers and AT&T Customers as well is a great message for us," Parker said.

All of this will be accompanied by a major new ad campaign touting EarthLink's customer-friendly orientation. The "Why Wait? Move to EarthLink" campaign, the first major effort for the ISP in some time, uses humor to portray the frustrating delays, spam and pop-up ad infestations common with Internet usage.

The ad campaign will carry a high-speed message to customers in its Time Warner Cable and AT&T Broadband territories.

"The overall customer experience on the Internet is important for us, and to be able to provide these products that allow that experience to happen — especially as increasing our broadband footprint is very important to us, and to be able to have these things as additional features and benefits really will help us to reach that goal," Parker said.

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