Earthlink starts wireless service for handhelds

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Earthlink starts wireless service for handhelds By Reuters staff EarthLink Inc. said on Wednesday it has begun offering Internet service to wireless handheld computer users for US$40 to US$60 per month. The company, one of the largest that links consumers’ computers to the Internet, said its wireless e-mail and Internet service will work on several devices powered by Palm Inc.’s Palm OS operating system software and Microsoft Corp.’s PocketPC system. For EarthLink, the service is its first use of assets included in its December acquisition of OmniSky’s subscribers, software and other technology. EarthLink in recent months has added several wireless features to its services, including broadband access via satellite and wireless local area network access, as well as wireless e-mail using devices made by Motorola Inc. and Research In Motion. Devices supported by the new handheld service include several models by Palm, Handspring Inc., Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. To alert handheld buyers about its service, EarthLink plans to bundle its offer with the hardware at retail. After several years of rapid growth, demand for handheld computers slowed in 2001. Companies like Palm and Handspring are banking on wireless models, which can surf the Web and deliver e-mail, to spur consumer interest. Shares of EarthLink were up 2 cents at US$8.60 in late afternoon Nasdaq trade.

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