Business 2.0's Owen Thomas does the math on EarthLink's earnings: The company is still profitable, but is facing small increases in a marginally profitable broadband market (due to incumbent ownership of DSL and cable lines) and large decreases in its dial-up customer base. The company is working hard on quickly building a Wi-Fi infrastructure business, signing (or trying to sign) contacts with cities all over the U.S. to produce a new structure in which they own infrastructure and wholesale it out. Note to incumbents: EarthLink shares.
Analysts question EarthLink's ability to run facilities-based operations, although from my talks with EarthLink, it's clear that they're contracting out the physical part (which is out of their ken) to experienced telecom infrastructure partners, like Motorola. The logical facilities operations is in-house, and that's something they've run since their inception--billing, network operations, services, etc.
The conclusion? "As the cash that flows from dial-up shrinks, for EarthLink, building its own broadband network isn't an experiment - it's a matter of life or death."