Friday, January 28, 2005


From FierceWireless below. Some more information from eWeek here and Techdirt's comments here:

Earthlink is getting quite a reputation as an ISP that will try to offer just about anything. Beyond being one of the first ISPs to offer pop-up blocking, anti-spam and anti-virus protection, they also were quick to embrace broadband, rather than sticking to dialup roots. Not only that, but they were willing to embrace all kinds of broadband -- including not just DSL and cable, but WiFi and even (misguided in the opinion of many) broadband over powerlines, while also saying they would be enthusiastic supporters of WiMax when (if) it exists. They've also moved into other areas, being a very early partner of Vonage while also offering a SIP-based softphone VoIP offering. With all that background, it should come as absolutely no surprise that they would be interested in offering their very own mobile phone service through a joint venture with SK Telecom, using Verizon Wireless's network. This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, it's a big win for Verizon Wireless as the operator of an MVNO network. Up until this point, it seemed like Sprint was winning every major deal to be the network behind the brand in other big MVNO deals (Virgin, the "new" AT&T Wireless, Disney/ESPN) -- so now Verizon Wireless can make their own claim on the space. It's also very interesting to see SKT make their move. The company has been interested in expanding in the US for a while, and this is a great opportunity. SKT, of course, is perhaps the most innovative of all the mobile carriers in the world...

EarthLink, SK Telecom to form $440M wireless JV

Earthlink today announced plans to create a $440 million wireless MVNO joint venture with South Korean carrier SK Telecom. The new venture, dubbed SK-EarthLink, will offer cell phone service using network capacity from Sprint and Verizon Wireless. EarthLink will serve as the main consumer brand for the venture, while SK Telecom will act as a technical advisor. The joint venture plans to launch services in the third quarter this year and aims to attract 3 million subscribers, or about 2 percent of the US wireless market, by 2009 with $2 billion in annual revenue by that time. SK Telecom is South Korea's leading wireless carrier. EarthLink is the No. 4 ISP in the US with over 5 million subscribers. The two companies said they expect to close their MVNO deal in the next few months.

This is EarthLink's second foray into the MVNO sector. Last year the company launched an MVNO to offer wireless voice and email service on the BlackBerry handheld. On the other side of the deal, SK Telecom has entertained plans to enter the US market for some time. This MVNO venture with EarthLink allows the carrier expand its market presence beyond Asia.

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