Tuesday, February 27, 2007

EarthLink ... No Good News from Analysts

Analysts have been beating up ELN due to its losses at Helio [sources: Forbes, Reuters & BizWeek]. Subscriber numbers are declining, enhanced by the termination of ELN's agreement with Embarq. "About 750,000 Embarq DSL customers will lose a part of their online identities this spring, as the local telephone provider ends its email contract with EarthLink." [Teleclick.ca].

Even the Muni Wi-Fi efforts (called Feather) have not had a win - until now: "Southern California Edison Co. has agreed to an EarthLink proposal to build a test network, using Edison's streetlights in Santa Ana" [Muniwireless] But there is still a lot of play left in the Muni space. It will require some Remarkable tactics and strategy. [Call me! I have some ideas for you :)]

With the unexpected and sudden death of their CEO, ELN has some turmoil to deal with.

  1. New Edge just announced its new CEO, Linda Beck. But nothing special has happened at NEN, since ELN bought them in December of 2005. I still wonder why Covad is the network of choice for ELN, when they own NEN ?!! That's no way to instill consumer confidence.
  2. Helio has Sky Dayton at the helm. He was a founder of ELN and Boingo Wireless. (He isn't going to give up the ship just because of a few hundred million in losses). Helio should be pushing their Hybrid plan: $85 per month for unlimited 3G + Boingo wi-fi access. You pay VZW $60 - and it ain't unlimited either (as you and I define the term).
  3. Broadband on MSO and RBOC networks is still chugging along, as a replacement for the declining dial-up market. (Although they just dis-Embarq-ed).
  4. ELN still has hosting -- and that is a growth market. And with the addition of WordPress and a Blogger conversion process, it should pick up.
  5. Covad DSL.
  6. VOIP - Covad line-powered VoIP with Covad DSL and ELN TrueVoice.

It is kind of funny that the one thing ELN was known for, they seem to be failing at: MARKETING. Most jobs at ELN until mid-2006 were Customer Care or Marketing. But ELN needs to improve its marketing of its catalog, especially Helio. Advertising DSL where you just turned up a Muni Wi-Fi network (see Alexandria) is not a profitable use of funds and / or efforts. Now, if you were offering a bundle: VoIP, DSL and Wi-Fi --- that would be something. Plus ELN has outsourced marketing of its VoIP service to TMone.

One issue is that many departments are at odds - DSL, cable, Muni, Covad, NEN. All have numbers to reach, but may have to cannabilize each other to hit those numbers. Not a good internal team strategy. But again: that's just marketing -- internal marketing, but marketing. Everyone has to be on the same plan -- working towards the same goal, same mission, and no one left behind.

A final issue that all ISP's are facing: how to deliver email effectively. There are many complaints about ELN's spam filtering. I have more than 10 email accounts scattered through different hosts - no 2 filter the same. Some too much; some not enough. It is a problem. (What happened to disposable email addresses to thwart spam?)

1 comment:

NSP Strategist said...

ELN just switched spyware providers from Webroot to Aluria. [Source] ELN owns Aluria.