National Internet service provider EarthLink today is once again trying to lure Net users dissatisfied with price increases away from its competitors.
When AOL raised its rates, analysts predicted mixed results. Some, they said would follow, while others wouldn't. That's pretty much what has happened.
But AOL and Pac Bell are not in the same position when it comes to the Net. While AOL is far and away the market leader, Pac Bell is relatively small, with only 190,000 customers. Some analysts raised their eyebrows when Pac Bell announced rate hikes, wondering if a company that still needed to grow its Internet presence should be raising prices and capping access.
Online services have long said that they can't support their companies on access charges alone, especially at the $19.95 rate. But they also are banking on other revenues from e-commerce and advertising.
EarthLink, in which Sprint has a 30 percent stake, has been aggressive in trying to grow those categories.
It is clearly choosing to leave its pricing at $19.95 a month, using it as a ploy to snap up members who are unhappy when other companies raise their prices.