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EarthLink, Korean Operator Creating New U.S. Wireless Company

EarthLink said Wednesday that it is partnering with Korean wireless operator SK Telecom to create a new wireless operator in the U.S. that will focus on providing advanced Internet services such as streaming multimedia.

The two companies will equally co-own the new venture, which will be called SK-EarthLink. The new company will be a virtual wireless provider, acquiring services from other mobile operators, although the companies did not say from which operator they would acquire the services or when the new service would fully launch.

The executives did say in a Wednesday morning conference call, however, that theirs will be a 3G CDMA network and, in the U.S., the only national carriers offering such service are Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Of those two operators, only Sprint already is providing services to other virtual operators, including AT&T and ESPN. SK Telecom uses CDMA technology in Korea.

Primarily, however, executives in the conference call stressed that the goal of the joint venture is to offer services not currently available in the U.S.

"If you've ever had a chance to visit Korea and Japan and see the plethora of things you can do in the cellular market that don't exist in the U.S., you can bet that some of those that are appropriate are high on the list of things we'll make available to U.S. consumers," Garry Betty, EarthLink's CEO told analysts in a conference call Wednesday morning.

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