Earthlink launches wireless e-mail service

EarthLink has followed in the steps of America Online Inc. and Yahoo Inc. and kicked off its wireless e-mail service, offering a package of hardware from Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) and unlimited airtime.

EarthLink said in a statement that the package marks the start of its EarthLink Everywhere service, which is designed to provide subscribers with Internet access "no matter where they are -- through both wired and wireless devices and appliances."

Atlanta-based EarthLink will charge subscribers $39.95 per month for unlimited airtime over the BellSouth Corp. wireless data network and $399 for pagers from RIM, in Waterloo, Ontario. EarthLink will also offer users a larger, personal digital assistant-type device from RIM for $499.

Elliott Hamilton, an analyst at Strategis Group in Washington, said Earthlink's entry into the wireless market indicates "that whether you are an ISP or a content provider, you must have a wireless play. and the RIM Blackberry [pager] is popular and successful." Wireless e-mail services provide greater utility for corporate users, Hamilton said, since office e-mail can be easily forwarded to the Blackberry.

AOL launched its AOL Mobile Communicator service last month. It provides e-mail and instant messaging to users of an AOL-branded RIM pager. AOL, in Dulles, Va., will sell pagers for $329.95 and will charge $19.95 per month for the service, which also operates over the BellSouth packet data network. AOL kicked off its instant messaging service on the Sprint PCS network in October.

Yahoo, in Sunnyvale, Calif., started offering e-mail and instant messaging service to RIM pager users earlier last month over a wireless data network operated by Motient Corp. in Reston, Va. The Yahoo/Motient service charges $344 for the pager and $34.95 per month for airtime.

This story, "Earthlink launches wireless e-mail service" was originally published by Computerworld.

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