The big merger of EarthLink and MindSpring could create a boon for consumers as Internet service providers scramble to sign them up, analysts said.
The deal makes the combined EarthLink the second largest ISP with about 3 million subscribers, and company officials made it clear that they intend to take on AOL, the leading ISP with nearly 19 million subscribers.
EarthLink, however, will face serious competition from Microsoft Corp.’s MSN service and AT&T Corp.’s WorldNet, which could lead to another round of deals, rebates and discounts for customers.
For AT&T, analysts say the competition could lead to extensive bundling of its telephone and cable properties. Meantime, Microsoft has announced a new search engine for MSN.com and a small-business portal called bCentral.
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