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Earthlink Passes 500,000 Member Milestone; Largest Independent Internet Service Provider After Four Years.

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 1, 1998--EarthLink Network Inc. (Nasdaq:ELNK) Wednesday announced it surpassed 500,000 members, further solidifying its position as the largest independent Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the world.

The milestone is largely due to record first-quarter new-member signups totaling nearly 80,000.

EarthLink added more than 190,000 members in 1997 and has achieved more than 40 percent of last year's performance in the first quarter of 1998 alone.

EarthLink doesn't count non-paying trial or complimentary accounts in its member calculations. Members received through EarthLink's recently announced alliance with Sprint were also not counted, and will not be until the Sprint alliance officially closes, which is expected in June.

EarthLink has succeeded largely by focusing on what it calls the "Internet user experience," the activities one does on the Internet that make it valuable. A major component of this experience, and a major focus for EarthLink, has consistently been high-quality technical support and customer service.

Part of this support is proactive -- educating members to make them Internet pros. Then through navigation services such as the Personal Start Page, EarthLink ensures its members get to what they're looking for on the Internet, every time they log on.

EarthLink has also made significant investments in infrastructure, resulting in systems which are operational 99.9 percent of the time. The company has never experienced a major service outage.

"Early on, we focused all of our efforts on making the Internet a friendly, productive place for newcomers, and not just on building big network backbones like our peers," said Sky Dayton, founder and chairman of EarthLink.

"We help our members onto the Internet, and then we make it valuable to them. By assembling an excellent management team and following through with consistent execution, we were able to turn this simple vision into an award-winning service.

"The combination of a robust technical infrastructure and world-class technical support positions EarthLink to continue to provide excellent service as we march deep into the mass market. With only 20 percent of the US household market penetrated(1), the Internet still has a long way to grow."

EarthLink's innovative marketing programs were an important factor in its first quarter success. Consistent with AOL's price hike, EarthLink launched a "Get Out of AOL Free" program aimed at disgruntled AOL customers looking for a new provider.

EarthLink waives its $25 setup fee for ex-AOLers and sends change-of-address notices to their online friends and colleagues. EarthLink also implemented a successful marketing program with SAM'S Club, offering special pricing to all 21.4 million SAM'S Club members.

Dayton added, "Innovative marketing has helped EarthLink reach lots of new members. And our emphasis on great technical assistance and a fast, reliable access has allowed us to keep them."

For additional information about EarthLink and its award-winning Internet access services, call 800/395-8425, or visit www.earthlink.net. For more information on the Get Out of AOL Free program, call 888-QUIT-AOL or visit www.earthlink.net/quitaol.

About EarthLink Network

EarthLink Network is the world's largest independent Internet service provider. Through a full range of innovative access and hosting services, the company makes the Internet relevant and productive to hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses every day.

Headquartered in Pasadena, EarthLink provides local access to thousands of communities from more than 1,115 POPs in North America and 42 internationally. Additional service and pricing information is available by calling 800/395-8425 and through EarthLink's Web site at www.earthlink.net.

(1) IDC, 1998

CONTACT: EarthLink Network Inc., Pasadena

Kirsten Kappos or Kurt Rahn, 626/296-2400

kirstenk@earthlink.net

kurtrahn@earthlink.net

or

Manning Selvage & Lee

Leasa Vignale or Ann Backowski, 213/782-6600

lvignale@mslpr.com

abackows@mslpr.com
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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