Earthlink Still Pushing ASP Initiative

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-12-28

Internet service provider Earthlink Inc. expects to begin trials this spring of selling hosted applications to its small-business broadband customers.

The Atlanta-based ISP, which outlined its proposal in an interview with eWEEK in August 2000, originally planned those trials for last summer. However, a company executive running the project left, and as the economy soured, resources were taken away from the project and put into Earthlinks broadband sales effort, said Michael Ihde, vice president of nationwide business sales at Earthlink.

"Its not so much that it was cancelled. Its still right there in the forefront. I am hoping that this gets rolled out in April or May of this year," Ihde said.

Internet access provides 95 percent of Earthlinks revenue, so it had to be the top priority, he said. But Earthlink would "limit ourselves so dramatically if we dont have" ASP (application service provider) options, Ihde said, adding that a hiring freeze and attrition also hindered the original plan.

Of the seven undisclosed Web hosters and ASPs Earthlink considered partnering with, only two are still in business, Ihde said. One of them is Verio Inc., an Englewood, Colo., subsidiary of Tokyos NTT Communications Corp.

"Weve had discussions with them in one form or another" about 12 to 15 months ago, but those talks may soon be renewed, he said.

The other company Earthlink is considering as a partner is a large services firm, not a traditional ASP, Ihde said, declining to name the company.

Also, he said, Earthlink officials are no longer considering the part of their original plan to offer consumer ASP options. With the rise of services, like Microsoft Corp.s .NET initiative, "I would think wed out of the ballpark if we did that," he said.

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