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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- Covad DSL.
- 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?)