back to article RIP EarthLink, 1994–2016: From AOL killer to regional ISP's attic

Turn-of-the-millennium internet giant EarthLink has been acquired and will be absorbed into the brand of a regional US ISP. Windstream Holdings said that it will gobble EarthLink in an all-stock transaction that includes assuming $436m of the former dial-up giant's debt. Upon closing, EarthLink employees and executives will …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are internet speed so bad in the US that 56k modem does better? I can't see any other reason to acquire a modem maker unless EarthLink has branched out into ADSL modems.

    1. MondoMan

      Earthlink is an ISP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Was it an ISP? I have heard the name but, I have never known a single person to use it. In 1999 I was using excite@home primarily. For dial up it was either Juno, NetZero or even BlueLight. I remember all the earthlink e-mail addresses of course, but never met anyone that actually used it (until this article, I thought it was a free e-mail service :-/). Which makes me wonder how this company still exists, let alone worth a billion dollars.

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Was it an ISP?

          Answer - yes and much better than Almost Online aka America Offline. Used them for many years but now get better speed with cable for roughly a comparable price. Being copper wire based and not owning the wire to the customer hurt them. They were quite common in the Southeast US.

  2. asdf

    >At its height in 1999, EarthLink stock peaked

    Not the best year to look for sane valuations of companies. In fact if Microsoft would have continued it trajectory from 1997 to 1999 to today its market cap would be approximately a kajillion bajillion dollars (that number exists, I once saw it on an Zimbabwe bank note).

  3. m0rt

    ""With this transaction, we are combining two highly complementary organizations with closely aligned operating strategies and business unit structures.""

    Fsck me. These people sleep at night? WHen did the mundane become weaponisable...?

    1. asdf

      >combining two highly complementary organizations with closely aligned operating strategies and business unit structures

      ie the two drowning men holding onto each other strategy (see GraftKings and Fanfool).

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
  4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Earthlink Windstream &


    Hopefully not

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Earthlink Windstream &

      I'm glad you did that, I was trying to think of a brand to complete the trio.

  5. Youngone Silver badge

    EarthLink's board will be combined with Windstream's

    I guess that means none of the directors will lose any fees.

    Can't have that now, can we?

    Why do shareholders put up with that sort of thing?

    1. Sven Coenye

      Re: EarthLink's board will be combined with Windstream's

      Because it will be more than made up for by canning functional staff. Then they sell the stock on.

  6. Jeffrey Nonken

    No fond memory comments, then? I guess nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

    1. John Gamble

      Eh, the only memory I have of Earthlink is when they came in and bought almost all of the local, independent ISPs. Their wannabe-monopolist dreams went nowhere, fortunately.

      1. Citizens untied

        This activity ruined my coveted email address.

  7. Tac Eht Xilef

    Was Earthlink in the end ...

    ... still owned by the 'tologists?

    "The fate of EarthLink's exec team was not given"

    They're probably being packed into a volcano somewhere as I type this...

  8. Dr Trevor Marshall

    I still use Earthlink for Broadband cable backup to the Verizon Fibre

    As well as my fibre connection I use Earthlink as a backup service. They deliver via the TimeWarner Cable connection, much cheaper rates than Time-Warner, and adequate speeds (25/25). Hopefully this deal will not raise my rates too much, as I only use the service when the fibre is down (or slow) :)

    1. Updraft102

      Re: I still use Earthlink for Broadband cable backup to the Verizon Fibre

      Your backup is far better than anything available here!

  9. L05ER


    i still use my earthlink email...

    1. wayne 8

      Re: ha!

      Same here. Though I have been phasing out my earthlink addresses for almost a year. Not in a real hurry. Reminds me I better check my email!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not your granddaddy's Earthlink

    I assume that Windstream are buying Earthlink for the Earthlink Business part of the organization, right? Right?? That is the valuable part - they're the dudes with the kajillion miles of fiber and lucrative business customers. The dial-up business, if it exists, is tiny.

  11. Christian Berger

    It was a much different time back then

    Back then people escaped their walled gardens to be on the open Internet. Now many people go to walled gardens such as Facebook.

    Perhaps one thing is still the same. People using "online services" such as AOL were often regarded as the less smart ones, the conformists, the people who don't quite think for themselves. It's still like this with Facebook in some regard. More and more people apologize for being on Facebook or say that their account is just there for some legacy application.

    It's a discussion that goes on for decades. The official magazine of the Chaos Computer Club already posted the question if it's right to be on "commercial mailboxes". Back then it was about "BTX" the German version of "PRESTEL". (had much fancier graphics conforming to the latest standard for teletext) (it even impressed aliens back then)

    1. picturethis

      Re: It was a much different time back then

      "Back then people escaped their walled gardens to be on the open Internet. Now many people go to walled gardens such as Facebook."

      When the only thing you've ever known is being inside a walled garden, and have never seen beyond the walls, one doesn't know that you're in a walled garden, hence no desire to escape. That's what the upcoming generation is experiencing.

      I think this upcoming generation should be called the p(hone) generation or maybe the c(ell) generation. I would venture a guess that over 50% have never owned a PC (and probably never will) so they're in a walled garden within a walled garden a - WGWAWG if you will... Maybe this is the name of the next generation the "WGWAWG" generation (pronounced wig-wawg) :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually.....lot's still on dial-up

    There are still loads of people around here that are on dial-up. DSL isn't available in most of these smaller areas and cable doesn't come out anywhere near here. There is always satellite service but that, again, isn't available very much and it's very expensive for not much better than dial up speeds.

    Kind of a bummer. I'm one of the lucky ones, 6meg service for $63 per month but then I get a $15 discount off that.

    Still beats living in the city.

  13. UncleZoot

    I predate EarthLink back to the old Mindspring days.

    EarthLink has been pretty good over the years for service. When EarthLink purchased Mindspring, of course there was a price increase. They were slow to gain access to DSL, so I went with Bell Atlantic, that fell under the Verizon umbrella. Still kept a limited plan with Earthling as a fall back and my old email address.

    What used to cost $5.95 a month for 6 hours of dial up and email address has risen to $14.95 a month.

    EarthLink gives subscribers access to dummy mail boxes, so it's easy to tell who sold your email address and take the necessary action. If the spam filters didn't work as well as they do, I'd be gone. Can't tell you the last time I used any dial up service as I haven't had a land line in 10 or so years, and I only used dial up on the road for protection against the hotel broadband snoops.

    All good things come to and end. Farewell EarthLink.

  14. bombastic bob Silver badge

    I still use Earthlink DSL because it's cheap. dammit.

    Well, I still use Earthlink DSL because it's cheap. I get a fixed IPv4 address at a reasonable cost [which I need for various reasons, from incoming mail to sshd and DNS] for about $65/month, but the 3rd party DSL service that they contract to is the *WORST* [and, no doubt, the CHEAPEST].

    A lot of the mediocre service level is ALSO the phone company's fault [old wires], a lot of that is the quality of their DSL equipment, and all too often they acted as if they were just "writing me off". For a while, when the lines were having trouble, and even when THEIR NETWORK had trouble, I resorted to SCREAMING OVER THE PHONE to stop them from doing a 2 hour "boiler plate" to figure out what _I_ ALREADY! KNEW!!! And that overly-thick India accent... they didn't even TRY to disguise it! Bluh-duh-bluh-duh-bluh it sounded like to me, over the phone, and half the time they'd let the microphone drop too far from their faces and so I was CONSTANTLY saying "*PLEASE* speak LOUDER" or "CLEARLY" or just "I can't understand ANYTHING you are SAYING!!!".

    And I've known and worked with MANY people from India before, including a good friend when I was in High School. None of them talked THAT way at all. THEIR accents were mild, and easy to understand. However, THESE Earthlink "SUPPORT" idiots must be "THE CHEAPEST" phone support on the PLANET, because they're acting like CRAP-QUALITY BOILER-PLATE ANAL-RENTENTIVE ROBOTS stuck in a "GOTO 10" loop. And the people on the PHONE had ALL had HORRIBLY THICK ACCENTS, and talked TOO quickly, and were CONDESCENDING, and ROBOTICALLY FRUSTRATING, and IRRITATING as HELL. "HELL DESK" indeed...

    And since the problem was *ALWAYS* either a) bad phone lines [which the phone company admitted to, and fixed, when the actual VOICE connection stopped working], or the EARTHLINK NETWORK [when my login stopped working, but I had "decent" loopback response and SNR and tones and modulation on the diagnostic screens], they would STILL want me to REBOOT MY COMPUTER, and took NEARLY a FREAKING WEEK to fix it. And when they just HAD to say "what operating system" EVERY! FREAKING! TIME! I said 'FreeBSD', and repeated it a dozen times, and it's like I was speaking MARTIAN to them or something. So I just gave up on their INCOMPETENCE and INSISTED on SPEAKING WITH A MANAGER, EVERY! SINGLE! TIME!!!

    The WORST thing that happend was when they CAPPED MY BANDWIDTH at 384kbaud for a while. I didn't know they'd done that, until AFTER the phone lines had been fixed, and I SCREAMED at them over the phone for at least an HOUR until they REMOVED it. THEN, I got the expected 768k to 1mbit [depending on the weather, time of day, etc] since the phone lines had been re-routed by the phone company [they were tired of coming out to fix another high noise or outage on my line]. Lucky me, the house I'm renting is at the END of the phone cable. Literally. And because of GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE, even though there's a BUDGET for "undergrounding" the lines [meaning they get REPLACED], the phone company hasn't gotten to "my neighborhood" yet because they *HAVE* *TO* *UPGRADE* *A* *POOR* *NEIGHBORHOOD* *FOR* *EVERY* *MIDDLE* *CLASS* *NEIGHBORHOOD* *THEY* *DO* (because, STUPID POLITICS) so they've put off "undergrounding" for at least 10 years in MY area, and the wires are 50 years old, yotta yotta yotta. you get the idea.

    The ONLY saving grace is that it's CHEAP. The service "was what it was" back in the early 00's, and seemed to be a BETTER deal than 'business cable'. I needed the FIXED IPv4 ADDRESS. So THAT became the determining factor. AND, 15 years later, if it did not cost more than $120/month to upgrade to something BETTER now (like 'business cable'), and I had the $$$ up front and 3 year contract requirement wasn't a problem, I would have DUMPED them already. But the cable company was recently changed from 'Time Warner' to 'Spectrum', and now the DSL service is changing, too. Instability. Yeah.

    Today I'm getting ~800kbits which is "acceptable" for what _I_ normally do. It's PATHETIC by MOST people's standards, sure, but it's what _I_ can get. I don't have DAYS to spend searching for better, either, nor the cash to have a PROPER wire run to a house I'm RENTING. I need to spend my time EARNING MONEY or seeking the opportunity to earn money. So I continue to put up with the BARELY ACCEPTABLE service, and DIETIES HELP ME if I *EVAR* need tech support from Earthlink, or whatever it's called now.

    (at least they support USENET)

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