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EarthLink Expands To Offer Wireless

ATLANTA -The repositioning of two-way pagers as wireless extensions of a user’s primary ISP or corporate e-mail address continued with the announcement that ISP EarthLink will push subscriber e-mail to Motorola’s mass-market-priced Talkabout T900 two-way pager.

EarthLink, rival ISPs, and portals such as Yahoo and AOL already redirect e-mail to more expensive two-way messaging devices made by Research In Motion, but the EarthLink announcement marks the first time that ISP e-mail services will be accessible through a low-cost two-way pager.

EarthLink, the nation’s second largest ISP, will sell the T900 direct to its subscribers at an undisclosed price when it launches the T900 service later in Q1. Although the company didn’t disclose planned T900 or airtime pricing, retailers have promoted the device at $99 after carrier rebates.

Current T900 owners, or people who buy T900s at retail, can also take advantage of the EarthLink service if they are EarthLink subscribers and their T900 is activated on the same network that EarthLink will use, according to two-way communications director Brent Cobb.

EarthLink will enable T900 users to read, forward and reply to messages sent to their EarthLink e-mail address. The header on messages sent from the T900 will displays the user’s EarthLink address. Messages originated on the T900 will also carry the user’s EarthLink address.

The T900 is the third two-way messaging device that EarthLink bundles with its e-mail service, but it’s not the last. “We have other devices we’ll roll out,” said Cobb, which might include wireless phones.

At least for now, EarthLink’s instant messaging (IM) service isn’t available through the T900 or RIM devices because they don’t yet incorporate needed client software, but “we’ll see devices with this [IM] capability in the second quarter,” said Cobb.