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EarthLink Launches Home Networking

EarthLink is launching what it calls the "first nationally available wired and wireless home networking service." Powered by a recent agreement between EarthLink and 2Wire, Inc., EarthLink Home Networking allows EarthLink broadband subscribers to link their computers and peripherals onto a single, shared network. The resulting system will allow families and individuals to use a variety of Internet, telephony and entertainment applications simultaneously.

The new service will be offered as co-branded versions of the San Jose, Calif.-based 2Wire's HomePortal 100 and HomePortal 1000 residential gateways. According to the Yankee Group, 37 percent of broadband households and 29 percent of PC households have multiple PCs. In addition, 42 percent of broadband households and 34 percent of PC households were "very" or "somewhat" interested in home networking.

By plugging the HomePortal into any telephone jack, users gain high-speed Internet connectivity and the ability to network PCs, peripherals and Internet appliances via an Ethernet, home phoneline (HomePNA), or wireless network without adding any additional wiring. The wireless version of EarthLink Home Networking allows wireless connections to multiple computers throughout the home using an integrated WiFi access point. In addition, the HomePortal gateway provides commercial-grade firewall protection, as well as VPN capability and enhanced protection against common Internet attacks.

"We see the networked home as the next 'big thing' in broadband, allowing our broadband subscribers to create true home networks, including printers and other peripherals, and get the most out of their EarthLink broadband connection," said Mike Lunsford, executive vice president of broadband services at the Atlanta-based EarthLink. "In the future, EarthLink Home Networking will also allow us to provide a variety of additional value-added services to our broadband subscribers, like voice over IP and video on demand."

Beginning today, wired and wireless versions of EarthLink Home Networking will be available to all new and existing EarthLink DSL subscribers for $9.95 a month. Users incur a one-time cost of $149.95 for the wired version and $299.95 for the wireless version.

"By combining the versatility and power of our HomePortal residential gateway with EarthLink's lightening-fast broadband services and award-wining Internet tools and support, the consumer will get best-of-breed services in a single, easy-to-use package," said Brian Hinman, president and chief executive officer of 2Wire. "And the versatility of HomePortal means that EarthLink can easily supplement its basic services with future value adds."

EarthLink DSL is currently available in more than 70 major metropolitan markets through more than 2,650 central offices. The company also offers its Internet services through cable, Ricochet and fixed wireless technologies. The company maintains a Web site at http://www.earthlink.net.