EarthLink knows its dial-up market is eroding and DSL is competitive as all heck: Building municipal networks for Philadelphia and others may be part of the evolution of the company. The Wall Street Journal reports that EarthLink has bid on Philadelphia's network as one of 12 firms; Verizon and Comcast decided not to.
Esme Vos at Muniwireless.com has the additional intelligence that EarthLink has been negotiating with New York City to drop their pole fee in order to bid on that potential city-wide network.
The WSJ article has a Comcast spokesperson ridiculing the idea of a lack of competition because prices are falling. But that's not the only reasonable way to measure it. Outside of some major cities, there are monopoly or duopoly DSL and cable offerings. Even in those areas, competitors must pay for access to DSL lines; cable companies have continued to fight any wholesale resale requirement to their competitors.
EarthLink will be put in the position in Philadelphia, at least, of offering wholesale access to the network on behalf of Philadelphia's non-profit that will operate the network. This will make EarthLink a more beneficent (but closely watched) partner to many companies that currently deny them wholesale access to their own networks.