10-K 1 a2202265z10-k.htm 10-K

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K


ý

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010

OR

o

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from to

Commission File Number: 001-15605

EARTHLINK, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware
(State of incorporation)
  58-2511877
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

1375 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Georgia 30309
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

(404) 815-0770
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)

        Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None

        Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: Common Stock, $.01 par value



        Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ý    No o

        Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes o    No ý

        Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ý    No o

        Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ý    No o

        Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation of S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o

        Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definition of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the of the Exchange Act (Check One):

Large accelerated filer ý   Accelerated filer o   Non-accelerated filer o
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
  Smaller Reporting Company o

        Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o    No ý

        The aggregate market value of the registrant's outstanding common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2010 was $854.2 million. As of January 31, 2011, 108,421,272 shares of common stock were outstanding.

        Portions of the Proxy Statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and to be used in connection with the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on May 3, 2011 are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.


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EARTHLINK, INC.
Annual Report on Form 10-K
For the Year Ended December 31, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I

 

Item 1.

 

Business

   
1
 

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

   
22
 

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

   
39
 

Item 2.

 

Properties

   
39
 

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

   
40
 

Item 4.

 

(Removed and Reserved)

   
40
 

PART II

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

   
41
 

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

   
43
 

Item 7.

 

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

   
45
 

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

   
76
 

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

   
78
 

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

   
128
 

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

   
128
 

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

   
128
 

PART III

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

   
129
 

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

   
129
 

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

   
129
 

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

   
130
 

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

   
130
 

PART IV

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

   
131
 

SIGNATURES

   
136
 

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FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

        Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The words "estimate," "plan," "intend," "expect," "anticipate," "believe" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are found at various places throughout this report. EarthLink, Inc. disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Although EarthLink, Inc. believes that its expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its targets and goals will be achieved. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ from estimates or projections contained in the forward-looking statements are described under "Risk Factors" in Item 1A of Part I and under "Safe Harbor Statement" in Item 7 of Part II.


PART I

Item 1.    Business.

Overview

        EarthLink, Inc., together with its consolidated subsidiaries, provides a comprehensive suite of communications services to individual and business customers. We operate two reportable segments, Consumer Services and Business Services. Our Consumer Services segment provides nationwide Internet access and related value-added services to individual customers. These services include dial-up and high-speed Internet access services, ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, search and advertising. Our Business Services segment provides integrated communications and related value-added services to businesses, enterprise organizations and communications carriers. These services include data services, including managed IP-based network services and broadband Internet access services; voice services, including local exchange, long-distance and conference calling; mobile data and voice services; and web hosting. We provide our consumer services primarily through third-party telecommunications service providers, and we provide our business services primarily through a nationwide fiber optic-based network utilizing Multi-Protocol Label Switching ("MPLS") and other technologies and a 14-state fiber optic network. We also sell transmission capacity to other communications providers on a wholesale basis. For further information concerning our business segments, see Note 18, "Segment Information," of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of Part II.

        During 2010, we entered into two transactions that we believe will transform our business from being primarily an Internet services provider ("ISP") to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. The transactions will allow us to offer a more robust suite of business services, including data, voice and video, and to create more scale in the markets we serve. In December 2010, we completed the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, Inc. ("ITC^DeltaCom"), a provider of integrated communications services to customers in the southeastern U.S. We acquired 100% of ITC^DeltaCom in a merger transaction valued at approximately $524 million, with ITC^DeltaCom surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of EarthLink, Inc. ITC^DeltaCom is included in our Business Services segment. Also in December 2010, we entered into an agreement to acquire One Communications Corp. ("One Communications"), a privately-held integrated telecommunications solutions provider serving customers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest. Under the terms of the merger agreement, we will acquire 100% of One Communications in a merger transaction valued at approximately $370 million with One Communications surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of EarthLink, Inc. The completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011.

        We were incorporated in 1999 as a Delaware corporation and EarthLink, Inc. was formed in February 2000 as a result of the merger of EarthLink Network, Inc. and MindSpring Enterprises, Inc. Our corporate

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offices are located at 1375 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Georgia 30309, and our telephone number at that location is (404) 815-0770.

Business Strategy

        Our primary business strategy is to transition our business to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. We also continue to focus on optimizing our Consumer Services segment operations, maintaining our operational efficiency and pursuing potential strategic acquisitions.

        Transitioning to a Leading IP Infrastructure and Managed Services Provider.    We are focused on transitioning our company to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. We plan to combine our existing business services with the integrated communications businesses of our recent acquisition, ITC^DeltaCom, and our pending acquisition, One Communications, and offer a comprehensive suite of business services under a new brand, EarthLink BusinessTM. We are focused on combining our service offerings and sales forces, expanding service offerings that will be attractive to multi-location business customers, promoting awareness of our new brand and integrating our acquisitions to achieve operating synergies, cost savings and revenue enhancements. These recent acquisitions will allow us to continue to offer a bundled package of value-added communications services to our business customers, which we believe is an attractive means of delivering communications solutions, thereby increasing retention rates and limiting customer churn. We believe this transition supports our long-term strategic direction and will further our objectives of strengthening our competitive position, expanding our customer base, providing greater scale to accelerate innovation, providing our employees with an attractive career path and increasing stockholder value.

        Optimizing our Consumer Services Segment Operations.    In our Consumer Services segment, we remain focused on retaining our customers and building long-term customer relationships based on customized service offerings and superior customer service. We believe focusing on the customer relationship increases loyalty and reduces churn. Satisfied customers provide cost benefits, including reduced contact center support costs and reduced bad debt expense. We continue to focus on offering our services with high-quality customer service and technical support. We also continue to seek to add customers that generate an acceptable rate of return, including through alliances, partnerships and acquisitions from other ISPs. We also intend to continue to use cash generated from our Consumer Services operations to fund growth under our acquisition strategy in our Business Services segment.

        Maintaining our Operational Efficiency.    Our operating framework includes a disciplined focus on operational efficiency. In our Consumer Services segment, we intend to continue to improve the cost structure of our business, without impacting the quality of services we provide. In our Business Services segment, we intend to use this disciplined focus on operational efficiency to create synergies from our recent and potential future acquisitions. We also plan to continue to implement cost reduction initiatives and to manage our business more efficiently, including outsourcing certain functions, managing our network costs, consolidating or closing certain facilities, implementing workforce reduction initiatives, reducing and more efficiently handling the number of calls to contact centers and streamlining our internal processes and operations.

        Pursuing Potential Strategic Acquisitions.    In addition to the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and the pending acquisition of One Communications, we will continue to evaluate and consider other potential strategic transactions that we believe will complement our business. We have recently entered into an agreement to acquire Saturn Telecommunication Services Inc. ("STS Telecom"), a privately-held company that operates a sophisticated VoIP platform that we plan to leverage on a nationwide basis as part of our Business Service offerings. Our acquisition strategy may also include investment in additional network depth in geographic areas that complement our recently acquired fiber network or acquiring customers within our network to create more scale.

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        The primary challenges we face in executing our business strategy for our Business Services segment are continuing to develop new profitable managed services offerings that will be attractive to multi-location customers, successfully integrating our acquisitions to achieve expected synergies and cost savings, responding to competitive and economic pressures in the communications industry and adapting to regulatory changes and initiatives. The primary challenges we face in executing our business strategy for our Consumer Service segment are managing the rate of decline in our consumer revenues, implementing outsourcing and other cost-saving initiatives, and operating our network cost-effectively, including network services purchased from third-party telecommunications service providers. The factors we believe are instrumental to the achievement of our business strategy may be subject to competitive, regulatory and other events and circumstances that are beyond our control. Further, we can provide no assurance that we will be successful in achieving any or all of the strategies identified above, that the achievement or existence of such strategies will favorably impact profitability, or that other factors will not arise that would adversely affect future profitability.

Consumer Services Segment

        Our Consumer Services segment provides nationwide Internet access and related value-added services to individual customers. We derived approximately 74% of our revenues during the year ended December 31, 2010 from our Consumer Services segment. We expect this percentage to decrease as our Business Services segment comprises a larger portion of our overall business and as the market for consumer Internet access continues to mature.

Services

        Narrowband Access.    We offer premium dial-up, or narrowband, access that provides customers with access to the Internet and a wide variety of content, features, services, applications, tools and technical and customer support. Such features and services include email, a customizable start page, antivirus protection and acceleration tools. We also offer value-priced dial-up access through our PeoplePCTM Online offering that provides customers with access to the Internet at comparatively lower prices. Narrowband access revenues primarily consist of fees charged to customers for dial-up Internet access.

        Broadband Access.    High-speed, or broadband, access offers a high speed, always on Internet connection that uses a modem to supply an Internet connection across an existing home phone line or cable connection. The Internet service does not interfere with a customer's voice service, so there is no need for a second phone line. We provide high-speed access services primarily via cable, and to a lesser extent via DSL, and offer different speeds of service. Availability for these services depends on the cable or telephone service provider. Our high-speed access service includes many of the same features and benefits included with our premium dial-up access service, including email, a customizable start page, antivirus and firewall protection, and technical and customer support. Broadband access revenues primarily consist of fees charged for high-speed access services.

        Consumer VoIP.    We provide two voice-over-Internet-Protocol ("VoIP") services. We offer a bundle of services that includes high-speed Internet access and home phone service. It combines the last mile of traditional telephone copper wiring with the advanced features of VoIP by taking advantage of Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer, or DSLAM, technology. We currently offer this service in 12 markets in the U.S. We also provide Internet-based phone service that enables our customers to make and receive phone calls with a telephone in any location where our broadband Internet access is available. We transmit these calls using VoIP technology, which converts voice signals into digital data packets for transmission over the Internet. We offer subscription-based service under various plans that include features such as voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding and E911 service. Revenues primarily consist of fees charged to customers for VoIP service plans.

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        Value-Added Services.    We also offer other services which are incremental to our Internet access services described above. Our value-added services portfolio includes products for protection, communication and performance, such as security products, premium email only, home networking, email storage and Internet call waiting, among others. We offer free and fee-based value-added services to both subscribers and non-subscribers. We also generate advertising revenues by leveraging the value of our customer base and user traffic; through paid placements for searches, powered by the GoogleTM search engine; from fees generated through revenue sharing arrangements with online partners whose products and services can be accessed through our web properties; from commissions received from partners for the sale of partners' services to our subscribers; and from sales of advertising on our various web properties.

Sales and Distribution

        In response to changes in our business and industry, we have significantly reduced our Consumer Services segment sales and marketing spending over the past three years. Our marketing efforts are currently focused on retaining customers and adding customers through alliances and partnerships that generate an acceptable rate of return. We offer our products and services primarily through direct customer contact through our call centers, search engine marketing, affinity marketing partners, resellers and marketing alliances such as our relationship with Time Warner Cable.

Customer Service and Retention

        We believe that quality customer service and technical support increase customer satisfaction, which reduces churn. We also believe that satisfied customers provide cost benefits, including reduced contact center support costs and reduced bad debt expense. We provide high-quality customer service, invest in loyalty and retention efforts and continually monitor customer satisfaction for our services. Our customer support is available by chat and phone as well as through help sites and Internet guide files on our web sites. We have been recognized historically by customer service and marketing organizations for ranking high in customer satisfaction for our dial-up and high-speed Internet services.

        In addition to our customer support, our tools offer protection against viruses, spyware, spam and pop-ups, as well as dial-up Web acceleration. We believe that providing these tools also increases customer satisfaction and reduces churn.

Network Infrastructure

        We provide subscribers with Internet access primarily through third-party network service providers. Our principal provider for narrowband services is Level 3 Communications, Inc. ("Level 3"). Our agreement with Level 3 expires in December 2011. We also have agreements with certain regional and local narrowband providers.

        We have agreements with Time Warner Cable that allow us to provide broadband services over Time Warner Cable's and Bright House Networks' cable network in substantially all their markets and with Comcast Corporation ("Comcast") that allow us to provide broadband services over Comcast's cable network in certain Comcast markets. We have agreements with AT&T Corp. ("AT&T"), Covad Communications Company ("Covad"), Qwest Communications Corporation ("Qwest") and Verizon Internet Services, Inc. that allow us to provide DSL services. We rely on Covad's line-powered voice access

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to provide our VoIP bundle home phone service. The following summarizes the contract expiration dates for our largest providers of broadband access:

Broadband Network Provider
  Contract Expiration
Verizon Internet Services, Inc.    March 2011
Qwest Communications   November 2012
Corporation Comcast Corporation   December 2012
Covad Communications Company   December 2012
AT&T Corp.    February 2013
Time Warner Cable   November 2013

        We maintain a leased backbone consisting of a networked loop of connections between multiple cities and our technology centers. We maintain data centers in two locations to provide service availability and connectivity. However, we are currently evaluating consolidating our data centers.

Competition

        We operate in the Internet access services market, which is extremely competitive. We compete directly or indirectly with established online services companies, such as AOL and Microsoft; national communications companies and local exchange carriers, such as AT&T, Qwest and Verizon Communication, Inc. ("Verizon"); cable companies providing broadband access, including Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Inc. and Time Warner Cable; local and regional ISPs; free or value-priced ISPs, such as United Online, Inc., which provides service under the brands Juno and NetZero; wireless Internet service providers; content companies and email service providers, such as Google and Yahoo!; and satellite and fixed wireless service providers. Competitors for our consumer VoIP services include established telecommunications and cable companies; ISPs; leading Internet companies; and companies that offer VoIP services as their primary business, such as Vonage. Competitors for our advertising services include major ISPs, content providers, large web publishers, web search engine and portal companies, Internet advertising providers, content aggregation companies, social-networking web sites and various other companies that facilitate Internet advertising. Competition in the market for Internet access services is likely to continue increasing, and competition could cause us to decrease the pricing of our services, increase churn of our existing customers, increase operating costs or decrease the number of subscribers we are able to add.

        We believe the primary competitive factors in the Internet access service industry are price, speed, features, coverage area and quality of service. While we believe our Internet access services compete favorably based on some of these factors when compared to some Internet access providers, we are at a competitive disadvantage relative to some or all of these factors with respect to other of our competitors. Current and potential competitors include many large companies that have substantially greater market presence and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we have. Our dial-up Internet access services do not compete favorably with broadband services with respect to speed, and dial-up Internet access services no longer have a significant, if any, price advantage over certain broadband services. Most of the largest providers of broadband services, such as cable and telecommunications companies, control their own networks and offer a wider variety of services than we offer, including voice, data and video services. Their ability to bundle services and to offer broadband services at prices below the price that we can profitably offer comparable services puts us at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, our only significant access to offer broadband services over cable is through our agreement with Time Warner Cable.

        We experience pricing pressures for certain of our consumer Internet access services, particularly our consumer broadband services, due to competition, volume-based pricing and other factors. Some providers, including AT&T, have reduced and may continue to reduce the retail price of their Internet access services to maintain or increase their market share, which could cause us to reduce, or prevent us

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from raising, our prices. We may encounter further market pressures to: migrate existing customers to lower-priced service offerings; restructure service offerings to offer more value; reduce prices; and respond to particular short-term, market-specific situations, such as special introductory pricing or new product or service offerings.

Business Services Segment

        Our Business Services segment provides integrated communications services and related value-added services to businesses, enterprise organizations and communications carriers. Prior to our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, our Business Services segment primarily consisted of our New Edge Networks subsidiary, which provides managed IP-based network solutions to businesses nationwide. We also provide Internet access and web hosting services to small to mid-sized businesses. With the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we have expanded our service offerings to include voice services and are able to offer our existing service offerings over a broader geographical area. In addition, we now own a fiber network that we can use to offer new services. We derived approximately 26% of our revenues during the year ended December 31, 2010 from our Business Services segment. This percentage will increase as our integrated communications services business grows through the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, our pending acquisition of One Communications and other potential future acquisitions.

Services

        Our business services include data services, including managed IP-based network services and broadband Internet access services; voice services, including local exchange, long-distance and conference calling; mobile data and voice services; and web hosting. We provide our services to end user business customers and to wholesale customers. Our end users range from large enterprises with many locations, to small and medium-sized multi-site businesses to business customers with one site. Our wholesale customers consist primarily of telecommunications carriers and network resellers.

Bundled Services Approach

        When financially advantageous for us to do so, we seek to bundle the integrated communications services we provide in our 14-state fiber optic network together with communications devices, related installation and maintenance service, and managed network services. Our targeted customers often will have multiple vendors for voice and data communications services, as well as additional vendors for communication devices, each of which may bill the customer separately. We offer a comprehensive package of local telephone, long distance, Internet access and other integrated communications services. We are able to leverage our experience in providing and maintaining customer premises equipment as well as relationships with leading manufacturers to provide our customers with access to a range of remotely managed office communication devices. We believe that our bundle of services provides an attractive means of delivering communications solutions.

Integrated Communications Services

        Secure IP-based networks.    We provide IP-based networks for business customers. Customers can choose a blend of access technologies including DSL, T-1 and DS3 lines, Ethernet and wireless broadband. We offer MPLS-based services, which enables businesses to combine a variety of applications of their choice on a single network to optimize bandwidth and provide reliable network performance. Customers can also use class of service ("CoS") tagging of MPLS network traffic, to prioritize which of their applications should move across the network ahead of others. Customer applications run on our mix of internal and public Internet links. Revenues consist of fees charged for managed IP-based networks, installation fees, termination fees, fees for equipment and cost recovery fees billed to customers.

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        Virtual private networks ("VPN").    VPNs are secure networks that link multiple customer locations by using computer software to dedicated circuits solely for the customer's use, instead of building a physical circuit to each customer location. We offer VPN solutions that provide businesses with a cost-effective means of creating their own secure networks for their traveling workforce, telecommuters and remote offices. Revenues consist of fees charged for access technologies, installation fees, termination fees, fees for equipment and cost recovery fees billed to customers.

        Internet Access.    We provide dial-up, high-speed and dedicated Internet access for business customers. We offer various speeds, reliable connectivity, business-class features like static IP addresses, multiple email accounts and customer service that is available 24/7. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees, installation fees and usage fees.

        Local Telephone Services.    We offer basic local dial tone service, as well as a wide range of local services, including premium local voice services, such as voicemail, universal messaging and directory assistance. We also offer all local CLASS (Custom Local Area Signaling Services) features, such as call forwarding, return call, hunting, call pick-up, repeat dialing and speed dialing services. We provide our local services primarily over digital T-1 transmission lines, which have 24 available channels. We also provide various protocol options, including primary rate interface, or PRI, lines, which have 24 channels, of which 23 are voice channels. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees and usage fees.

        Long Distance Services.    We offer both domestic and international switched and dedicated long distance services, including "1+" outbound dialing, inbound toll-free and calling card services. We generally sell our long distance services as part of a bundle that includes one or more of our local services offerings, our other network service offerings and/or our integrated solutions offerings. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees and usage fees.

        Enhanced Services.    We offer conference calling services, including toll-free and operator-assisted access, sub-conferencing and transcription service, and enhanced calling card services, which provide features such as voicemail and faxmail, voice-activated speed dialing, conference calling and network voice messaging. We also provide customized solutions tailored to the customer's needs through a network system, referred to as an "intelligent peripheral," that facilitates flexible interactions between the user and a network. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees.

        Access Trunks.    We offer access trunks to customers that own and operate switching equipment on their own premises. The trunks enable the switching equipment of our customers to be connected to our network over a digital T-1 transmission line. These connections provide customers with local and long distance calling capacity on any of the T-1's 24 available channels. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees and usage fees.

        Private Line Services.    We offer private line services that provide dedicated communications connections between two of our end-user customer's locations to transmit voice, video or data in a variety of bandwidths. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees.

        ATM/Frame Relay Services.    We provide high-bandwidth, low-delay, connection-oriented switching and multiplexing techniques for data transfer, which are known as asynchronous transfer mode, or ATM, services to some of our customers. ATM allows for the efficient, simultaneous high-speed transfer of voice, data and video, meeting a variety of "Quality of Service" objectives. We provide frame relay services to some of our customers on various network elements and switching platforms. These services provide an efficient method of data transport at speeds equivalent to those available over a digital T-1 transmission line. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees.

        Mobile Data and Voice.    We provide mobile data and voice services as a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, using the network of a nationwide wireless services provider that employs code division multiple-access, or CDMA, technology. Our mobile services provide nationwide mobile access to

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voice, e-mail, text and Internet connectivity. Our customers can select cell phones and personal digital assistants, or PDAs, from leading manufacturers and use our hosted e-mail exchange services to integrate office-based e-mail, calendar and contacts programs with the mobile devices. We offer the service only to customers who also purchase one of our other integrated communications services, providing a convenient single point of contact for our customer's communications needs with a single monthly statement. Revenues primarily consist of monthly recurring fees and usage fees.

        Other Services.    We offer a variety of other services that eliminate the inconvenience and complexity of managing multiple carrier relationships, technologies and geographic locations. These services enable our business customers to focus on their core business while we manage the network infrastructure. We believe our customers benefit from one seamless network, one provider and one point of contact for their total connection needs. These services include installation programs, managed network services, remote access and disaster recovery, among others. We also sell, install and perform on-site maintenance of equipment, such as telephones and private branch exchanges, or PBX. We offer these services in all of the markets in which we offer integrated communications services. Revenues consist of monthly recurring fees, installation fees, termination fees and fees for equipment.

Wholesale Services

        Through our ITC^DeltaCom subsidiary, Interstate FiberNet, we provide voice and data services to other communications carriers and to larger-scale providers of network capacity. Revenues from these services are generated from sales to a limited number of other communications companies, including incumbent local exchange carriers ("ILECs"), competitive local exchange carriers ("CLECs"), wireless service providers, cable companies, ISPs and other carriers. Revenues consist of fees charged for network services, termination fees, fees for equipment and usage fees.

        We offer the following services to some or all of our wholesale customers:

    Broadband transport services, including private line services, Ethernet private line services and wavelength services, that allow other communications providers to transport the traffic of their end-user or wholesale customers across our local and intercity network;

    Local communications services to ISPsand local dial tone communications services to other competitive exchange carriers;

    Nationwide live and automated operator and directory assistance services; and

    Dedicated Internet access services through our IP network and our direct connectivity to the IP networks of other ISPs.

Web Hosting

        We lease server space and provide web hosting services that enable customers to build and maintain an effective online presence. Features include domain names, storage, mailboxes, software tools to build websites, e-commerce applications and 24/7 customer support. Revenues primarily consist of fees charged to customers for web hosting packages and domain registration fees.

Sales and Distribution

        Subsequent to the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we rebranded our business services as EarthLink Business. We also rebranded the ITC^DeltaCom wholesale business as Interstate FiberNet, an EarthLink Business company. Our current marketing strategy is to create brand awareness and develop a comprehensive suite of services to offer our customers. We seek to enhance our communications services by offering comprehensive bundling of services and deploying new technologies to further enhance

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customer loyalty. We are also focused on acquiring medium-sized and enterprise customers who have significant communications needs and purchase high-margin, value-added services and solutions.

        We provide our integrated communications services through two primary sales channels, direct sales and independent dealers and sales agents. Our direct sales force is composed of sales personnel, technical consultants and technicians. We provide our customers with a point of contact, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to support all of the services they receive from us.

        We have an established network of independent dealers and agents to market our integrated communications services and equipment sales and related services. We employ dealer sales management strategically located in our direct sales offices to manage our independent dealer and agent sales forces. Our dealer sales management is responsible for recruiting new dealers to market our services and supporting new sales made by the dealers. As with our direct sales force, our independent dealers and agents have access to our technical consultants and technicians for sales support, as well as to our dedicated dealer support team, which provides order management and issue resolution services to our dealers. This access enables our dealers and agents to be more effective in their sales efforts and ultimately to present a more attractive bundle of services for the customer. Our authorized dealers and agents receive commissions based on services sold, usage volume and customer retention.

        We market our wholesale services through a dedicated direct sales force. We generally enter into master service agreements with our wholesale services customers that have terms ranging from one to five years. Our wholesale customers purchase the capacity they require under the terms specified in the master agreements.

Customer Service and Retention

        We seek to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by building long-term customer relationships based on customized service offerings and personalized customer service. Our collaborative sales approach allows our sales force to offer product bundles that meet the particular needs of each prospective and current customer. We believe that offering a bundled package of value-added communications services to our business customers is an attractive means of delivering communications solutions, thereby increasing retention rates and limiting customer churn. We are also seeking to improve customer response times through internal training programs and integrated billing, support and sales systems. We reinforce our strategy through compensation programs that reward our sales and account management staff based on customer retention and revenue growth.

Network Infrastructure

        We provide our integrated communications services through a nationwide fiber optic-based network utilizing MPLS and other technologies, a 14-state fiber optic network and switching and colocation facilities.

        Nationwide MPLS Network.    Our nationwide fiber optic-based MPLS network is comprised of a mix of ATM and IP switches in locations across the U.S. We have access under wholesale agreements to extend our footprint where we do not have a physical presence. We have interconnection agreements with all major local exchange carriers to lease unbundled network elements, as well as commercial services agreements with national communications companies, CLECs, and cable and wireless service providers to provide last mile access to our customers and connectivity onto our network.

        Fiber Optic Network.    With the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we obtained an advanced fiber optic network, which consisted of 16,504 route miles (12,559 miles owned or obtained through indefeasible rights to use and 3,945 miles marketed and managed) as of December 31, 2010 that extended from New York to Florida and from Georgia to Texas, and principally covered portions of ITC^DeltaCom's primary eight-state market. The network was built or acquired through direct construction and long-term dark fiber

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leases or indefeasible rights-of-use agreements. As of December 31, 2010, ITC^DeltaCom's network extended to over 200 points of presence. These points of presence are located in most major population centers in the areas covered by the fiber optic network and in a significant number of smaller towns and communities. The network included 44 completed metro fiber rings.

        We have implemented electronic redundancy over a portion of our network, which enables traffic to be rerouted to another fiber in the same fiber sheath in the event of a partial fiber cut or electronic failure. In addition, as of December 31, 2010, approximately 74% of ITC^DeltaCom's network traffic was protected by geographical diverse routing, a network design also called a "self-healing ring," which enables traffic to be rerouted in the event of a total cable cut to an entirely different fiber optic cable.

        Switching and Colocation Facilities.    With the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we also obtained a number of switching facilities. The network design, together with interconnection agreements with the incumbent local telephone companies, such as AT&T, enables us to be a facilities-based provider of local and long distance telephone services in all of our markets. Switches are the primary electronic components that connect customers to our network and transmit data and voice communications over our network. As of December 31, 2010, our switching facilities for voice communications consisted of eleven Nortel DMS-500 switch sites, two Nortel Call Server 2000 IP switch sites and seven Alcatel-Lucent 5E switch sites. All of the switches are capable of handling both data and local and long distance voice traffic.

        We have colocated communications equipment within the central offices of incumbent local telephone companies in various markets in the southern United States. Colocation enables us to provide remote facilities-based local and long distance services in markets where we do not have switches, by using our switches in other locations as hosts. To provide these remote services, we use our fiber optic network and leased facilities to connect our remote equipment to our switches when it is economically and operationally advantageous for us to do so.

        Our network backbone enables us to offer high-quality wavelength, Ethernet, synchronous optical network, or SONET, Internet access and virtual private networking services. The packet-switching portion of our network backbone is based upon Internet Protocol, which is a broadly deployed standards-based protocol that allows for the exchange of data between computer networks. The network infrastructure is built on our high speed Infinera-based wavelength division multiplexing, or WDM, platform and Cisco core routers.

Competition

        Integrated Communications.    The communications industry is highly competitive, and we expect this competition to intensify. These markets are rapidly changing due to industry consolidation, an evolving regulatory environment and the emergence of new technologies. We compete directly or indirectly with ILECs, such as AT&T, Qwest, Windstream Corporation ("Windstream") and Verizon; other competitive telecommunications companies, such as Covad, Level 3, PAETEC and XO Holdings; interexchange carriers, such as Global Crossing and Sprint Nextel; wireless and satellite service providers; cable service providers, such as Charter Communications, Inc., Comcast, Cox Communications, Inc. and Time Warner Cable; and stand-alone VoIP providers. Competition could adversely impact us in several ways, including (i) the loss of customers and resulting revenue, (ii) the possibility of customers reducing their usage of our services or shifting to less profitable services, (iii) reduced traffic on our networks, (iv) our need to expend substantial time or money on new capital improvement projects, (v) our need to lower prices or increase marketing expenses to remain competitive, and (vi) our inability to diversify by successfully offering new products or services.

        We believe the primary competitive factors in the communications industry include price, availability, reliability of service, network security, variety of service offerings, quality of service and reputation of the service provider. While we believe our business services compete favorably based on some of these factors, we are at a competitive disadvantage relative to some or all of these factors with respect to some of our

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competitors. Many of our current and potential competitors have greater market presence, engineering, technical and marketing capabilities and financial, personnel and other resources substantially greater than ours; own larger and more diverse networks; are subject to less regulation; or have substantially stronger brand names. In addition, industry consolidation has resulted in larger competitors that have greater economies of scale. Consequently, these competitors may be better equipped to charge lower prices for their products and services, to provide more attractive offerings, to develop and expand their communications and network infrastructures more quickly, to adapt more swiftly to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements and to devote greater resources to the marketing and sale of their products and services.

        We expect to continue to face significant pricing and product competition from AT&T and other ILECs that are or become the dominant providers of telecommunications services in our markets. We may be required to reduce further some or all of the prices we charge for our retail local, long distance and data services as a result of the mergers of BellSouth, SBC and AT&T and of MCI and Verizon which have increased substantially their respective market power; the increase of cable companies, wireless carriers and providers of alternative forms of communication that rely on VoIP or similar applications; recent regulatory decisions that have decreased regulatory oversight of incumbent local telephone companies; and new broadband providers with cost structures lower than ours as a result of governmental subsidies. As a result, we may be required to reduce further some or all of the prices we charge for our retail local, long distance and data services which could adversely affect our revenues, cash flows and results of operations.

        Web Hosting.    The web hosting market is highly fragmented, has low barriers to entry and is characterized by considerable competition on price and features. We compete directly or indirectly with a number of companies, such as GoDaddy.com, Rackspace Hosting, Inc., Web.com and Yahoo!. Some of these companies have substantially greater market presence and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we have. Competition could cause us to decrease the pricing of our services, increase churn of our existing customers, increase operating costs or decrease the number of subscribers we are able to add, which would result in lower revenues, profits and cash flows.

Regulatory Environment

        Our services are subject to varying degrees of federal, state and local regulation and, in light of our recent and pending acquisitions and the growth of our Business Services segment, will be more affected by regulation than in the past. Federal, state and local regulations governing our services are the subject of ongoing judicial proceedings, rulemakings and legislative initiatives, that could change the manner in which our industry operates and affect our business.

Overview

        Through our wholly-owned subsidiaries, we hold numerous federal and state regulatory authorizations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exercises jurisdiction over telecommunications common carriers to the extent that they provide, originate or terminate interstate or international communications. The FCC also establishes rules and has other authority over some issues related to local telephone competition. State regulatory commissions retain jurisdiction over telecommunications carriers to the extent that they provide, originate or terminate intrastate communications. State commissions also have authority to review and approve interconnection agreements between incumbent telephone carriers and competitive carriers such as us, and to conduct arbitration of disputes arising in the negotiation of such agreements. Local governments may require us to obtain licenses, permits or franchises to use the public rights-of-way necessary to install and operate our network.

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        The regulatory environment relating to our Business Services segment continues to evolve. Bills intended to amend the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ("Communications Act") are introduced in Congress from time to time and their effect on us and the communications industry cannot always be predicted. Proposed legislation, if enacted, could have a significant effect on our business, particularly if the legislation impairs our ability to interconnect with incumbent carrier networks, lease portions of other carriers' networks or resell their services at reasonable prices, or lease elements of networks of the ILECs under acceptable rates, terms and conditions. We cannot predict the outcome of any ongoing legislative initiatives or administrative or judicial proceedings or their potential impact upon the communications and information technology industries generally or upon us specifically. We are also subject to a variety of local regulations in each of the geographic markets in which we operate.

Federal Regulation

        Several of our operating subsidiaries are classified as non-dominant carriers by the FCC and, as a result, the prices, terms and conditions of our interstate and international services are subject to relatively limited FCC regulation. Like all common carriers, we are subject to the general requirement that our charges, practices and classifications for communications services must be "just and reasonable," and that we refrain from engaging in any "unjust or unreasonable discrimination" with respect to our charges, practices or classifications. The FCC must grant its approval before any change in control of any carrier providing interstate or international services, or of any entity controlling such a carrier, and before the assignment of any authorizations held by such a carrier. We have the operating authority required by the FCC to conduct our long distance business as it is currently conducted. As a non-dominant carrier, we may install and operate additional facilities for the transmission of domestic interstate communications without prior FCC authorization, except to the extent that radio licenses are required. The following discussion summarizes some specific areas of federal regulation that directly or indirectly affect our business.

        Local Competition.    The Communications Act preempts state and local laws to the extent that they prevent competition in the provisioning of any telecommunications service. The Communications Act imposes a variety of duties on local carriers, including competitive carriers such as us, to promote competition in the provisioning of local telephone services. These duties include requirements for local carriers to:

    interconnect with other telecommunications carriers;

    establish compensation arrangements for the completion of telecommunications service calls originated by customers of other carriers on a reciprocal basis;

    permit the resale of their services;

    permit users to retain their telephone numbers when changing carriers; and

    provide competing carriers access to poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way at regulated prices.

        Incumbent carriers are subject to additional duties. These duties include obligations of incumbent carriers to:

    offer interconnection at any feasible point in their networks on a non-discriminatory basis;

    offer colocation of competitors' equipment at their premises on a non-discriminatory basis;

    make available some of their network facilities, features and capabilities, referred to as Unbundled Network Elements, or UNEs, on non-discriminatory, cost-based terms; and

    offer wholesale versions of their retail services for resale at discounted rates.

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        Collectively, these requirements recognize that local telephone service competition is dependent upon cost-based and non-discriminatory interconnection with, and use of, some elements of incumbent carrier networks and facilities under specified circumstances. Failure to achieve and maintain such arrangements could have a material adverse effect on our ability to provide competitive local telephone services.

        Over the past decade, decisions of federal courts and the FCC have narrowed significantly the scope of the facilities that incumbent telephone companies must make available UNEs to competitive carriers such as us at rates based on the Total Element Long Run Incremental Cost, or TELRIC, standard. Incumbent carriers must offer access to their copper loops and subloops, but must offer access to certain higher-capacity DS1 and DS3 transmission facilities only in wire center serving areas with relatively few business lines and colocated competitive carriers, as defined by detailed FCC regulations. In general, incumbent companies are not required to offer UNEs at TELRIC-based rates for fiber loops, DS1 and DS3 transmission facilities in relatively large wire centers or wire centers deemed to already be "competitive" based on FCC standards, optical speed transmission facilities or dark fiber. Further, incumbent companies no longer are required to provide local switching as a UNE, which means that we can no longer rely on the Unbundled Network Element-Platform, or UNE-P, to provide local services to customers at TELRIC-based rates. In some circumstances, AT&T, Verizon and other incumbent carriers are making available some of these facilities and services, either as lightly regulated special access services or under unregulated "commercial agreements," at significantly higher rates.

        Interconnection Agreements.    Under the Communications Act, incumbent carriers are required to negotiate in good faith with competitive carriers such as us interconnection, colocation, reciprocal compensation for local traffic and access to UNEs. If the negotiating carriers cannot reach agreement within a prescribed time, either carrier may request binding arbitration of the disputed issues by a state regulatory commission. In addition, carriers are permitted to "adopt" in their entirety agreements reached between the incumbent carrier and another carrier during the initial term of that agreement.

        An interconnection agreement typically has a term of three years, although the parties may mutually agree to extend or amend such agreements. We operate under interconnection agreements with AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Frontier Communications, CenturyLink, Fairpoint Communications and Windstream. Our retail operating companies each maintain interconnection agreements with the incumbent in each state and for each service territory within which we purchase UNEs. We expect, but cannot assure, that each new interconnection agreement to which we are or will be a party will provide us with the ability to provide service in each respective state on a reasonable commercial basis. In addition, new agreements could result in less favorable rates, terms and conditions than our prior agreements. If we cannot negotiate new interconnection agreements or renew our existing interconnection agreements in each state on acceptable terms, we may invoke our ability to seek binding arbitration before state regulatory agencies. The arbitration process, which is conducted on a state-by-state basis, can be costly and time-consuming, and the results of arbitration may be unfavorable to us. If we are not able to renegotiate or enter into interconnection agreements on acceptable terms, or if we are subject to unfavorable arbitration decisions, our cost of doing business could increase and our ability to compete could be impeded. Moreover, our interconnection agreements and traffic exchange with companies other than incumbent local exchange carriers (such as wireless and VoIP providers and other competitive carriers) are not subject to the statutory arbitration mechanism, making it potentially more difficult to reach any agreement on terms that we view as acceptable.

        The mergers of BellSouth, SBC and AT&T and of MCI and Verizon have significantly affected the availability of acceptable interconnection agreements that competitive carriers such as us can adopt without incurring the expense of lengthy negotiation and arbitration with an incumbent carrier in each state. Before their respective mergers, AT&T and MCI dedicated significant internal and external resources to negotiate and arbitrate interconnection agreements that many competitive carriers adopted or used as model agreements. These resources and the resulting model agreements are no longer available as

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a result of consolidation among carriers, and it is likely that competitive carriers such as us will be required to invest more resources than in the past to secure acceptable interconnection agreements.

        Internet Protocol-Enabled Services.    The FCC has held that cable modem services offered by cable television companies and broadband Internet services offered by incumbent local exchange carriers should be classified as "information services" and not telecommunications services subject to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC's policy has also been to classify narrowband Internet access services as "information services", which are not subject to traditional telecommunications services regulation, such as licensing or pricing regulation. Any change to these rules that would apply per-minute carrier access charges to dial-up Internet access traffic could significantly impact our costs for this service.

        The current regulatory environment for VoIP services remains unclear, as the decision whether VoIP is an "information service" or "telecommunications service" is still pending. The FCC is considering clarifications and changes to the regulatory status of services and applications using IP, including VoIP offerings. The FCC has issued a series of rulings in connection with the regulatory treatment of interconnected VoIP service, but many of the rulings have been narrowly tailored and others have addressed only discrete issues. In March 2004, the FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on how it might categorize various types of IP-based services, for example, by distinguishing IP services that interconnect to the public switched telephone network, or PSTN, or classifying those that are used as a true substitute for traditional telephone service. Although the FCC has yet to reach a conclusion on many of the key issues presented in this proceeding, it has issued a series of orders holding that VoIP services that interconnect with the PSTN are to be subject to a number of regulatory requirements, including rules relating to Universal Service Fund contributions, Customer Proprietary Network Information rules, the provisioning of network access to authorized law enforcement personnel, local number portability, E-911 and others. The FCC also held that state utility regulatory commissions may not impose pricing and entry regulations on "nomadic" interconnected VoIP services such as that offered by Vonage, concluding that Vonage's VoIP application, and others like it, are interstate services subject only to federal regulation. Reviewing courts have affirmed these FCC decisions. The FCC has not yet clarified definitively whether, and to what extent, providers of interconnected VoIP service are required to pay access charges to local exchange carriers, and broader questions on the regulatory status of VoIP remain to be resolved. We cannot predict how these matters will be resolved or the impact of these matters on companies with which we compete or interconnect.

        Intercarrier Compensation.    The FCC regulates the interstate access rates charged by local carriers to interexchange carriers for the origination and termination of interstate long distance traffic. These access rates make up a significant portion of the cost of providing long distance service. The FCC has adopted policy changes that over time are reducing incumbent carriers' access rates, which has the effect of lowering the cost of providing long distance service, especially to business customers. In addition, the FCC adopted rules that require competitive carriers to reduce their tariffed access charges to those no greater than the incumbent carriers with which they compete. Facilities-based carriers operating in a local market area must pay one another "reciprocal compensation" for terminating traffic over one another's local networks. Reciprocal compensation rates are generally much lower than access charges. The FCC also has adopted rules changing the compensation mechanism for traffic exchanged between telecommunications carriers that are destined for dial-up ISPs and requiring rates equal to or below the relatively low reciprocal compensation rates. In March 2005, the FCC initiated a proceeding designed to comprehensively examine and reform all of these types of intercarrier compensation, including access charges and reciprocal compensation. There has been no definitive result from this proceeding.

        In February 2011, the FCC initiated a further review of the compensation arrangements between all carriers for the use of their respective networks. The pending proceeding could significantly alter the manner in which carriers, including carriers that use different service platforms such as wireless, cable and VoIP, are compensated for the origination and termination of communications traffic and the rates local exchange carriers charge for these access services. The proceeding could also significantly alter the manner

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in which facilities-based local carriers charge other carriers, such as VoIP providers and wireless providers, for the origination and termination of local communications traffic. The FCC's review of these matters will not only re-examine the rules governing the way carriers charge one another, but also the potential effect that changes to the intercarrier compensation regime could have on various federal subsidy programs such as the Universal Service Fund, on the nation's legacy carrier network infrastructure, and on consumers' retail rates.

        Multiple proposals to reform the entire intercarrier compensation regime have been submitted to the FCC by various industry groups since the proceeding was initiated. The most recent rulemaking puts forward a mix of proposals, alternatives and analysis, asking for more input on the framework and potential overhauling of intercarrier compensation and universal service. However, the FCC has not yet enacted a prospective reform of intercarrier compensation. In addition, the FCC has repeatedly declined requests to declare whether under existing law interstate interexchange traffic that originates in IP format and terminates in circuit-switched or time-division multiplexing format is subject to higher switched access charges or lower reciprocal compensation rates. As a result, individual courts and state regulatory commissions have been addressing the issue in the context of individual collection disputes, with inconsistent results.

        Special Access.    Special access is a service offered by incumbent local telephone companies that consists of dedicated transmission facilities or private lines used by wireline and wireless telecommunications carriers, Internet-based service providers and large enterprise end-users. We rely on the purchase of special access services for "last mile" access to many of our customers' locations. As a result, the price of special access services must be available at rates that allow us to price our retail offerings to meet our gross margin expectations while remaining competitively priced in the retail market. Incremental increases in the prices of special access services will exert pressure on our gross margins. Since special access services are not subject to the unbundling requirements of the Communications Act, the prices for special access services have not been directly affected by the FCC's modification of network unbundling rules. To the extent, however, that the availability of UNE digital T1 lines may have served as a restraint on the prices charged for special access services, we could face increased prices for special access services given the limited alternative means of last mile access in some larger central offices resulting from application of the current unbundling rules.

        In 1999, the FCC adopted rules that enable incumbent carriers to obtain pricing flexibility for their interstate special access services in various metropolitan areas depending on the level of competition present in an area. We purchase interstate special access services from incumbent carriers in many metropolitan areas where pricing flexibility has been granted. Depending on the degree of pricing flexibility for which the incumbent carrier qualifies in particular areas, the incumbent carrier may be entitled to impose contracts with minimum revenue commitments and bundles of purportedly discounted and non-discounted services that, in effect, enable the carrier to charge substantially greater prices for special access services in those areas, while making it more difficult for competitive carriers to offer substitute services. In some cases, the FCC has granted petitions by the incumbent carriers for forbearance from any regulation of some special access services.

        As a result of the mergers of BellSouth, SBC and AT&T, and of MCI and Verizon, the number of providers of competitive access services has diminished. The FCC and the Department of Justice placed conditions on the AT&T and Verizon mergers to constrain the ability of AT&T and Verizon to raise prices on their wholesale special access and equivalent retail services. These regulatory pricing constraints have now expired. AT&T and Verizon are free to realign charges for special access services with current commercial rates. Because a substantial portion of our services are generated through the use of special access lines purchased from AT&T and Verizon, a significant increase in the price for special access could substantially increase our cost of services.

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        The FCC currently is considering whether and how to reform its special access rules. We rely to a considerable extent on interstate special access services purchased from the incumbent carriers in order to connect to our customers. We cannot predict when the FCC will issue a decision regarding special access prices or how any such decision will affect our business. A significant increase in the price for special access could materially increase our cost of services. Additional pricing flexibility for special access services offered by the incumbent carriers could place us at a competitive disadvantage, both as a purchaser of access and as a vendor of access to other carriers or end-user customers.

        Universal Service.    The Communications Act and the FCC's rules provide for a federal Universal Service Fund, which is intended to subsidize communications services in rural and high-cost areas, services for low-income consumers, and services for schools, libraries and rural health care providers. Currently, the FCC assesses all telecommunications providers, including us, a percentage of interstate revenues received from retail customers. Providers are permitted to pass through a specified percentage of their Universal Service Fund contribution assessment to their customers in a manner consistent with FCC billing regulations. However, the current policy exempts broadband access services from the Universal Service Fund.

        In November 2008, the FCC proposed to base Universal Service Fund assessments on the number of telephone numbers that a telecommunications carrier actively provides to residential customers and a "connections-based" contribution methodology for business customers, rather than on a percentage of collected interstate revenues. The objective behind the proposal is to capture Universal Service Fund revenues from the expanding number of new service providers using different technologies to offer communications services. In February 2011, the FCC issued another notice of proposed rulemaking to consider whether to limit the number of recipients of Universal Service Fund proceeds in a specified geographic region and whether to select these recipients through a "reverse auction" process, in which the company willing to serve the region using the least amount of Universal Service Fund proceeds would be selected as the proceeds recipient. The FCC also is considering expanding the use of the Universal Service Fund to fund deployment of broadband services to areas that currently do not have or have limited access to high speed broadband services through the creation of a "Connect America Fund." These and other proposals pending before the FCC related to Universal Service Fund reform are expected to generate considerable debate and their outcome is not predictable. Historically, competitive carriers like us have been net contributors to these funds, and that trend is expected to continue. Any changes in the rules may affect our revenues and our competitive position in relation to other service providers, but it is not possible at this time to predict the extent we would be affected by any such rule changes, if at all. Separately, various states maintain, or are in the process of implementing, their own universal service programs, and the rules governing these state programs are also subject to changes. The FCC and state regulatory commissions are continuing to make changes to their universal service rules and policies, and it is difficult to predict how those changes might affect the telecommunications industry or us.

        In addition, the Congress and FCC may consider expanding the Universal Service Fund to include broadband Internet access services. This change could allow broadband service providers to receive a subsidy for deploying broadband in rural and underserved areas, but it will most likely require broadband service providers to contribute to the Universal Service Fund as well. If broadband Internet access providers become subject to Universal Service Fund contribution obligations, they would likely impose a Universal Service Fund surcharge on end users. Such a surcharge will raise the effective cost of our broadband services to our customers, and could affect customer satisfaction or our revenues and profitability.

        National Broadband Plan.    As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress directed the FCC, in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to develop a national broadband plan to ensure that Americans have access to broadband capability and to establish benchmarks in service of that goal. The FCC delivered its plan to Congress on March 16, 2010. The plan outlines at a high level the FCC's policies concerning middle-mile transport,

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intercarrier compensation, the Universal Service Fund, pole attachments, rights-of-way, spectrum allocation and broadband adoption.

        The plan contains numerous recommendations for future actions by the FCC and Congress to further the goal of nationwide broadband access. We anticipate that the FCC will propose rule changes consistent with the plan and will seek additional comments before any final rules are adopted. The development of the FCC's plan may lead to changes in the legal and regulatory environment in which we operate. We cannot predict the nature and extent of the impact which the outcome of these proceedings will have on us or our operations.

        Customer Proprietary Network Information and Privacy.    The Communications Act and the FCC's rules require carriers to implement measures to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of Customer Proprietary Network Information, or CPNI. CPNI includes information related to the quantity, technological configuration, type, destination and the amount of use of a communications service. In April 2007, the FCC revised its CPNI rules to impose new restrictions on telecommunications carriers and providers of interconnected VoIP service. We must file a verified certification of compliance by March 1 of each year that affirms the existence of training and other sales and marketing processes designed to prevent improper use and unauthorized release of CPNI. An inadvertent violation of these and related CPNI requirements by us could subject our company to significant fines or other regulatory penalties.

        Additional measures to protect CPNI and consumer privacy are proposed from time to time, and both Congress and the FCC currently are considering such additional measures. These developments appear to be part of a broader trend to protect consumer information as it continues increasingly to be transmitted in electronic formats. We cannot predict whether additional requirements governing CPNI or other consumer data will be enacted, or whether such additional requirements will affect our ability to market or provide our services to current and future customers.

        Network Management and Internet Neutrality.    In August 2005, the FCC adopted a policy statement that outlined four principles intended to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. The FCC, the Administration and Congress have expressed interest in imposing these so-called "net neutrality" requirements on broadband Internet access providers, which address whether, and the extent to which, owners of network infrastructure should be permitted to engage in network management practices that prioritize data packets on their networks through commercial arrangements or based on other preferences. The FCC in 2005 adopted a policy statement expressing its view that consumers are entitled to access lawful Internet content and to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement and reasonable network management. In an August 2008 decision, the FCC characterized these net neutrality principles as binding and enforceable and stated that network operators have the burden to prove that their network management techniques are reasonable. In that order, which was overturned by a court decision in April 2010, the FCC imposed sanctions on a broadband Internet access provider for managing its network by blocking or degrading some Internet transmissions and applications in a way that the FCC found to be unreasonably discriminatory. In December 2010, the FCC issued new rules to govern network management practices and prohibit unreasonable discrimination in the transmission of Internet traffic. These rules have not taken effect and are currently being challenged in court. It is not possible to determine what specific broadband network management techniques or related business arrangements may be deemed reasonable or unreasonable in the future. We cannot predict how any future legislative, regulatory or judicial decisions relating to net neutrality might affect our ability to manage our broadband network or develop new products or services.

        Forbearance.    The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, provides the FCC with the authority to not enforce, or "forbear" from enforcing, statutory requirements and regulations if certain public interest factors are satisfied. If the FCC were to forbear from enforcing regulations that have been established to enable competing broadband Internet access and VoIP, our business could be adversely affected. In December 2005, the FCC granted, in part, a petition for forbearance filed by Qwest seeking relief from

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specified dominant carrier regulations, including some unbundling obligations related to high capacity loops and transport, in those portions of the Omaha metropolitan statistical area where facilities-based competition had allegedly increased significantly. The FCC's dominant carrier regulations require Qwest, in part, to offer UNEs and also serve as a check on dominant carrier pricing for other wholesale services, such as special access lines, that we seek to purchase at commercially acceptable prices. Upon being granted relief by the FCC, Qwest has substantially increased the prices for the network elements that we use to provide services in eight central offices in the Omaha metropolitan statistical area, or MSA.

        In January 2007, Qwest filed additional petitions for relief from dominant carrier regulation in the metropolitan statistical areas of Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and Seattle. In February 2008, Verizon re-filed petitions, which had previously been denied, for relief from dominant carrier regulation for the State of Rhode Island and Virginia Beach. In July 2008, the FCC denied the Qwest petitions. Qwest subsequently refiled a petition for forbearance for the Phoenix MSA only in March 2009. The FCC issued an order in June 2010 denying Qwest petition for Phoenix and setting forth specific thresholds and analytical frameworks that must be met for grant of such petitions. Qwest has since appealed the FCC decision and order and that appeal remains in the courts. If a court or the FCC upholds or grants any forbearance or similar petitions filed by incumbent carriers in the future affecting markets in which we operate, our ability to purchase wholesale network services from these carriers at cost-based prices that would allow us to achieve our target profit margins in those markets could be materially adversely affected. The grant of these petitions also would enable incumbent carriers to compete with their competitors, including us, more aggressively on price in the affected markets.

        Other Federal Regulation.    In addition to the specific matters listed above, we are subject to a variety of other FCC filing, reporting, record-keeping and fee payment requirements. The FCC has the authority generally to condition, modify, cancel, terminate, revoke or decline to renew licenses and operating authority for failure to comply with federal laws and the FCC's rules, regulations and policies. Fines or other penalties also may be imposed for such violations. The FCC or third parties may raise issues with regard to our compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Moreover, we are subject to additional federal regulation and compliance requirements from other government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

State Regulation

        We are subject to various state laws and regulations. Generally, the state public utility commissions require providers such as us to obtain certificates of authority from the commission before initiating service within the state. In most states, we also are required to file tariffs or price lists setting forth the terms, conditions and prices for specified services that are classified as intrastate and to update or amend our tariffs when we adjust our rates or add new products. We also are subject to various reporting and record-keeping requirements. Certificates of authority can be conditioned, modified, canceled, terminated or revoked by state regulatory authorities for a carrier's failure to comply with state laws or rules, regulations and policies of state regulatory authorities. State utility commissions generally have authority to supervise telecommunications service providers in their states and to enforce state utility laws and regulations. Fines or other penalties also may be imposed for violations. Public utility commissions or third parties may raise issues with regard to our compliance with applicable laws or regulations.

        We have authority to offer intrastate long distance services in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. We provide local services, where authorized, by reselling the retail local services of the incumbent carrier in a given territory and, in some established markets, using incumbent carriers' network elements and our own local switching facilities.

        State public utility commissions have responsibility under the Communications Act to oversee relationships between incumbent carriers and their competitors with respect to such competitors' use of the incumbent carriers' network elements and wholesale local services. Public utility commissions arbitrate

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interconnection agreements between the incumbent carriers and competitive carriers such as us when one of the parties elects to have it do so. Under the Telecommunications Act, the decisions of state public utility commissions with regard to interconnection disputes may be appealed to federal courts. There remain important unresolved issues regarding the scope of the authority of public utility commissions and the extent to which the commissions will adopt policies that promote local telephone service competition.

        States also regulate the intrastate carrier access services of incumbent carriers. We are required to pay access charges to incumbent carriers when they originate or terminate our intrastate long distance traffic. We could be harmed by high access charges or increases to access charges, particularly to the extent that incumbent carriers do not incur the same level of costs with respect to their own intrastate long distance services or to the extent that they are able to offer their long distance affiliates better access pricing. States also regulate or legislate changes to the level of intrastate access charges assessed by competitive local exchange carriers such as us. Some states have ordered maximum rate caps for intrastate access charges of competitive carriers that could result in a decrease in access charge revenues and the inability of competitive carriers to recover fully the costs of providing these services. In one such action, which was effective in March 2008, Virginia capped the intrastate access charges of competitive carriers at the rates charged by the incumbent in whose territory the competitive carrier provides service.

        Several states have also initiated intrastate universal service charges that parallel the interstate charges created by the FCC. The impact of these changes is not yet known. In addition, state legislatures are considering, and in some cases enacting, new laws that limit the authority of the state public utility commissions to regulate and oversee the business dealings of the incumbent carriers. We could be harmed by these actions.

        We will be affected by how states regulate the retail prices of the incumbent carriers with which we compete. As the degree of intrastate competition is perceived to increase, states are offering incumbent carriers increased pricing flexibility and deregulation of particular services deemed to be competitive. This flexibility and deregulation may present the incumbent carriers with an opportunity to subsidize services that compete with our services with revenues generated from their non-competitive services, thereby allowing them to offer competitive services at prices lower than most or all of their competitors. For example, AT&T has obtained authority to create affiliates that would operate on a much less regulated basis and, therefore, could provide significant competition in addition to the local services historically offered by a much more regulated AT&T. We cannot predict the extent to which these developments may affect our business.

        Many states require prior approval for transfers of control of certified carriers, corporate reorganizations, acquisitions of telecommunications operations, assignment of carrier assets, carrier stock offerings and incurrence by carriers of significant debt obligations. These requirements can delay and increase the cost we incur to complete various financing transactions, including future stock or debt offerings, the sale of part or all of our regulated business or the acquisition of assets and other entities to be used in our regulated business.

Local Government Authorizations and Related Rights-of-Way

        We are subject to numerous local regulations such as building codes, municipal franchise requirements and licensing. Such regulations vary on a city-by-city and county-by-county basis and can affect our provision of both network services and carrier services. We are required to obtain street use and construction permits and licenses or franchises to install and expand our fiber optic network using municipal rights-of-way. In some municipalities where we have installed network equipment, we are required to pay license or franchise fees based on a percentage of gross revenues or a per linear foot basis. Following the expiration of existing franchises, these fees are at risk of increasing. In many markets, incumbent carriers do not pay these franchise fees or pay fees that are substantially lower than those required to be paid by us, although the Telecommunications Act requires that, in the future, such fees be

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applied in a competitively neutral manner. To the extent that our competitors do not pay the same level of fees that we do, we could be at a competitive disadvantage. Termination of the existing franchise or license agreements before their expiration dates, or a failure to renew the franchise or license agreements, and a requirement that we remove the corresponding portion of our facilities or abandon the corresponding portion of our network, could harm our business. In addition, we would be adversely affected if we are unable to obtain additional authorizations for any new network construction on reasonable terms.

        A number of states are considering reforming their laws and regulations governing the issuance of franchises and permits by local governmental authorities, and some states already have enacted laws authorizing some types of entities to secure a state-wide franchise. Congress also has considered from time to time, and may consider in the future, various proposals intended to reform the relationship between federal, state and local governments in connection with the franchising process. We cannot predict how these issues will be resolved, or the extent to which these developments will affect our ability to compete. Unresolved issues also exist regarding the ability of new local service providers to gain access to commercial office buildings to serve tenants. The outcome of these challenges cannot be predicted.

Other Regulation

        Internet Taxation.    The Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act, which is in effect through November 2014, places a moratorium on taxes on Internet access and multiple, discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. Certain states have enacted various taxes on Internet access and electronic commerce, and selected states' taxes are being contested on a variety of bases. If these state tax laws are not successfully contested, or if future state and federal laws imposing taxes or other regulations on Internet access and electronic commerce are adopted, our cost of providing Internet access services could be increased and our business could be adversely affected.

        Consumer Protection.    Federal and state governments have adopted consumer protection laws and undertaken enforcement actions to address advertising and user privacy. As part of these efforts, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") and some state Attorney General offices have conducted investigations into the privacy practices of companies that collect information about individuals on the Internet. The FTC and various state agencies as well as individuals have investigated and asserted claims against, or instituted inquiries into, ISPs in connection with marketing, billing, customer retention, cancellation and disclosure practices.

Proprietary Rights

        Our EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC trademarks are valuable assets to our business, and are registered trademarks in the United States. In particular, we believe the strength of the EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC brands among existing and potential customers is important to the success of our business. Additionally, our EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC service marks, proprietary technologies, domain names and similar intellectual property are also important to the success of our business. Although we do have several patents, we do not consider these patents important to our business. We principally rely upon trademark law as well as contractual restrictions to establish and protect our technology and proprietary rights and information. We require employees and consultants and, when possible, suppliers and distributors to sign confidentiality agreements, and we generally control access to, and distribution of, our technologies, documentation and other proprietary information. We will continue to assess appropriate occasions for seeking trademark and other intellectual property protections for those aspects of our business and technology that we believe constitute innovations providing us with a competitive advantage. From time to time, third parties have alleged that certain of our technologies infringe on their intellectual property rights. To date, none of these claims has had an adverse effect on our ability to market and sell our services.

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Employees

        As of December 31, 2010, we had 1,870 employees, including 1,069 operations and customer support personnel, 614 sales and marketing personnel and 187 administrative personnel. None of our employees are represented by a labor union, and we have no collective bargaining agreements.

Available Information

        We file annual reports, quarterly reports, current reports, proxy statements and other documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The public may read and copy any materials that we file with the SEC at the SEC's Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at (202) 942-8090. Also, the SEC maintains an Internet web site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, including EarthLink, that file electronically with the SEC. The public can obtain any documents that we file with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov.

        We also make available free of charge on or through our Internet web site (http://www.earthlink.net) our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and, if applicable, amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as well as Section 16 reports filed on Forms 3, 4 and 5, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our Internet web site is not meant to be incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

        We also provide a copy of our Annual Report on Form 10-K via mail, at no cost, upon receipt of a written request to the following address:

    Investor Relations
    EarthLink, Inc.
    1375 Peachtree Street
    Atlanta, GA 30309

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Item 1A.    Risk Factors.

        The following risk factors and other information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K should be carefully considered. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may adversely impact our business operations. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Business Strategy

We may not be able to execute our business strategy to transition to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider, which could adversely impact our results of operations and cash flows.

        During 2010, we initiated a new business strategy to transition to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. To implement this strategy, we plan to combine our existing business services with the integrated communications businesses of our recent acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and our pending acquisition of One Communications. We plan to offer a comprehensive suite of business services under a new brand, EarthLink Business. There can be no assurance that our efforts will be successful. We may have difficulty managing and developing new products and services, entering into new markets or combining service offerings and sales forces, especially where we have no or limited direct prior experience or where competitors may have stronger market positions. We may not be able to achieve the name recognition or status under this new brand that we have anticipated. In order to be successful, we must also create economies of scale to allow us to increase revenues while incurring incremental costs that are proportionately lower than those applicable to the existing businesses. In addition, the capital expenditures required to support our new strategy may be greater than anticipated. Our revenues and the revenues of ITC^DeltaCom and One Communications have been declining and we expect the revenues from certain aspects of these businesses to continue to decline. Therefore, the inability to successfully implement our new business strategy to counteract these declining revenues could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We may be unsuccessful in making and integrating acquisitions into our business, which could result in operating difficulties, losses and other adverse consequences.

        In December 2010, we completed our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and entered into definitive agreements to acquire One Communications and STS Telecom. Our ability to achieve the benefits of acquisitions depends in part on the integration and leveraging of technology, operations, sales and marketing channels and personnel. Integration and other risks associated with acquisitions can be more pronounced for larger and more complicated transactions or if multiple transactions are integrated simultaneously. The challenges and risks involved in the integration of acquired businesses and any future businesses that we may acquire include:

    diversion of management's attention and resources that would otherwise be available for the current operation of our business;

    failure to fully achieve expected synergies and costs savings;

    higher integration costs than anticipated;

    the impact on employee morale and the retention of employees, many of whom may have specialized knowledge about their business;

    lost revenues or opportunities as a result of our current or potential customers or strategic partners deciding to delay or forego business;

    difficulties combining product offerings and entering into new markets in which we are not experienced;

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    the integration of departments, operating support systems, such as billing systems, and technologies, such as network equipment;

    the need to implement and maintain uniform controls, procedures and policies throughout all of our acquired companies or the need to remediate significant control deficiencies that may exist at acquired companies; and

    potential unknown liabilities.

        We may not realize anticipated synergies, cost savings, growth opportunities and operational efficiencies from our acquisitions, or the anticipated benefits may take longer or present greater cost to realize than expected. The occurrence of any of these risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.

        We expect to continue to evaluate and consider potential strategic transactions that we believe may complement our business. At any given time, we may be engaged in discussions or negotiations with respect to one or more of such transactions that may be material to our financial condition and results of operations. There can be no assurance that any such discussions or negotiations will result in the consummation of any transaction, or that we will identify appropriate transactions on terms acceptable to us. Future acquisitions may result in significant costs and expenses and charges to earnings, including those related to severance pay, employee benefit costs, asset impairment charges, charges from the elimination of duplicative facilities and contracts, legal, accounting and financial advisory fees, and payments to executive officers and key employees under retention plans. Additionally, future acquisitions may result in the dilutive issuances of equity securities, use of our cash resources, incurrence of debt or contingent liabilities, amortization expense related to acquired definite-lived intangible assets or the potential impairment of amounts capitalized as intangible assets, including goodwill. Any of these items could have a material adverse affect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

        We also may experience risks relating to the challenges and costs of closing a transaction and the risk that an announced transaction may not close, including our pending acquisition of One Communications. Completion of certain acquisition transactions are conditioned upon, among other things, the receipt of approvals, including from the FCC and certain state public utilities commissions. Failure to complete a pending transaction would prevent us from realizing the anticipated benefits. We would also remain liable for significant transaction costs, including legal and accounting fees, whether or not the transaction is completed. In addition, the current market price of our common stock may reflect a market assumption as to whether the transaction will occur. Consequently, the completion of, or a failure to complete, a transaction could result in a significant change in the market price of our common stock.

The continuing effects of adverse economic conditions could harm our business.

        Unfavorable general economic conditions, including recession and disruptions to the credit and financial markets, could negatively affect our business. Our consumer access services are discretionary and dependent upon levels of consumer spending. In addition, our business customers are particularly exposed to a weak economy. These conditions could adversely affect the affordability of, and customer demand for, some of our products and services and could cause customers to delay or forgo purchases of our products and services. Also, our business customers may not be able to obtain adequate access to credit, which could affect their ability to make timely payments to us. One or more of these circumstances could cause our revenues to decline, churn to increase, allowance for doubtful accounts and write-offs of accounts receivable to increase or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

        Additionally, our business is dependent on third-party vendors for services and network equipment integral to our business, some of which are experiencing financial distress. If these vendors encounter or continue to encounter financial difficulties, their ability to supply services and network equipment to us

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may be curtailed. If such vendors were to fail, we may not be able to replace them without disruption to, or deterioration of, our service and we may incur higher costs. Acquirers of distressed suppliers may not continue to upgrade technology associated with the type of equipment we use in our network. If we were required to purchase another manufacturer's equipment, we could incur significant initial costs to integrate the equipment into our network and to train personnel to use the new equipment, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Any interruption in the services provided by our third-party vendors could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

If we do not continue to innovate and provide products and services that are useful to individual subscribers and business customers, we may not remain competitive, and our revenues and operating results could suffer.

        The market for Internet and telecommunications services is characterized by changing technology, changes in customer needs and frequent new service and product introductions, and we may be required to select one emerging technology over another. Our future success will depend, in part, on our ability to use leading technologies effectively, to continue to develop our technical expertise, to enhance our existing services and to develop new services that meet changing customer needs on a timely and cost-effective basis. We may not be able to adapt quickly enough to changing technology, customer requirements and industry standards. Such changes could include the increasing use of wireless forms of communication, such as handheld Internet-access devices and mobile phones, new competitors such as VoIP providers and the acceleration of the adoption of broadband due to government funding to deploy broadband to rural areas. In addition, the development and offering of new services in response to new technologies or consumer demands may require us to increase our capital expenditures significantly. Moreover, new technologies may be protected by patents or other intellectual property laws and therefore may be available only to our competitors and not to us. Any of these factors could adversely affect our revenues and profitability.

Our failure to implement cost reduction initiatives will adversely affect our results of operations.

        We have adopted an operating framework that includes a disciplined focus on operational efficiency. The success of our operating efficiencies and cost reductions is necessary to achieve the desired synergies we hope to achieve with the integration of our recent and potential future acquisitions. In addition, as part of this framework, during the past three years we have implemented significant cost reduction initiatives, including reducing our headcount, outsourcing certain functions, streamlining internal processes, renegotiating contracts with network service providers and consolidating or closing certain facilities. We plan to continue to implement cost reduction initiatives and to manage our business more efficiently. However, we believe that large-scale cost reduction opportunities that we have previously experienced in our legacy business will be more limited in the future and in some cases, we may incur upfront costs in connection with implementing certain initiatives. In addition, although we seek to align our cost structure with trends in revenue, we do not expect to be able to reduce our cost structure in our Consumer Services segment to the same extent as those declines in revenue and our cost reduction initiatives might not yield the anticipated benefits. Finally, we may not be able to implement the same discipline for operations related to our recent and potential future acquisitions. If we do not recognize the anticipated benefits of our cost reduction initiatives, or do so in a timely manner, our profitability and cash flows will decline.

We will require a significant amount of cash, which may not be available to us, to service our debt and fund our other liquidity needs.

        On November 15, 2011, holders of our $255.8 million outstanding principal amount of 3.25% Convertible Senior Notes Due 2026 (the "EarthLink Notes") have the right under the governing indenture to require us to repurchase the EarthLink Notes. Our ability to repurchase these EarthLink Notes as well as to make payments on, or to refinance or repay, our debt, fund planned capital expenditures, pay

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quarterly cash dividends and continue to pursue our new business strategy, which may involve future acquisitions, will depend largely upon our future operating performance and our ability to access the capital markets. Our future operating performance is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative and regulatory factors, as well as other factors that are beyond our control. Our business may not generate enough cash flow, or future borrowings may not be available to us, in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay our debt or fund our other liquidity needs. If we are forced to pursue any of the above options under distressed conditions, our business could be adversely affected.

        In addition, adverse conditions in the capital markets, which in recent years have significantly reduced the availability of corporate credit, could continue to affect the global financial system and equity markets, which would limit our access to the debt and equity markets at a time when we would like, or need, to access such markets. This limitation could have an adverse effect on our flexibility to react to changing economic and business conditions.

Risks Related to Our Consumer Services Segment

We face significant competition in the Internet industry that could reduce our profitability.

        We operate in the Internet access services market, which is extremely competitive. We compete directly or indirectly with established online services companies, such as AOL and the Microsoft Network; national communications companies and local exchange carriers, such as AT&T, Qwest and Verizon; cable companies providing broadband access, including Charter Communications, Inc., Comcast, Cox Communications, Inc. and Time Warner Cable; local and regional ISPs; free or value-priced ISPs, such as United Online, Inc. which provides service under the brands Juno and NetZero; wireless Internet service providers; content companies and email providers, such as Google and Yahoo!; and satellite and fixed wireless service providers. Competitors for our consumer VoIP services include established telecommunications and cable companies; ISPs; leading Internet companies; and companies that offer VoIP services as their primary business, such as Vonage. Competitors for our advertising services include major ISPs, content providers, large web publishers, web search engine and portal companies, Internet advertising providers, content aggregation companies, social-networking web sites, and various other companies that facilitate Internet advertising. Competition in the market for access services is likely to continue increasing, and competition could cause us to decrease the pricing of our services, increase churn of our existing customers, increase operating costs or decrease the number of subscribers we are able to add.

        We believe the primary competitive factors in the Internet access service industry are price, speed, features, coverage area and quality of service. While we believe our Internet access services compete favorably based on some of these factors when compared to some Internet access providers, we are at a competitive disadvantage relative to some or all of these factors with respect to other of our competitors. Current and potential competitors include many large companies that have substantially greater market presence and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we have. Our dial-up Internet access services do not compete favorably with broadband services with respect to speed, and dial-up Internet access services no longer have a significant, if any, price advantage over certain broadband services. Most of the largest providers of broadband services, such as cable and telecommunications companies, control their own networks and offer a wider variety of services than we offer, including voice, data and video services. Their ability to bundle services and to offer broadband services at prices below the price that we can profitably offer comparable services puts us at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, our only significant access to offer broadband services over cable is through our agreement with Time Warner.

        We experience pricing pressures for certain of our consumer access services, particularly our consumer broadband services, due to competition, volume-based pricing and other factors. Some providers, including AT&T, have reduced and may continue to reduce the retail price of their Internet

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access services to maintain or increase their market share, which could cause us to reduce, or prevent us from raising, our prices. We may encounter further market pressures to: migrate existing customers to lower-priced service offerings; restructure service offerings to offer more value; reduce prices; and respond to particular short-term, market-specific situations, such as special introductory pricing or new product or service offerings. Any of the above could adversely affect our revenues and profitability.

Our consumer business is dependent on the availability of third-party network service providers.

        Our consumer business depends on the capacity, affordability, reliability and security of third-party network service providers. Only a small number of providers offer the network services we require, and the majority of our network services are currently purchased from a limited number of network service providers. Our principal provider for narrowband services is Level 3. We also purchase narrowband services from certain regional and local providers. Our largest providers of broadband connectivity are AT&T, Bright House Networks, Comcast, Covad, Qwest, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Network service providers have merged and may continue to merge, which would reduce the number of suppliers from which we could purchase network services.

        We cannot be certain of renewal or non-termination of our contracts or that legislative or regulatory factors will not affect our contracts. Our results of operations could be materially adversely affected if we are unable to renew or extend contracts with our current network providers on acceptable terms, renew or extend current contracts with our network providers at all, acquire similar network capacity from other network providers, or otherwise maintain or extend our footprint. Additionally, each of our network providers sells network access to some of our competitors and could choose to grant those competitors preferential network access or pricing. Many of our network providers compete with us in the market to provide consumer Internet access. Such events may cause us to incur additional costs, pay increased rates for wholesale access services, increase the retail prices of our service offerings and/or discontinue providing retail access services, any of which could adversely affect our ability to compete in the market for retail access services.

The continued decline of our consumer access subscribers, combined with the change in mix of our consumer access base from narrowband to broadband, will adversely affect our results of operations.

        Our consumer access revenues consist primarily of narrowband access revenues and broadband access revenues. Our narrowband subscriber base and revenues have been declining and are expected to continue to decline due to continued maturation of the market for narrowband access, increased availability and reduced pricing of broadband access services and an increase in advanced applications such as music downloads, videos, online gaming and social networking which require greater bandwidth for optimal performance. Our broadband subscriber base and revenues have been declining due to increased competition among broadband providers. We expect our consumer access subscriber base and revenues to continue to decline, which will adversely affect our profitability and results of operations. Our strategy for consumer access subscribers has been to reduce our sales and marketing efforts and focus instead on retaining customers and adding customers that are more likely to produce an acceptable rate of return. If we do not maintain our relationships with current customers or acquire new customers, our revenues will decline and our profitability will be adversely affected.

        Changes in the mix of our consumer access subscriber base, from narrowband access to broadband access, have also negatively affected our consumer access profitability. Our consumer broadband access services have lower gross margins due to the higher costs associated with delivering broadband services. Our ability to provide these services profitably is dependent upon cost-effectively purchasing wholesale broadband access and managing the costs associated with delivering broadband services. While we continuously evaluate cost reduction opportunities associated with the delivery of broadband access services, our overall profitability will be adversely affected if we are unable to continue to manage and reduce costs associated with the delivery of broadband services.

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Our commercial and alliance arrangements may not be renewed or may not generate expected benefits, which could adversely affect our results of operations.

        A significant number of our new consumer subscribers have been generated through strategic alliances, including through our marketing alliance with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Generally, our strategic alliances and marketing relationships are not exclusive and may have a short term. In addition, as our agreements expire or otherwise terminate we may be unable to renew or replace these agreements on comparable terms, or at all. Our inability to maintain our marketing relationships or establish new marketing relationships could result in delays and increased costs in adding paying subscribers and adversely affect our ability to add new customers, which could, in turn, have a material adverse effect on us. The number of customers we are able to add through these marketing relationships is dependent on the marketing efforts of our partners, and there is no commitment for these partners to provide us with new customers. A significant decrease in the number of gross subscriber additions generated through these relationships could adversely affect the size of our consumer customer base and revenues.

Privacy concerns relating to our business could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our services.

        Concerns about our practices with regard to the collection, use, disclosure or security of personal information or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, could damage our reputation and operating results. We strive to comply with all applicable data protection laws and regulations, as well as our own posted privacy policies. However, any failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws, regulations or policies may result in proceedings or actions against us by government entities or others, which could potentially have an adverse effect on our business.

        In addition, as our services are web-based, we store a substantial amount of data on our servers for customers (including personal information). Any systems failure or compromise of our security that results in the release of our users' data could increase subscriber churn as well as limit our ability to attract new customers by damaging our reputation and brand. We may also need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches.

Changes in technology in the Internet access industry could cause a decline in our business.

        Our dial-up Internet access services rely on their compatibility with other third-party systems and products, including operating systems. Incompatibility with third-party systems and products could adversely affect our ability to deliver our services or a user's ability to access our services. Our dial-up services are dependent on dial-up modems and an increasing number of computer manufacturers do not pre-load their new computers with dial-up modems, requiring the user to separately acquire a modem to access our services. As the dial-up Internet access market declines and new technologies emerge, we may not be able to continue to effectively distribute and deliver our dial-up services.

        The DSL portion of our broadband access business has also declined over the past several years, and we expect a continued decline in this business as a result of the advantages of the high-speed DOCSIS 3.0 technology offered by many cable broadband providers. This decline may adversely affect our broadband access business as our only other significant means of offering broadband services over cable is through our agreement with Time Warner Cable. In addition, advanced fiber-based technologies being utilized by AT&T and Verizon may also adversely affect both our dial-up and broadband access businesses.

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Risks Related to Our Business Services Segment

We face significant competition in the communications industry that could reduce our profitability.

        Integrated Communications.    The communications industry is highly competitive, and we expect this competition to intensify. These markets are rapidly changing due to industry consolidation, an evolving regulatory environment and the emergence of new technologies. We compete directly or indirectly with incumbent local exchange carriers, such as AT&T, Qwest, Windstream and Verizon; other competitive telecommunications companies, such as Covad, Level 3, PAETEC and XO; interexchange carriers, such as Global Crossing and Sprint Nextel; wireless and satellite service providers; cable service providers, such as Charter Communications, Inc., Comcast, Cox Communications, Inc. and Time Warner Cable; and stand-alone VoIP providers. Competition could adversely impact us in several ways, including (i) the loss of customers and resulting revenue, (ii) the possibility of customers reducing their usage of our services or shifting to less profitable services, (iii) reduced traffic on our networks, (iv) our need to expend substantial time or money on new capital improvement projects, (v) our need to lower prices or increase marketing expenses to remain competitive and (vi) our inability to diversify by successfully offering new products or services.

        We believe the primary competitive factors in the communications industry include price, availability, reliability of service, network security, variety of service offerings, quality of service and reputation of the service provider. While we believe our business services compete favorably based on some of these factors, we are at a competitive disadvantage relative to some or all of these factors with respect to some of our competitors. Many of our current and potential competitors have greater market presence, engineering, technical and marketing capabilities and financial, personnel and other resources substantially greater than ours; own larger and more diverse networks; are subject to less regulation; or have substantially stronger brand names. In addition, industry consolidation has resulted in larger competitors that have greater economies of scale. Consequently, these competitors may be better equipped to charge lower prices for their products and services, to provide more attractive offerings, to develop and expand their communications and network infrastructures more quickly, to adapt more swiftly to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements, to increase prices that we pay for wholesale inputs to our services and to devote greater resources to the marketing and sale of their products and services.

        We expect to continue to face significant pricing and product competition from AT&T and other incumbents that are or become the dominant providers of telecommunications services in our markets. We may be required to reduce further some or all of the prices we charge for our retail local, long distance and data services as a result of the mergers of BellSouth, SBC and AT&T and of MCI and Verizon Communications which have increased substantially their respective market power; the increase of cable companies, wireless carriers and providers of alternative forms of communication that rely on VoIP or similar applications; recent regulatory decisions that have decreased regulatory oversight of incumbent local telephone companies; and new broadband providers with cost structures lower than ours due to governmental subsidies. As a result, we may be required to reduce further some or all of the prices we charge for our retail local, long distance and data services which could adversely affect our revenues, cash flows and results of operations.

        Web Hosting.    The web hosting market is highly fragmented, has low barriers to entry and is characterized by considerable competition on price and features. We compete directly or indirectly with a number of companies, such as GoDaddy.com, Rackspace Hosting, Inc., Web.com and Yahoo!. Some of these companies have substantially greater market presence and greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we have. Competition could cause us to decrease the pricing of our services, increase churn of our existing customers, increase operating costs or decrease the number of subscribers we are able to add, which would result in lower revenues and profits.

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Decisions by the Federal Communications Commission relieving incumbent carriers of certain regulatory requirements, and possible further deregulation in the future, may restrict our ability to provide services and may increase the costs we incur to provide these services.

        We rely in significant part on purchasing wholesale services and leasing network facilities from AT&T and other incumbent carriers. Over the past several years, the FCC has reduced or eliminated a number of regulations governing the incumbent carriers' offerings, including removal of local switching and other network elements from the list of elements that the incumbent carriers must provide on an unbundled basis at TELRIC cost-based rates, as well as the grant of broad pricing flexibility to incumbents for their special access services in many areas. If the incumbent carriers do not continue to permit us to purchase these services from them under commercial arrangements at reasonable rates, our business could be adversely affected and our cost of providing local service could increase. This can have a significant adverse impact on our operating results and cash flows. If the FCC, Congress, state legislatures or state regulatory agencies were to adopt measures further reducing the local competition-related obligations of the incumbents or allowing those carriers to increase further the rates we must pay, we could experience additional increases in operating costs that would negatively affect our operating results and cash flows.

Our wholesale services, including our broadband transport services, will be adversely affected by pricing pressure, network overcapacity, service cancellations and other factors.

        ITC^DeltaCom experienced, and we expect to continue to experience, adverse trends related to wholesale service offerings, including our broadband transport services and local interconnection business, which have resulted primarily from a reduction in rates charged to our customers due to overcapacity in the broadband services business and from service cancellations by some customers. Pending or contemplated consolidations in our industry also may continue to affect adversely our wholesale services business by improving the resources of the consolidating companies and reducing their demand for our services as those companies upgrade their own networks and consolidate their voice and data traffic on those networks. We expect that these factors will result in continued declines in revenues and cash flows from our wholesale service offerings. Such declines will have a disproportionately adverse effect on our operating results because of the higher gross margins associated with our wholesale services.

Our operating performance will suffer if we are not offered competitive rates for the access services we need to provide our long distance services.

        We depend on other communications companies to originate and terminate a significant portion of the long distance traffic initiated by our customers. Our operating performance will suffer if we are not offered these access services at rates that are substantially equivalent to the costs of, and rates charged to, our competitors and that permit profitable pricing of our long distance services. The charges for access services historically have made up a significant percentage of our overall cost of providing long distance service. Some of our Internet-based competitors generally have been exempt from these and other regulatory charges, which could give them a significant cost advantage over us in this area. The FCC currently is considering what charges, if any, should be assessed on long distance and other interconnected voice services provided over the Internet.

We may experience reductions in switched access and reciprocal compensation revenue.

        Over the past several years, ITC^DeltaCom experienced a decline in its revenues for switched access and reciprocal compensation. These switched access and reciprocal compensation revenues may continue to decline as a result of lower volume of traditional long distance voice minutes and FCC and state regulations compelling a reduction of switched access and reciprocal compensation rates. The FCC has been considering proposals for an integrated intercarrier compensation regime under which all traffic exchanged between carriers would be subject to a unified rate. Such changes could materially reduce our switched access revenue from other carriers. We cannot predict the outcome of pending FCC rule makings

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related to intercarrier compensation. In addition, some states have adopted, and other states are considering, rules that lower or cap the switched access rates of competitive carriers. Switched access and reciprocal compensation together have been declining over time. There can be no assurance that we will be able to compensate for the reduction in intercarrier compensation revenue with other revenue sources or increased volume.

Our inability to maintain our network infrastructure, portions of which we do not own, could adversely affect our operating results.

        We have effectively extended our network by entering into agreements with public utility companies to sell long-haul private line services on the fiber optic networks owned by these companies. Any cancellation or non-renewal of any of these agreements, any adverse legal ruling with respect to our rights under any of these agreements, or any future failure by us to acquire and maintain similar network agreements in these or other markets as necessary could materially adversely affect our operations. In addition, some of our agreements with the public utility companies are non-exclusive, and our business would suffer from any reduction in the amount of capacity they make available to us.

If we are unable to interconnect with AT&T, Verizon and other incumbent carriers on acceptable terms, our ability to offer competitively priced local telephone services will be adversely affected.

        To provide local telephone services, we must interconnect with and resell the services of the incumbent carriers to supplement our own network facilities, pursuant to interconnection agreements between us and the incumbent carriers. As the original term of each of our interconnection agreements expires, it typically will be renewed on a month-to-month basis until it is replaced by a successor agreement. Further, federal regulators have adopted substantial modifications to the requirements that obligate AT&T, Verizon and other former monopoly local telephone companies to provide to us at cost-based rates the elements of their telephone networks that enable us to offer many of our services at competitive rates. Moreover, in areas outside of the territories of former Regional Bell Operating Companies in which we do business, such as the territories of CenturyLink, Frontier Communications, Fairpoint Communications, and Windstream, those incumbents carriers are subject to less wholesale regulation than are the RBOCs and tend to have less favorable interconnection options available to competitive carriers. If we are unable to enter into or maintain favorable interconnection agreements in our markets, our ability to provide local services on a competitive and profitable basis may be adversely affected. Any successful effort by the incumbent carriers to deny or substantially limit our access to their network elements or wholesale services also would harm our ability to provide local telephone services.

We may not be able to compete effectively if we are unable to install additional network equipment or convert our network to more advanced technology.

        We may find it necessary to install additional network equipment and/or to convert our existing network to a network using more advanced technology. We may not have or be able to raise the significant capital that a conversion may require, or be able to complete the installation of additional network equipment and the conversion to more advanced technology in a timely manner, at a commercially reasonable cost or at all. We also may face technological problems that cannot be resolved. If we are unable to successfully install or operate new network equipment or to convert our network to a network using more advanced technology, we may not be able to compete effectively, and our results of operations could be adversely affected.

Failure to obtain and maintain necessary permits and rights-of-way could interfere with our network infrastructure and operations.

        To obtain and maintain rights-of-way and similar franchises and licenses needed to install, operate and maintain fiber optic cable and our other network elements, we must negotiate and manage agreements

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with state highway authorities, local governments, transit authorities, local telephone companies and other utilities, railroads, long distance carriers and other parties. For example, if we lose access to a right-of-way, we may need to spend significant amounts to remove and relocate our facilities.

General Risks

We may be unable to retain sufficient qualified personnel, and the loss of any of our key executive officers could adversely affect us.

        Our business depends on the continued services of our senior management and other key personnel and our ability to retain and motivate them effectively. Competition for qualified personnel, including management, technical and sales personnel, may increase in a recovering economic environment. Acquisitions and workforce reductions may affect our ability to retain or replace key personnel, harm employee morale and productivity or disrupt our business. Key employees may depart because of issues relating to the uncertainty and difficulty of integration or a desire not to remain with us following a merger transaction. In addition, reductions in workforce have resulted in less redundancy of mission critical roles. Effective succession planning is important to our long-term success. Failure to ensure effective transfer of knowledge and transitions involving key employees could hinder execution of our business strategies. Finally, the loss of any of our key executives could impair our ability to implement our acquisition integration plans, execute our business strategy or otherwise have a material adverse effect on us.

Interruption or failure of our network and information systems and other technologies could impair our ability to provide our services, which could damage our reputation and harm our operating results.

        Our network, network operations centers, central offices, corporate headquarters and those of our third party service providers are vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, terrorist attacks, floods, fires, power loss, telecommunications failures, break ins, human error, computer denial of service attacks, computer hackings, computer viruses, worms or other attempts to harm our systems, and similar events. Some of our systems are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning may not be adequate. Further, any security breaches, such as misappropriation, misuse, leakage, falsification or accidental release or loss of information maintained in our information technology systems and networks, including customer, personnel and vendor data, could damage our reputation and require us to expend significant capital and other resources to remedy any such security breach. We may experience service interruptions or system failures in the future. In addition, as we consider potential outsource or network consolidation opportunities, we may experience service interruptions despite our efforts to minimize the impact to customers. Any service interruption adversely affects our ability to operate our business and could result in an immediate loss of revenues. If we experience frequent or persistent system or network failures, our reputation and brand could be permanently harmed. We may make significant capital expenditures to increase the reliability of our systems, but these capital expenditures may not achieve the results we expect. The occurrence of any such network, email or information system-related events or security breaches could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

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        Our ability to provide communications services also could be materially adversely affected by a cable cut, switch failure or other equipment failure along our fiber optic network or along any other fiber optic network on which we lease transmission capacity. A significant portion of our fiber optic network is not protected by electronic redundancy or geographical diverse routing. Lack of these safeguards could result in our inability to reroute traffic to another fiber in the same fiber sheath in the event of a partial fiber cut or electronics failure or to an entirely different fiber optic route, assuming capacity is available, if there occurs a total cable cut or if we fail to maintain our rights-of-way on some routes.

        In addition, our consumer VoIP services, including our E911 service, depend on the proper functioning of facilities and equipment owned and operated by third parties and is, therefore, beyond our control. If our third party service providers fail to maintain these facilities properly, or fail to respond quickly to problems, our customers may experience service interruptions. In addition, our E911 emergency service for our VoIP services is different in significant respects from the emergency calling services offered by traditional wireline telephone companies. Those differences may cause significant delays, or even failures, in callers' receipt of the emergency assistance they need. VoIP providers are not currently protected by legislation, so any resulting liability could be substantial. If interruptions or delays adversely affect the perceived reliability of our service, we may have difficulty attracting new customers and our brand and reputation may be negatively impacted. Any of these factors could cause us to lose revenues, incur greater expenses or cause our reputation or financial results to suffer.

Our business depends on effective business support systems and processes.

        Our business relies on our data, billing and other operational and financial reporting and control systems. To effectively manage our technical support infrastructure, especially as we make acquisitions, we will need to continue to maintain our data, billing, and other operational and financial systems, procedures and controls, which can be costly. We have experienced system failures from time to time, and any interruption in the availability of our business support systems, in particular our billing system, could result in an immediate, and possibly substantial, loss of revenues. Frequent or persistent system failures could cause customers to believe our systems are unreliable, leading them to switch to our competitors and could permanently harm our reputation.

        Our Business Services segment also depends on operations support systems and other carriers to order and receive network elements and wholesale services from the incumbent carriers. These systems are necessary for carriers like us to provide local service to customers on a timely and competitive basis. FCC rules, together with rules adopted by state public utility commissions, may not be implemented in a manner that will permit us to order, receive, provision and maintain network elements and other facilities in the manner necessary for us to provide many of our services.

Government regulations could adversely affect our business or force us to change our business practices.

        Our services are subject to varying degrees of federal, state and local regulation and, in light of our recent and pending acquisitions and the growth of our Business Services segment, will be more affected by regulation than in the past. Federal, state and local regulations governing our services are the subject of ongoing judicial proceedings, rulemakings and legislative initiatives, that could change the manner in which our industry operates and affect our business.

    Business Services Segment Regulation

        Through our wholly-owned subsidiaries, we hold numerous federal and state regulatory authorizations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exercises jurisdiction over telecommunications common carriers to the extent that they provide, originate or terminate interstate or international communications. The FCC also establishes rules and has other authority over some issues related to local telephone competition. State regulatory commissions retain jurisdiction over

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telecommunications carriers to the extent that they provide, originate or terminate intrastate communications. State commissions also have authority to review and approve interconnection agreements between incumbent telephone carriers and competitive carriers such as us, and to conduct arbitration of disputes arising in the negotiation of such agreements. Local governments may require us to obtain licenses, permits or franchises to use the public rights-of-way necessary to install and operate our network.

        The regulatory environment relating to our Business Services segment continues to evolve. Bills intended to amend the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ("Communications Act") are introduced in Congress from time to time and their effect on us and the communications industry cannot always be predicted. Proposed legislation, if enacted, could have a significant effect on our business, particularly if the legislation impairs our ability to interconnect with incumbent carrier networks, lease portions of other carriers' networks or resell their services at reasonable prices, or lease elements of networks of the ILECs under acceptable rates, terms and conditions. We cannot predict the outcome of any ongoing legislative initiatives or administrative or judicial proceedings or their potential impact upon the communications and information technology industries generally or upon us specifically.

        Failure to make proper payments for federal Universal Service Fund assessments, FCC regulatory fees or other amounts mandated by federal and state regulations; failure to maintain proper state tariffs and certifications; failure to comply with federal, state or local laws and regulations; failure to obtain and maintain required licenses, franchises and permits; imposition of burdensome license, franchise or permit requirements for us to operate in public rights-of-way; and imposition of new burdensome or adverse regulatory requirements could limit the types of services we provide or the terms on which we provide these services.

    Consumer Services Segment Regulation

        Narrowband Internet access.    Currently, narrowband Internet access is classified as an "information service" and is not subject to traditional telecommunications services regulation, such as licensing or pricing regulation. Any change to these rules that would apply per-minute carrier access charges to dial-up Internet access traffic could significantly impact our costs for this service. While Internet traffic is not subject to the FCC's carrier access charge regime, dial-up ISP bound traffic is regulated by the FCC. The FCC has established a uniform, nationwide rate for ISP-bound traffic, but these rules have been criticized by the courts and further judicial scrutiny is expected. Changes to the rules governing dial-up ISP bound traffic could impact our cost of providing this service.

        Internet taxation.    The Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act, which is in effect through November 2014, places a moratorium on taxes on Internet access and multiple, discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. Certain states have enacted various taxes on Internet access and electronic commerce, and selected states' taxes are being contested on a variety of bases. If these state tax laws are not successfully contested, or if future state and federal laws imposing taxes or other regulations on Internet access and electronic commerce are adopted, our cost of providing Internet access services could be increased and our business could be adversely affected.

        Universal Service.    While current policy exempts broadband access services from the Universal Service Fund ("USF"), the Congress and FCC may consider expanding the USF to include broadband Internet access services. This change could allow broadband service providers to receive a subsidy for deploying broadband in rural and underserved areas, but it will most likely require broadband service providers to contribute to the fund as well. If broadband Internet access providers become subject to USF contribution obligations, they would likely impose a USF surcharge on end users. Such a surcharge will raise the effective cost of our broadband services to our customers, and could adversely affect customer satisfaction or our revenues and profitability.

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        VoIP regulation.    The current regulatory environment for VoIP services remains unclear, as the decision whether VoIP is an "information service" or "telecommunications service" is still pending. Classifying VoIP as a telecommunications service could require us to obtain a telecommunications license, comply with numerous legacy telephone regulations, and possibly subject the VoIP traffic to inter-carrier access charges, which could result in increased costs.

    General Regulation

        Consumer protection.    Federal and state governments have adopted consumer protection laws and undertaken enforcement actions to address advertising and user privacy. Our services and business practices, or changes to our services and business practices could subject us to investigation or enforcement actions if we fail to adequately comply with applicable consumer protection laws. Existing and future federal and state laws and regulations also may affect the manner in which we are required to protect confidential customer data and other information, which could increase the cost of our operations and our potential liability if the security of our confidential customer data is breached.

        Broadband Internet access.    Currently, broadband Internet access is classified as an "information service" and, as a result, cable companies and telephone companies that offer a broadband Internet access information service are not required by the FCC to offer unaffiliated ISPs stand-alone broadband transmission. Accordingly, if our contracts with cable companies and telephone companies were to expire and not be replaced, our broadband Internet access customer base and revenues would be adversely affected.

        Forbearance.    If the FCC were to forbear from enforcing regulations that have been established to enable competing broadband Internet access and VoIP, our consumer services business could be adversely affected. In addition, with respect to our business services, regulatory authorities generally have decreased their oversight of incumbent carriers and from time to time are asked to forbear from applying a range of regulations to incumbent carriers, which may increase the competitive benefits these companies experience from their longstanding customer relationships and greater financial and technical resources, and may increase their ability to reduce prices for local and other network services by offsetting those reductions with revenue or profits generated by unrelated businesses, products or services.

        Other laws and regulations.    Our business also is subject to a variety of other U.S. laws and regulations from various entities, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as by state and local regulatory agencies, that could subject us to liabilities, claims or other remedies. Compliance with these laws and regulations is complex and may require significant costs. In addition, the regulatory framework relating to Internet and communications services is evolving and both the federal government and states from time to time pass legislation that impacts our business. It is likely that additional laws and regulations will be adopted that would affect our business. We cannot predict the impact future laws, regulatory changes or developments may have on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. The enactment of any additional laws or regulations, increased enforcement activity of existing laws and regulations, or claims by individuals could significantly impact our costs or the manner in which we conduct business, all of which could adversely impact our results of operations and cause our business to suffer.

        For example, changes in policies or regulations mandating new environmental standards could increase our operating costs, such as utility costs at our switch sites, and changes in tax laws or the interpretation of existing tax laws by state and local authorities could increase our income, sales, property or other tax costs. In addition, our operations are subject to a variety of laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, including those governing the cleanup of contamination and the management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As an owner or operator of property, we could incur significant costs as a result of violations or liabilities under such laws and regulations, including fines, penalties, cleanup costs and third-party claims.

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Our business may suffer if third parties used for customer service and technical support and certain billing services are unable to provide these services or terminate their relationships with us.

        Our business and financial results depend, in part, on the availability and quality of our customer service and technical support and certain billing services, including collection services. Our Consumer Services segment outsources a majority of our customer service and technical support functions and relies primarily on one customer service and technical support vendor. As a result, we maintain only a small number of internal customer service and technical support personnel. We are not currently equipped to provide the necessary range of service and support functions in the event that our service providers become unable or unwilling to offer these services to us. Our outsourced customer support providers utilize international locations to provide us with customer service and technical support services, and as a result, our customer support providers may become subject to financial, economic, environmental and political risks beyond our or the providers' control, which could jeopardize their ability to deliver customer service and technical support services. We also utilize third parties for certain billing and collection services and for our web hosting services. If one or more of our service providers does not provide us with quality services, or if our relationship with any of our third party vendors terminates and we are unable to provide those services internally or identify a replacement vendor in an orderly, cost-effective and timely manner, our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows could suffer.

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property.

        We regard our EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC trademarks as valuable assets to our business. In particular, we believe the strength of the EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC brands among existing and potential customers is important to the success of our business. Additionally, our EarthLink, EarthLink Business and PeoplePC service marks, proprietary technologies, domain names and similar intellectual property are also important to the success of our business. We principally rely upon trademark law as well as contractual restrictions to establish and protect our technology and proprietary rights and information. We require employees and consultants and, when possible, suppliers and distributors to sign confidentiality agreements, and we generally control access to, and distribution of, our technologies, documentation and other proprietary information. The efforts we have taken to protect our proprietary rights may not be sufficient or effective. Third parties may infringe or misappropriate our trademarks and similar proprietary rights. If we are unable to protect our proprietary rights from unauthorized use, our brand image may be harmed and our business may suffer. In addition, protecting our intellectual property and other proprietary rights is expensive and time consuming. Any increase in the unauthorized use of our intellectual property could make it more expensive to do business and consequently harm our operating results.

We may be accused of infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties, which is costly to defend and could limit our ability to use certain technologies in the future.

        From time to time, third parties have alleged that we infringe on their intellectual property rights. We may be unaware of filed patent applications and of issued patents that could be related to our products and services. Some of the largest communications providers, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, have substantial patent holdings. These providers have successfully asserted their claims against some communications companies, and have filed pending lawsuits against various competitive carriers. We have been subject to, and expect to continue to be subject to, claims and legal proceedings regarding alleged infringement by us of the patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights of third parties. None of these claims has had an adverse effect on our ability to market and sell and support our services. Such claims, whether or not meritorious, are time-consuming and costly to resolve, and could require expensive changes in our methods of doing business, could require us to enter into costly royalty or licensing agreements, or could require us to cease conducting certain operations. Any of these events could result in increases in operating expenses or could limit or reduce the number of our service offerings.

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If we, or other industry participants, are unable to successfully defend against legal actions, we could face substantial liabilities or suffer harm to our financial and operational prospects.

        We are currently a party to various legal actions, including consumer class action, patent litigation and legal proceedings regarding the use of rights-of-way for our network. Defending against these lawsuits may involve significant expense and diversion of management's attention and resources from other matters. Due to the inherent uncertainties of litigation, we may not prevail in these actions. In addition, our ongoing operations may subject us to litigation risks and costs in the future. Both the costs of defending lawsuits and any settlements or judgments against us could materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

        We also expect to continue to be subject to the risks associated with the resolution of various third-party disputes, lawsuits, arbitrations and proceedings affecting our business, particularly our Business Services segment. The deregulation of the telecommunications industry, the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the evolution of telecommunications infrastructure from time-division multiplexing to Internet Protocol, and the distress of many carriers in the telecommunications industry as a result of continued competitive factors and financial pressures have resulted in the involvement of numerous industry participants in disputes, lawsuits, proceedings and arbitrations before state and federal regulatory commissions, private arbitration organizations such as the American Arbitration Association, and courts over many issues that will be important to our financial and operational success. These issues include the interpretation and enforcement of existing interconnection agreements and tariffs, the terms of new interconnection agreements, operating performance obligations, intercarrier compensation, treatment of different categories of traffic (for example, traffic originated or terminated on wireless or VoIP), the jurisdiction of traffic for intercarrier compensation purposes, the wholesale services and facilities available to us, the prices we will pay for those services and facilities, and the regulatory treatment of new technologies and services.

We may be required to recognize additional impairment charges on our goodwill and intangible assets, which would adversely affect our results of operations and financial position.

        We have recorded goodwill and other intangible assets in connection with our acquisitions, including $188.9 million of goodwill resulting from our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom. We perform an impairment test of our goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets annually during the fourth quarter of our fiscal year or when events occur or circumstances change that would more likely than not indicate that goodwill or any such assets might be impaired. We evaluate the recoverability of our definite-lived intangible assets for impairment when events occur or circumstances change that would indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. Factors that may be considered a change in circumstances, indicating that the carrying value of our goodwill or intangible assets may not be recoverable, include a decline in stock price and market capitalization, reduced future cash flow estimates, higher customer churn, and slower growth rates in our industry. We have experienced impairment charges in the past. As we continue to assess the ongoing expected cash flows and carrying amounts of our goodwill and other intangible assets, changes in economic conditions, changes to our business strategy, changes in operating performance or other indicators of impairment could cause us to realize a significant impairment charge, negatively impacting our results of operations and financial position.

We may have to undertake further restructuring plans that would require additional charges, including incurring facility exit and restructuring charges.

        Over the past few years, we implemented a corporate restructuring plan under which we significantly reduced our workforce and closed or consolidated various facilities. Our continued focus on maintaining operational efficiency may result in additional restructuring activities or changes in estimates to amounts previously recorded. We may choose to divest certain business operations based on our management's assessment of their strategic value to our business, further consolidate or close certain facilities

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or outsource certain functions, including network and data center consolidation. Decisions to eliminate or limit certain business operations in the future could involve the expenditure of capital, consumption of management resources, realization of losses, transition and wind-up expenses, further reduction in workforce, impairment of the value of purchased assets, facility consolidation and the elimination of revenues along with associated costs, any of which could cause our operating results to decline and may fail to yield the expected benefits. Engaging in further restructuring and integration activities could result in additional charges and costs, including facility exit and restructuring costs, and could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operations and cash flows.

We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities and the use of our net operating losses and certain other tax attributes could be limited in the future.

        As of December 31, 2010, we had approximately $515.9 million of tax net operating losses for federal income tax purposes and approximately $776.6 million of tax net operating losses for state income tax purposes. The tax net operating losses for federal income tax purposes begin to expire in 2020 and the tax net operating losses for state income tax purposes began to expire in 2010. Additionally, we acquired companies with existing federal and state net operating losses.

        Our future income taxes could be adversely affected by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities or by changes in tax laws, regulations, accounting principles or interpretations thereof. Our determination of our tax liability is always subject to review by applicable tax authorities. Any adverse outcome of such a review could have a negative effect on our operating results and financial condition. In addition, the determination of our provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment, and there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Although we believe our estimates are reasonable, the ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded in our financial statements and may materially affect our financial results in the period or periods for which such determination is made.

        An "ownership change" that occurs during a "testing period" (as such terms are defined in Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended) could place significant limitations, on an annual basis, on the use of such net operating losses to offset future taxable income we may generate. In general, future stock transactions and the timing of such transactions could cause an "ownership change" for income tax purposes. Such transactions may include our purchases under our share repurchase program, additional issuances of common stock by us (including but not limited to issuances upon future conversion of our outstanding convertible senior notes), and acquisitions or sales of shares by certain holders of our shares, including persons who have held, currently hold, or may accumulate in the future five percent or more of our outstanding stock. Many of these transactions are beyond our control. Calculations of an "ownership change" under Section 382 are complex and to some extent are dependent on information that is not publicly available. The risk of an "ownership change" occurring could increase if additional shares are repurchased, if additional persons acquire five percent or more of our outstanding common stock in the near future and/or current five percent stockholders increase their interest. Due to this risk, we monitor our purchases of additional shares of our common stock. Since an "ownership change" also could result from a change in control of our company, with subsequent annual limitations on the use of our net operating losses, this could discourage a change in control.

We may reduce, or cease payment of, quarterly cash dividends.

        The payment of future quarterly dividends is discretionary and is subject to determination by our Board of Directors each quarter following its review of our financial condition, results of operations, cash requirements, investment opportunities and such other factors as are deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. Changes in our business needs, including funding for acquisitions and working capital, or a change in tax laws relating to dividends, among other factors, could cause our Board of Directors to decide to reduce, or cease the payment of, dividends in the future. In January 2011, we reduced our quarterly

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dividend to $0.05 per share. There can be no assurance that we will not further decrease or discontinue quarterly cash dividends, and if we do, our stock price could be negatively impacted.

Our stock price may be volatile.

        The trading price of our common stock may be subject to fluctuations in response to certain events and factors, such as our entry into business combinations or other major transactions; quarterly variations in results of operations; changes in financial estimates; unstable economic conditions; changes in recommendations or reduced coverage by securities analysts; the operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors may deem comparable to us; and news reports relating to trends in the markets in which we operate or general economic conditions.

        In addition, the stock market in general and the market prices for Internet and communications companies have experienced volatility that often has been unrelated to the operating performance of such companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the price of our stock, regardless of our operating performance. Additionally, volatility or a lack of positive performance in our stock price may adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, many of whom have been granted stock incentive awards.

Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and limit our ability to react to changes in our industry.

        As of December 31, 2010, we had $255.8 million outstanding principal amount of EarthLink Notes. In addition, in connection with our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we assumed $325.0 million outstanding principal amount of 10.5% senior secured notes due 2016 (the "ITC^DeltaCom Notes"). Our indebtedness could have important consequences to us. For example, it could:

    require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund our business activities;

    limit our ability to secure additional financing, if necessary;

    increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions; and

    limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate.

        Holders of the EarthLink Notes have the right to require us to repurchase the EarthLink Notes on November 15, 2011, November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2021 or upon the occurrence of a fundamental change prior to maturity. In addition, under the terms of the indenture governing the EarthLink Notes, our payment of cash dividends requires an adjustment to the conversion rate for the EarthLink Notes, and as a result of the adjustment, the EarthLink Notes may be surrendered for conversion for a period of time between the declaration date and the record date, as defined in the indenture, for the consideration provided for in the indenture. In January 2010, $3.0 million of EarthLink Notes were surrendered for conversion. The number of holders who require us to repurchase the Notes could increase as we continue to declare dividends. Upon conversion of the EarthLink Notes, we are required to deliver cash equal to the lesser of the aggregate principal amount of the EarthLink Notes to be converted and the total conversion obligation. We may use cash, shares of common stock or a combination thereof, at our option, for the remainder, if any, of the conversion obligation. We may not have sufficient funds to make the required cash payment upon conversion or to purchase or repurchase the EarthLink Notes in cash at such time or the ability to arrange necessary financing on acceptable terms. In addition, the requirement to pay the fundamental change repurchase price, including the related make whole premium, may discourage a change in control of our company.

        In addition, the indenture that governs the ITC^DeltaCom Notes imposes operating and financial restrictions that limit our discretion on some business matters involving ITC^DeltaCom and its

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subsidiaries. These restrictions include compliance with or maintenance of specified financial tests and ratios and will limit ITC^DeltaCom's ability to sell assets; incur or guarantee additional indebtedness; incur certain liens; make loans and investments; enter into agreements restricting subsidiaries' ability to pay dividends; consolidate, merge or sell all or substantially all of their assets; and enter into transactions with affiliates.

        We may incur indebtedness in addition to the foregoing indebtedness. Any additional indebtedness we may incur in the future may subject us to similar or even more restrictive conditions. Our ability to make payments on or to refinance our indebtedness will depend on our ability in the future to generate cash flows from operations, which is subject to all the risks of our business. We may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows from operations for us to repay our indebtedness when such indebtedness becomes due and to meet our other cash needs.

Provisions of our second restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and other elements of our capital structure could limit our share price and delay a change of management.

        Our second restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and shareholder rights plan contain provisions that could make it more difficult or even prevent a third party from acquiring us without the approval of our incumbent Board of Directors. These provisions, among other things:

    divide the Board of Directors into three classes, with members of each class to be elected in staggered three-year terms;

    limit the right of stockholders to call special meetings of stockholders; and

    authorize the Board of Directors to issue preferred stock in one or more series without any action on the part of stockholders.

        These provisions could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock and significantly impede the ability of the holders of our common stock to change management. In addition, we have adopted a rights plan, which has anti-takeover effects. The rights plan, if triggered, could cause substantial dilution to a person or group that attempts to acquire our common stock on terms not approved by the Board of Directors. These provisions and agreements that inhibit or discourage takeover attempts could reduce the market value of our common stock.

Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments.

        None.

Item 2.    Properties.

        We own and lease several corporate offices, sales offices, switch sites, colocation sites, and other facilities across our nationwide service area. Our corporate headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia, where we occupy approximately 76,000 square feet under a lease that will expire in 2014. We occupy 55,000 square feet in Pasadena, California for operations and corporate offices under a lease that will expire in 2014 and 53,000 square feet in Vancouver, Washington for operations and corporate offices under a lease that will expire in 2012. We also lease office space for various functions in Anniston and Huntsville, Alabama and in Raleigh, North Carolina, and we lease multiple branch office locations in the southeast under leases that expire on various dates through 2016. We own an administrative office in Arab, Alabama.

        We have constructed and own a multi-service facility in Anniston, Alabama, which functions as a centralized network operations and switch control center for our network and as an operator services center. We also own a data center facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

        We own switch sites in Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama and in Nashville, Tennessee. We lease space for our voice switch sites in cities in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North

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Carolina and South Carolina. The leases for these switch sites expire on various dates from 2011 to 2018. As part of our fiber optic network, we own or lease rights-of-way, land, and point-of-presence space throughout the southeastern United States.

        We believe our facilities are suitable and adequate for our business operations. For additional information regarding our obligations under property leases, see Note 15, "Commitments and Contingencies," in our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Item 8 of Part II of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Item 3.    Legal Proceedings.

        We are a party to various legal proceedings that are ordinary and incidental to our business. Management does not expect that any currently pending legal proceedings will have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial position.

Item 4.    (Removed and Reserved).

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PART II

Item 5.    Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Market Information

        Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol "ELNK." The following table sets forth the high and low sale prices for our common stock for the periods indicated, as reported by the NASDAQ Global Market.

 
  EarthLink, Inc.  
 
  High   Low  

Year Ended December 31, 2009

             

First Quarter

  $ 7.83   $ 6.02  

Second Quarter

    8.17     6.43  

Third Quarter

    8.75     7.30  

Fourth Quarter

    8.93     7.92  

Year Ending December 31, 2010

             

First Quarter

  $ 8.78   $ 7.95  

Second Quarter

    9.35     7.96  

Third Quarter

    9.13     7.85  

Fourth Quarter

    9.29     8.51  

Year Ending December 31, 2011

             

First Quarter (through January 31, 2011)

  $ 8.95   $ 8.47  

        The last reported sale price of our common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market on January 31, 2011 was $8.53 per share.

Holders

        There were approximately 1,622 holders of record of our common stock on January 31, 2011.

Dividends

        Prior to 2009, we had never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock. During 2009, we began paying quarterly cash dividends. During the year ended December 31, 2009, cash dividends declared were $0.28 per common share and total dividend payments were $30.0 million. During the year ended December 31, 2010, cash dividends declared were $0.62 per common share and total dividend payments were $67.5 million. In January 2011, we reduced our quarterly dividend to $0.05 per share. We currently intend to continue to pay regular quarterly dividends on our common stock. Any decision to declare future dividends will be made at the discretion of the Board of Directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, investment opportunities and other factors the Board of Directors may deem relevant.

Performance Graph

        The following indexed line graph indicates our total return to stockholders from December 31, 2005 to December 31, 2010, as compared to the total return for the NASDAQ Stock Market, Russell 2000, Morgan Stanley Internet and NASDAQ Telecomm indices for the same period. We have historically compared our total return to the NASDAQ Stock Market and the Morgan Stanley Internet indices. During 2010 we entered into two telecommunications acquisition transactions we believe will transform our business and we refocused our business strategy to become a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. As a result, we are comparing to a new index, the NASDAQ Telecomm, which we believe

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is more comparable with our new business focus. We are also comparing our total return to another new index, the Russell 2000, which we believe contains companies of similar market capitalization as ours. The calculations in the graph assume that $100 was invested on December 31, 2005 in our common stock and each index and also assumes dividend reinvestment.

GRAPHIC

 
  December 31,
2005
  December 31,
2006
  December 31,
2007
  December 31,
2008
  December 31,
2009
  December 31,
2010
 

EarthLink, Inc. 

    100.0     63.9     63.6     60.8     77.3     83.0  

NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.)

    100.0     109.5     120.3     71.5     102.9     120.3  

Russell 2000 Index

    100.0     118.4     116.6     77.2     98.2     124.6  

Morgan Stanley Internet Index

    100.0     109.4     145.1     78.5     153.5     201.9  

NASDAQ Telecomm Index

    100.0     128.4     140.9     80.7     120.5     126.7  

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Item 6.    Selected Financial Data.

        The following selected consolidated financial data was derived from our consolidated financial statements. The data should be read in conjunction with "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation" and the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2006   2007   2008   2009   2010 (1)  
 
  (in thousands, except per share amounts)
 

Statement of operations data:

                               

Revenues

  $ 1,301,072   $ 1,215,994   $ 955,577   $ 723,729   $ 622,212  

Operating costs and expenses (2)(3)

    1,205,431     1,167,960     790,970     541,571     460,519  

Income from operations

    95,641     48,034     164,607     182,158     161,693  

Income (loss) from continuing
operations (4)

    23,690     (64,795 )   187,090     287,118     81,480  

Loss from discontinued operations (5)

    (19,999 )   (80,302 )   (8,506 )        

Net income (loss)

    3,691     (145,097 )   178,584     287,118     81,480  

Basic net income (loss) per share

                               
 

Continuing operations

  $ 0.18   $ (0.53 ) $ 1.71   $ 2.69   $ 0.75  
 

Discontinued operations

    (0.16 )   (0.66 )   (0.08 )        
                       
 

Basic net income (loss) per share

  $ 0.03   $ (1.19 ) $ 1.63   $ 2.69   $ 0.75  
                       

Diluted net income (loss) per share

                               
 

Continuing operations

  $ 0.18   $ (0.53 ) $ 1.68   $ 2.66   $ 0.74  
 

Discontinued operations

    (0.15 )   (0.66 )   (0.08 )        
                       
 

Diluted net income (loss) per share

  $ 0.03   $ (1.19 ) $ 1.61   $ 2.66   $ 0.74  
                       

Cash dividends declared per common share

  $   $   $   $ 0.28   $ 0.62  
                       

Basic weighted average common shares outstanding

    128,790     121,633     109,531     106,909     108,057  
                       

Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding

    130,583     121,633     111,051     108,084     109,468  
                       

Cash flow data:

                               

Cash provided by operating activities

  $ 115,249     88,789     230,612     208,622     154,449  

Cash (used in) provided by investing activities

    (283,064 )   13,936     107,124     (37,121 )   (454,193 )

Cash provided by (used in) financing activities

    152,890     (87,267 )   (24,999 )   (47,070 )   (68,299 )

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  As of December 31,  
 
  2006   2007   2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Balance sheet data:

                               

Cash and cash equivalents

  $ 158,369   $ 173,827   $ 486,564   $ 610,995   $ 242,952  

Investments in marketable securities

    236,407     114,768     47,809     84,966     320,118  
                       

Cash and marketable securities

    394,776     288,595     534,373     695,961     563,070  

Total assets

   
966,298
   
729,970
   
845,866
   
1,074,618
   
1,523,918
 

Long-term debt, including long-term portion of capital leases (6)

    198,223     208,472     219,733     232,248     594,320  

Total liabilities

    448,616     415,452     359,391     340,594     766,050  

Accumulated deficit

    (1,046,293 )   (1,191,390 )   (1,016,833 )   (729,715 )   (648,235 )

Stockholders' equity

    517,682     314,518     486,475     734,024     757,868  

(1)
On December 8, 2010, we acquired ITC^DeltaCom, a provider of integrated communications services to customers in the southeastern U.S. The results of operations of ITC^DeltaCom have been included in our consolidated financial statements since the acquisition date.

(2)
Operating costs and expenses for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010 include non-cash impairment charges of $78.7 million, $24.1 million and $1.7 million, respectively, related to goodwill and certain intangible assets of New Edge in our Business Services segment. During 2008 and 2009, we concluded the carrying value of these assets were impaired in conjunction with our annual tests of goodwill and intangible assets deemed to have indefinite lives. During 2010, we decided to re-brand the New Edge name as EarthLink Business and wrote off our New Edge trade name.

(3)
Operating costs and expenses for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010 include restructuring and acquisition-related costs of $9.1 million, $5.6 million and $22.4 million, respectively.

(4)
During the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, we recorded income tax benefits in the Statement of Operations of approximately $56.1 million and $198.8 million, respectively, from releases of our valuation allowance related to deferred tax assets. These deferred tax assets related primarily to net operating loss carryforwards which we determined we will more likely than not be able to utilize due to the generation of sufficient taxable income in the future.

(5)
In November 2007, management concluded that the municipal wireless broadband operations were no longer consistent with our strategic direction and our Board of Directors authorized management to pursue the divestiture of our municipal wireless broadband assets. As a result of that decision, we classified the municipal wireless broadband assets as held for sale and presented the municipal wireless broadband operations as discontinued operations for all periods presented.

(6)
Includes the carrying amount of the EarthLink Notes, which was $198.0 million, $208.3 million, $219.7 million, $232.2 million and $243.1 million as of December 31, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. During November 2006, we issued $258.8 million aggregate principal amount of EarthLink Notes in a registered offering. The EarthLink Notes are convertible on October 15, 2011 and upon certain events. We have the option to redeem the EarthLink Notes, in whole or in part, for cash, on or after November 15, 2011, provided that we have made at least ten semi-annual interest payments. In addition, the holders may require us to purchase all or a portion of the EarthLink Notes on each of November 15, 2011, November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2021. During 2009, we began paying quarterly cash dividends on our common stock. This requires an adjustment to the conversion rate for the EarthLink Notes and opens a conversion period for holders. As a result, the EarthLink Notes were classified as a current liability in our Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2009. On November 15, 2011, holders of the EarthLink Notes have the right under the governing

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    indenture to require the Company to repurchase the EarthLink Notes. As a result, we classified the EarthLink Notes as a current liability in the Consolidated Balance Sheet as of December 31, 2010.

    As of December 31, 2010, also includes the carrying amount of the ITC^DeltaCom Notes assumed in our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom in December 2010, which was $351.3 million as of December 31, 2010. The ITC^DeltaCom Notes will mature on April 1, 2016.

Item 7.    Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

        The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Safe Harbor Statement

        The Management's Discussion and Analysis and other portions of this Annual Report on Form 10-K include "forward-looking" statements (rather than historical facts) that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described. Although we believe that the expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot promise that our expectations will turn out to be correct. Our actual results could be materially different from and worse than our expectations. With respect to such forward-looking statements, we seek the protections afforded by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These risks include, without limitation (1) that we may not be able to execute our business strategy to transition to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider, which could adversely impact our results of operations and cash flows; (2) that we may be unsuccessful in making and integrating acquisitions into our business, which could result in operating difficulties, losses and other adverse consequences; (3) that the continuing effects of adverse economic conditions could harm our business; (4) that if we do not continue to innovate and provide products and services that are useful to individual subscribers and business customers, we may not remain competitive, and our revenues and operating results could suffer; (5) that our failure to implement cost reduction initiatives will adversely affect our results of operations; (6) that we will require a significant amount of cash, which may not be available to us, to service our debt and fund our other liquidity needs; (7) that we face significant competition in the Internet industry that could reduce our profitability; (8) that our consumer business is dependent on the availability of third-party network service providers; (9) that the continued decline of our consumer access subscribers, combined with the change in mix of our consumer access base from narrowband to broadband, will adversely affect our results of operations; (10) that our commercial and alliance arrangements may not be renewed or may not generate expected benefits, which could adversely affect our results of operations; (11) that privacy concerns relating to our business could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our services; (12) that changes in technology in the Internet access industry could cause a decline in our business; (13) that we face significant competition in the communications industry that could reduce our profitability; (14) that decisions by the Federal Communications Commission relieving ILECs of certain regulatory requirements, and possible further deregulation in the future, may restrict our ability to provide services and may increase the costs we incur to provide these services; (15) that our wholesale services, including our broadband transport services, will be adversely affected by pricing pressure, network overcapacity, service cancellations and other factors; (16) that our operating performance will suffer if we are not offered competitive rates for the access services we need to provide our long distance services; (17) that we may experience reductions in switched access and reciprocal compensation revenue; (18) that our inability to maintain our network infrastructure, portions of which we do not own, could adversely affect our operating results; (19) that if we are unable to interconnect with AT&T, Verizon and other incumbent carriers on acceptable terms, our ability to offer competitively priced local telephone services will be adversely affected; (20) that we may not be able to compete effectively if we are unable to install additional network equipment or convert our network to more advanced technology; (21) that failure to

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obtain and maintain necessary permits and rights-of-way could interfere with our network infrastructure and operations; (22) that we may be unable to retain sufficient qualified personnel, and the loss of any of our key executive officers could adversely affect us; (23) that interruption or failure of our network and information systems and other technologies could impair our ability to provide our services, which could damage our reputation and harm our operating results; (24) that our business depends on effective business support systems and processes; (25) that government regulations could adversely affect our business or force us to change our business practices; (26) that our business may suffer if third parties used for customer service and technical support and certain billing services are unable to provide these services or terminate their relationships with us; (27) that we may not be able to protect our intellectual property; (28) that we may be accused of infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties, which is costly to defend and could limit our ability to use certain technologies in the future; (29) that if we, or other industry participants, are unable to successfully defend against legal actions, we could face substantial liabilities or suffer harm to our financial and operational prospects; (30) that we may be required to recognize additional impairment charges on our goodwill and intangible assets, which would adversely affect our results of operations and financial position; (31) that we may have to undertake further restructuring plans that would require additional charges, including incurring facility exit and restructuring charges; (32) that we may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities and the use of our net operating losses and certain other tax attributes could be limited in the future; (33) that we may reduce, or cease payment of, quarterly cash dividends; (34) that our stock price may be volatile; (35) that our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and limit our ability to react to changes in our industry; and (36) that provisions of our second restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and other elements of our capital structure could limit our share price and delay a change of management. These risks and uncertainties are described in greater detail in Item 1A of Part I, "Risk Factors."

Overview

        EarthLink, Inc., together with its consolidated subsidiaries, provides a comprehensive suite of communications services to individual and business customers. We operate two reportable segments, Consumer Services and Business Services. Our Consumer Services segment provides nationwide Internet access and related value-added services to individual customers. These services include dial-up and high-speed Internet access services, ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, search and advertising. Our Business Services segment provides integrated communications and related value-added services to businesses, enterprise organizations and communications carriers. These services include data services, including managed IP-based network services and broadband Internet access services; voice services, including local exchange, long-distance and conference calling; mobile data and voice services; and web hosting. We provide our consumer services primarily through third-party telecommunications service providers, and we provide our business services primarily through a nationwide fiber optic-based network utilizing Multi-Protocol Label Switching ("MPLS") and other technologies and a 14-state fiber optic network. We also sell transmission capacity to other communications providers on a wholesale basis. For further information concerning our business segments, see Note 18, "Segment Information," of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8 of Part II for additional information.

        During 2010, we entered into two transactions that we believe will transform our business from being primarily an Internet services provider ("ISP") to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. The transactions will allow us to offer a more robust suite of business services, including data, voice and video, and to create more scale in the markets we serve. In December 2010, we completed the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, Inc. ("ITC^DeltaCom"), a provider of integrated communications services to customers in the southeastern U.S. We acquired 100% of ITC^DeltaCom in a merger transaction valued at approximately $524 million, with ITC^DeltaCom surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of EarthLink, Inc. ITC^DeltaCom is included in our Business Services segment. Also in

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December 2010, we entered into an agreement to acquire One Communications Corp. ("One Communications"), a privately-held integrated telecommunications solutions provider serving customers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest. Under the terms of the merger agreement, we will acquire 100% of One Communications in a merger transaction valued at approximately $370 million with One Communications surviving as a wholly-owned subsidiary of EarthLink, Inc. The completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011.

Business Strategy

        Our primary business strategy is to transition our business to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. We also continue to focus on optimizing our Customer Services segment operations, maintaining our operational efficiency and pursuing potential strategic acquisitions.

        Transitioning to a Leading IP Infrastructure and Managed Services Provider.    We are focused on transitioning our company to a leading IP infrastructure and managed services provider. We plan to combine our existing business services with the integrated communications businesses of our recent acquisition, ITC^DeltaCom, and our pending acquisition, One Communications, and offer a comprehensive suite of business services under a new brand, EarthLink Business. We are focused on combining our service offerings and sales forces, expanding service offerings that will be attractive to multi-location business customers, promoting awareness of our new brand and integrating our acquisitions to achieve operating synergies, cost savings and revenue enhancements. These recent acquisitions will allow us to continue to offer a bundled package of value-added communications services to our business customers, which we believe is an attractive means of delivering communications solutions, thereby increasing retention rates and limiting customer churn. We believe this transition supports our long-term strategic direction and will further our objectives of strengthening our competitive position, expanding our customer base, providing greater scale to accelerate innovation, providing our employees with an attractive career path and increasing stockholder value.

        Optimizing our Consumer Services Segment Operations.    In our Consumer Services segment, we remain focused on retaining our customers and building long-term customer relationships based on customized service offerings and superior customer service. We believe focusing on the customer relationship increases loyalty and reduces churn. Satisfied customers provide cost benefits, including reduced contact center support costs and reduced bad debt expense. We continue to focus on offering our services with high-quality customer service and technical support. We also continue to seek to add customers that generate an acceptable rate of return, including through alliances, partnerships and acquisitions from other ISPs. We also intend to continue to use cash generated from our Consumer Services operations to fund growth under our acquisition strategy in our Business Services segment.

        Maintaining our Operational Efficiency.    Our operating framework includes a disciplined focus on operational efficiency. In our Consumer Services segment, we intend to continue to improve the cost structure of our business, without impacting the quality of services we provide. In our Business Services segment, we intend to use this disciplined focus on operational efficiency to create synergies from our recent and potential future acquisitions. We also plan to continue to implement cost reduction initiatives and to manage our business more efficiently, including outsourcing certain functions, managing our network costs, consolidating or closing certain facilities, implementing workforce reduction initiatives, reducing and more efficiently handling the number of calls to contact centers and streamlining our internal processes and operations.

        Pursuing Potential Strategic Acquisitions.    In addition to the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and the pending acquisition of One Communications, we will continue to evaluate and consider other potential strategic transactions that we believe will complement our business. We have recently entered into an agreement to acquire Saturn Telecommunication Services Inc. ("STS Telecom"), a privately-held company

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that operates a sophisticated VoIP platform that we plan to leverage on a nationwide basis as part of our Business Service offerings. Our acquisition strategy may also include investment in additional network depth in geographic areas that complement our recently acquired fiber network or acquiring customers within our network to create more scale.

        The primary challenges we face in executing our business strategy for our Business Services segment are continuing to develop new profitable managed services offerings that will be attractive to multi-location customers, successfully integrating our acquisitions to achieve expected synergies and cost savings, responding to competitive and economic pressures in the communications industry and adapting to regulatory changes and initiatives. The primary challenges we face in executing our business strategy for our Consumer Services segment are managing the rate of decline in our consumer revenues, implementing outsourcing and other cost-saving initiatives, and operating our network cost-effectively, including network services purchased from third-party telecommunications service providers. The factors we believe are instrumental to the achievement of our business strategy may be subject to competitive, regulatory and other events and circumstances that are beyond our control. Further, we can provide no assurance that we will be successful in achieving any or all of the strategies identified above, that the achievement or existence of such strategies will favorably impact profitability, or that other factors will not arise that would adversely affect future profitability.

Revenue Sources

        Consumer Services.    Our Consumer Services segment earns revenue from narrowband access services (including traditional, fully-featured narrowband access and value-priced narrowband access) and broadband access services (including high-speed access via DSL and cable and Voice-over-Internet Protocol ("VoIP")). Our Consumer Services segment also earns revenues from value-added services, which include revenues from ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, such as security products, premium email only, home networking, email storage and Internet call waiting; search revenues; and advertising revenues. Revenues from access services generally consist of recurring monthly charges for such services; usage fees; installation fees; termination fees; and fees for equipment. Value-added services revenues consist of fees charged for ancillary services; fees charged for paid placements for searches, powered by the Google™ search engine; fees generated through revenue sharing arrangements with online partners whose products and services can be accessed through our web properties; commissions received from partners for the sale of partners' services to our subscribers; and fees charged for advertising on our various web properties.

        Business Services.    Our Business Services segment earns revenue by providing high-speed or broadband data communications services, which include managed IP-based networks and Internet access; voice services, which include local exchange services, long distance and conference calling services; mobile voice and data services; and the sale of transmission capacity to other telecommunications carriers. Revenues from these services generally consist of recurring monthly charges for such services; usage fees; installation fees; and termination fees. Our Business Services segment also earns revenue by providing web hosting services. Web hosting revenues consist of fees charged for leasing server space and providing web services to enable customers to build and maintain an effective online presence.

Trends in our Business

        Consumer services.    We operate in the Internet access services market, which is characterized by intense competition, changing technology, changes in customer needs and new service and product introductions. Consumers continue to migrate from dial-up to broadband access service due to the faster connection and download speeds provided by broadband access, the ability to free up their phone lines and the more reliable and "always on" connection. The pricing for broadband services has been declining, making it a more viable option for consumers who continue to rely on dial-up connections for Internet access. In addition, advanced applications such as online gaming, music downloads, videos and social

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networking require greater bandwidth for optimal performance, which adds to the demand for broadband access. Our narrowband subscriber base and revenues have been declining and are expected to continue to decline due to the continued maturation of the market for narrowband access. Changes in technology, such as an increasing number of computer manufacturers not pre-loading dial-up modems and cable system upgrades which allow cable companies to provide broadband capable of peak download speeds in excess of 50 Mbps, also may affect our consumer access services. Additionally, our consumer access services are discretionary and dependent upon levels of consumer spending. Unfavorable economic conditions could cause customers to slow spending in the future, which could adversely affect our revenues and churn.

        In light of the continued maturation of the market for narrowband access, we continue to reduce our sales and marketing efforts and to focus instead on retention of customers and on marketing channels that we believe will produce an acceptable rate of return. While this strategy has resulted in a decline in our revenues, we expect the rate of revenue decline to decrease as our subscriber base becomes more tenured and churn rates decline. Our consumer subscriber churn rate improved from 3.6% during the year ended December 31, 2009 to 3.0% during the year ended December 31, 2010.

        Consistent with trends in the Internet access industry, the mix of our consumer access subscriber base has been shifting from narrowband access to broadband access customers. Consumer broadband access revenues have lower gross margins than narrowband revenues due to the costs associated with delivering broadband services. This change in mix has negatively affected our profitability and we expect this trend to continue as broadband subscribers continue to become a greater proportion of our consumer access subscriber base. However, our consumer broadband access customers also have lower churn rates than our consumer narrowband access customers. Accordingly, we expect to realize benefits from a more tenured subscriber base, such as reduced support costs and lower bad debt expense.

        Business services.    We operate in the communications industry, which is characterized by industry consolidation, an evolving regulatory environment, the emergence of new technologies and intense competition. We sell our services to end user business customers and to wholesale customers. Our end users range from large enterprises with many locations, to small and medium-sized multi-site businesses to business customers with one site. Many of our end user customers are retail businesses. Our wholesale customers consist primarily of telecommunications carriers and network resellers. Our business has become more focused on end users as a result of consolidation in the telecommunications industry. We have continued to experience adverse trends related to our wholesale service offerings which have resulted primarily from a reduction in rates charged to our customers due to overcapacity in the broadband services business and from service cancellations by some customers. In addition merger and acquisition transactions have created more significant competitors for us and have reduced the number of vendors from which we may purchase network elements we leverage to operate our business.

        Our business customers, including retail businesses, are particularly exposed to a weak economy. We believe that the financial and economic pressures faced by our business customers in this environment of diminished consumer spending, corporate downsizing and tightened credit have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on billable minutes of use and on customer attrition rates, and have resulted in and may continue to result in increased customer demands for price reductions in connection with contract renewals. We have experienced pressure on revenue and operating expenses for our business services as a result of current economic conditions, including increased subscriber acquisition and retention costs necessary to attract and retain subscribers.

2010 Highlights

        Total revenues decreased $101.5 million, or 14%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. This was primarily due to a decrease in our consumer subscriber base, from approximately 2.0 million paying subscribers as of December 31, 2009 to approximately 1.6 million paying subscribers as of December 31, 2010, as a result of reduced sales and marketing activities, continued

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competitive pressures and continued maturation of the narrowband Internet access market. Partially offsetting the decline in total revenues was an $81.1 million, or 15%, decline in total operating costs and expenses. Total operating costs and expenses decreased as our overall subscriber base has decreased and become longer tenured. Our longer tenured customers require less customer service and technical support and have a lower frequency of non-payment. We also experienced benefits from workforce reduction initiatives and other cost cutting initiatives. Net income decreased $205.6 million, from $287.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2009 to $81.5 million during the year ended December 31, 2010. The decrease in net income was primarily due to a $182.9 million increase in our income tax provision, as we recorded an income tax benefit in the prior year due to the release of a significant portion of our valuation allowance, and a decrease in revenues, partially offset by the decrease in total operating expenses.

Looking Ahead

        In our Consumer Services segment, we expect revenues to continue to decrease as a result of reduced sales and marketing efforts and as the market for Internet access continues to mature. However, we expect the rate of revenue decline to continue to decelerate as our customer base becomes longer tenured and churn rates go down. Consistent with trends in the Internet access industry, we expect the mix of our consumer access subscriber base to continue to shift from narrowband access to broadband access customers, which will negatively affect our profitability due to the higher costs associated with delivering broadband services. We will continue to seek cost reduction initiatives, such as consolidating data centers and proprietary platforms. However, we believe that large-scale cost reduction opportunities in our Consumer Services segment will be more limited in the future and these initiatives may be costly to implement.

        In our Business Services segment, we expect revenues to increase due to the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom's revenues in our results for a full year and due to potential future acquisitions, including One Communications. However, we expect economic conditions and competitive pressures to put continued pressure on revenue and churn rates for our business services. We also expect operating expenses to increase due to the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom's costs and expenses for a full year. We expect the One Communications transaction to close in the second quarter of 2011. We expect to incur additional closing and transaction costs, as well as integration costs related to both transactions. Once the businesses are integrated, we expect to realize cost synergies from the combined businesses. However, we expect to incur upfront costs to gain these synergies. Such costs may include severance and employee benefits or the elimination of duplicate facilities and contracts, and may result in additional restructuring activities.

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Consolidated Results of Operations

        The following table sets forth statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009:

 
  Year Ended December 31,    
   
 
 
  2008   2009   Change Between
2008 and 2009
 
 
   
  % of
Revenue
   
  % of
Revenue
 
 
  Amount   Amount   Amount   %  
 
  (dollars in thousands)
 

Revenues

  $ 955,577     100 % $ 723,729     100 % $ (231,848 )   -24 %

Operating costs and expenses:

                                     
 

Cost of revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

    349,467     37 %   265,668     37 %   (83,799 )   -24 %
 

Selling, general and administrative (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

    317,356     33 %   222,181     31 %   (95,175 )   -30 %
 

Depreciation and amortization

    36,333     4 %   23,962     3 %   (12,371 )   -34 %
 

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

    78,672     8 %   24,145     3 %   (54,527 )   -69 %
 

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

    9,142     1 %   5,615     1 %   (3,527 )   -39 %
                                 
   

Total operating costs and expenses

    790,970     83 %   541,571     75 %   (249,399 )   -32 %
   

Income from operations

    164,607     17 %   182,158     25 %   17,551     11 %

Gain (loss) on investments, net

    2,708     0 %   (1,321 )   0 %   (4,029 )   -149 %

Interest expense and other, net

    (12,409 )   -1 %   (19,804 )   -3 %   (7,395 )   60 %
                                 
   

Income from continuing operations

                                     
     

before income taxes

    154,906     16 %   161,033     22 %   6,127     4 %

Income tax benefit

    32,184     3 %   126,085     17 %   93,901     292 %
                                 
   

Income from continuing operations

    187,090     20 %   287,118     40 %   100,028     53 %

Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

    (8,506 )   -1 %       0 %   8,506     -100 %
                                 
   

Net income

  $ 178,584     19 % $ 287,118     40 % $ 108,534     61 %
                                 

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        The following comparison of statement of operations data is affected by our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom on December 8, 2010. ITC^DeltaCom's results are included in our operating results beginning on December 8, 2010. The following table sets forth statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,    
   
 
 
  2009   2010   Change Between
2009 and 2010
 
 
   
  % of
Revenue
   
  % of
Revenue
 
 
  Amount   Amount   Amount   %  
 
  (dollars in thousands)
 

Revenues

  $ 723,729     100 % $ 622,212     100 % $ (101,517 )   -14 %

Operating costs and expenses:

                                     
 

Cost of revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

    265,668     37 %   234,633     38 %   (31,035 )   -12 %
 

Selling, general and administrative (exclusive of of depreciation and amotization shown separately below)

    222,181     31 %   178,417     29 %   (43,764 )   -20 %
 

Depreciation and amortization

    23,962     3 %   23,390     4 %   (572 )   -2 %
 

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

    24,145     3 %   1,711     0 %   (22,434 )   -93 %
 

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

    5,615     1 %   22,368     4 %   16,753     298 %
                                 
   

Total operating costs and expenses

    541,571     75 %   460,519     74 %   (81,052 )   -15 %
   

Income from operations

    182,158     25 %   161,693     26 %   (20,465 )   -11 %

Gain (loss) on investments, net

    (1,321 )   0 %   572     0 %   1,893     -143 %

Interest expense and other, net

    (19,804 )   -3 %   (23,981 )   -4 %   (4,177 )   21 %
                                 
   

Income from continuing operations

                                     
     

before income taxes

    161,033     22 %   138,284     22 %   (22,749 )   -14 %

Income tax benefit (provision)

    126,085     17 %   (56,804 )   -9 %   (182,889 )   -145 %
                                 
   

Net income

  $ 287,118     40 % $ 81,480     13 % $ (205,638 )   -72 %
                                 

Segment Results of Operations

        We operate two reportable segments, Consumer Services and Business Services. We present our segment information along the same lines that our chief executive reviews our operating results in assessing performance and allocating resources. Our Consumer Services segment provides nationwide Internet access and related value-added services to individual customers. These services include dial-up and high-speed Internet access services, ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, search and advertising. Our Business Services segment provides integrated communications services and related value-added services to businesses, enterprise organizations and communications carriers. These services include data services, including managed IP-based network services and broadband Internet access services; voice services, including local exchange, long-distance and conference calling; mobile data and voice services; and web hosting. We also sell transmission capacity in our fiber network to other communications providers on a wholesale basis.

        We evaluate the performance of our operating segments based on segment income from operations. Segment income from operations includes revenues from external customers, related cost of revenues and operating expenses directly attributable to the segment, which include expenses over which segment managers have direct discretionary control, such as advertising and marketing programs, customer support expenses, operations expenses, product development expenses, certain technology and facilities expenses,

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billing operations and provisions for doubtful accounts. Segment income from operations excludes other income and expense items and certain expenses over which segment managers do not have discretionary control. Costs excluded from segment income from operations include various corporate expenses (consisting of certain costs such as corporate management, human resources, finance and legal), depreciation and amortization, impairment of goodwill and intangible assets, restructuring and acquisition-related costs and stock-based compensation expense, as they are not considered in the measurement of segment performance.

        The following table sets forth segment data for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,   2009 vs. 2008   2010 vs. 2009  
 
  2008   2009   2010   $ Change   % Change   $ Change   % Change  
 
  (dollars in thousands)
 

Consumer Services

                                           
 

Revenues

  $ 779,876   $ 575,412   $ 461,448   $ (204,464 )   -26 % $ (113,964 )   -20 %
 

Cost of revenues

    255,170     183,248     143,956     (71,922 )   -28 %   (39,292 )   -21 %
                                   
 

Gross margin

    524,706     392,164     317,492     (132,542 )   -25 %   (74,672 )   -19 %
 

Direct segment operating expenses

    193,799     122,575     87,660     (71,224 )   -37 %   (34,915 )   -28 %
                                   
 

Segment operating income

  $ 330,907   $ 269,589   $ 229,832   $ (61,318 )   -19 % $ (39,757 )   -15 %
                                   

Business Services

                                           
 

Revenues

  $ 175,701   $ 148,317   $ 160,764   $ (27,384 )   -16 % $ 12,447     8 %
 

Cost of revenues

    94,297     82,420     90,677     (11,877 )   -13 %   8,257     10 %
                                   
 

Gross margin

    81,404     65,897     70,087     (15,507 )   -19 %   4,190     6 %
 

Direct segment operating expenses

    49,082     40,249     50,096     (8,833 )   -18 %   9,847     24 %
                                   
 

Segment operating income

  $ 32,322   $ 25,648   $ 19,991   $ (6,674 )   -21 % $ (5,657 )   -22 %
                                   

Consolidated

                                           
 

Revenues

  $ 955,577   $ 723,729   $ 622,212   $ (231,848 )   -24 % $ (101,517 )   -14 %
 

Cost of revenues

    349,467     265,668     234,633     (83,799 )   -24 %   (31,035 )   -12 %
                                   
 

Gross margin

    606,110     458,061     387,579     (148,049 )   -24 %   (70,482 )   -15 %
 

Direct segment operating expenses

    242,881     162,824     137,756     (80,057 )   -33 %   (25,068 )   -15 %
                                   
 

Segment operating income

    363,229     295,237     249,823     (67,992 )   -19 %   (45,414 )   -15 %
 

Stock-based compensation expense

    20,133     13,231     9,959     (6,902 )   -34 %   (3,272 )   -25 %
 

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

    78,672     24,145     1,711     (54,527 )   -69 %   (22,434 )   -93 %
 

Depreciation and amortization

    36,333     23,962     23,390     (12,371 )   -34 %   (572 )   -2 %
 

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

    9,142     5,615     22,368     (3,527 )   -39 %   16,753     298 %
 

Other operating expenses

    54,342     46,126     30,702     (8,216 )   -15 %   (15,424 )   -33 %
                                   
 

Income from operations

  $ 164,607   $ 182,158   $ 161,693   $ 17,551     11 % $ (20,465 )   -11 %
                                   

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Consumer Operating Metrics

        We utilize certain non-financial and operating measures to assess our financial performance. Terms such as churn and average revenue per user ("ARPU") are terms commonly used in our industry. The following table sets forth subscriber and operating data for the periods indicated:

 
 
December 31,
2008
  December 31,
2009
  December 31,
2010
 

Consumer Subscriber Detail (a)

                   

Narrowband access subscribers

    1,747,000     1,225,000     932,000  

Broadband access subscribers

    896,000     804,000     704,000  
               

Subscribers at end of year

    2,643,000     2,029,000     1,636,000  
               

 

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  

Consumer Subscriber Activity

                   

Subscribers at beginning of year

    3,683,000     2,643,000     2,029,000  

Gross organic subscriber additions

    637,000     399,000     265,000  

Acquired subscribers

    8,000          

Adjustment (b)

    (15,000 )   (7,000 )    

Churn

    (1,670,000 )   (1,006,000 )   (658,000 )
               

Subscribers at end of year

    2,643,000     2,029,000     1,636,000  
               

Consumer Metrics

                   

Average subscribers (c)

    3,130,000     2,310,000     1,817,000  

ARPU (d)

  $ 20.76   $ 20.76   $ 21.16  

Churn rate (e)

    4.4 %   3.6 %   3.0 %

(a)
Subscriber counts do not include nonpaying customers. Customers receiving service under promotional programs that include periods of free service at inception are not included in subscriber counts until they become paying customers.

(b)
During the year ended December 31, 2008, we removed 15,000 EarthLink-supported Sprint customers from our broadband subscriber counts. During the year ended December 31, 2009, we removed approximately 7,000 satellite subscribers from our broadband subscriber count and total subscriber count as a result of our sale of these subscriber accounts.

(c)
Average subscribers or accounts is calculated by averaging the ending monthly subscribers or accounts for the thirteen months preceding and including the end of the year.

(d)
ARPU represents the average monthly revenue per user (subscriber). ARPU is computed by dividing average monthly revenue for the year by the average number of subscribers for the year. Average monthly revenue used to calculate ARPU includes recurring service revenue as well as nonrecurring revenues associated with equipment and other one-time charges associated with initiating or discontinuing services.

(e)
Churn rate is used to measure the rate at which subscribers discontinue service on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Churn rate is computed by dividing the average monthly number of subscribers that discontinued service during the year by the average subscribers for the year. Churn rate for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009 excludes the impact of the adjustments noted in (b) above.

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Business Operating Metrics

 
  December 31,
2008
  December 31,
2009
  December 31,
2010
 

Legacy EarthLink Business Metrics (a)

                   
 

Narrowband access subscribers

    17,000     8,000     7,000  
 

Broadband access subscribers

    59,000     54,000     53,000  
 

Web hosting accounts

    87,000     75,000     66,000  

ITC^DeltaCom Business Metrics (b)

                   
 

Total fiber optic route miles (c)

            16,504  
 

Colocations

            294  
 

Voice and data switches

            20  
 

Retail voice lines

   
   
   
414,000
 
 

Wholesale voice lines

            6,000  
               
 

Total business voice lines

            420,000  

(a)
Legacy EarthLink business metrics consist of metrics related to services in EarthLink's Business Services segment prior to the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom.

(b)
ITC^DeltaCom business metrics consist of metrics related to our newly acquired ITC^DeltaCom business, which is included in our Business Services segment.

(c)
Includes 12,559 route miles owned or obtained through indefeasible rights to use (IRU) and 3,945 marketed and managed route miles.

Results of Operations

Revenues

        The following table presents revenues by groups of similar services and by segment for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,   2009 vs. 2008   2010 vs. 2009  
 
  2008   2009   2010   $ Change   % Change   $ Change   % Change  
 
  (dollars in thousands)
 

Consumer Services

                                           
 

Access and service

  $ 682,135   $ 503,769   $ 403,174   $ (178,366 )   -26 % $ (100,595 )   -20 %
 

Value-added services

    97,741     71,643     58,274     (26,098 )   -27 %   (13,369 )   -19 %
                                   
   

Total revenues

  $ 779,876   $ 575,412   $ 461,448   $ (204,464 )   -26 % $ (113,964 )   -20 %

Business Services

                                           
 

Access and service

  $ 172,944   $ 146,087   $ 158,677   $ (26,857 )   -16 % $ 12,590     9 %
 

Value-added services

    2,757     2,230     2,087     (527 )   -19 %   (143 )   -6 %
                                   
   

Total revenues

  $ 175,701   $ 148,317   $ 160,764   $ (27,384 )   -16 % $ 12,447     8 %

Consolidated

                                           
 

Access and service

  $ 855,079   $ 649,856   $ 561,851   $ (205,223 )   -24 % $ (88,005 )   -14 %
 

Value-added services

    100,498     73,873     60,361     (26,625 )   -26 %   (13,512 )   -18 %
                                   
   

Total revenues

  $ 955,577   $ 723,729   $ 622,212   $ (231,848 )   -24 % $ (101,517 )   -14 %
                                   

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Consolidated revenues

        The primary component of our revenues is access and service revenues, which consist of narrowband access services (including traditional, fully-featured narrowband access and value-priced narrowband access); broadband access services (including high-speed access via cable and DSL; VoIP; and managed IP-based wide area networks); voice services (including local exchange services, long distance and conference calling services); the sale of transmission capacity to other telecommunications carriers; and web hosting services. We also earn revenues from value-added services, which include revenues from ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, search and advertising.

        Total revenues were $1.0 billion, $0.7 billion and $0.6 billion during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. The decreases over the past three years were primarily due to decreases in our Consumer Services segment, resulting from decreases in average consumer subscribers, which were approximately 3.1 million, 2.3 million and 1.8 million during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. These decreases were driven by declines in narrowband and broadband subscribers, due to reduced sales and marketing efforts, continued maturation in the market for Internet access and competitive pressures in the industry. Contributing to the decrease in total revenues from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009 was a decrease in our Business Services segment due to economic and competitive pressures. Partially offsetting the decrease in total revenues from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010 was an increase in our Business Services segment due to the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom's revenues for the period December 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

Consumer services revenues

        Access and service.    Access and service revenues consist of recurring monthly charges for narrowband and broadband access services; usage fees; installation fees; termination fees; and fees for equipment. Consumer access and service revenues decreased $178.4 million, or 26%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009 and decreased $100.6 million, or 20%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. The decreases in consumer access and service revenues were due to decreases in narrowband access and broadband access revenues. Average consumer narrowband subscribers were 2.1 million, 1.5 million and 1.1 million during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. Average consumer broadband subscribers were 0.9 million, 0.8 million and 0.7 million during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. Narrowband access comprised a larger portion of the average consumer access subscriber decreases, as average narrowband subscribers were approximately 69%, 63% and 59% of average consumer access subscribers during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. Within narrowband access, our value-priced narrowband services comprised a larger proportion of the total narrowband decrease, as average PeoplePC access subscribers were approximately 47%, 39% and 32% of our average consumer narrowband customer base during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. The decreases in average consumer access subscribers resulted from reduced sales and marketing activities, the continued maturation of and competition in the market for narrowband Internet access and competitive pressures in the industry. However, we continue to focus on the retention of customers and on marketing channels that we believe will produce an acceptable rate of return.

        Offsetting the declines in average consumer subscribers was an improvement in consumer subscriber churn rates, which were 4.4%, 3.6% and 3.0% during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. Churn rates decreased due to the increased tenure of our subscriber base. In addition, the shift in mix of our subscribers from narrowband access to broadband access has also favorably impacted churn, as our broadband access customers have lower churn rates than our narrowband access customers. We expect our consumer access and service subscriber base to continue to decrease due to decreased sales and marketing activities, competitive pressures and the continued maturation of the market for narrowband Internet access. However, as our customers become more tenured, we expect our churn rates to decline.

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        Value-added services revenues.    Value-added services revenues consist of revenues from ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, such as security products, premium email only, home networking, email storage and Internet call waiting; search revenues; and advertising revenues. We derive these revenues from fees charged for ancillary services; fees charged for paid placements for searches, powered by the Google™ search engine; fees generated through revenue sharing arrangements with online partners whose products and services can be accessed through our web properties; commissions received from partners for the sale of partners' services to our subscribers; and fees charged for advertising on our various web properties.

        Value-added services revenues decreased $26.1 million, or 27%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009 and decreased $13.4 million, or 19%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. This was due primarily to decreases in subscribers for ancillary services, primarily security services, and in search advertising revenues. The decreases resulted from the decline in total average consumer subscribers. However, partially offsetting these decreases was an increase in subscription revenue per subscriber.

Business services revenues

        Business services revenues consist primarily of recurring monthly charges; usage fees; installation fees; and termination fees. Business access and service revenues also consist of web hosting revenues from leasing server space and providing web services to enable customers to build and maintain an effective online presence. We sell our services to end-user business customers and to wholesale customers. Our end users range from large enterprises with many locations, to small and medium-sized multi-site businesses to business customers with one site. Our wholesale customers consist primarily of telecommunications carriers. Many of our end user customers are retail businesses.

        Business services revenues decreased $27.4 million, or 16%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease in New Edge revenues resulting from a decrease in average subscribers and an increase in promotions and retention incentives necessary to attract and retain subscribers in a difficult economic environment. Although our churn rates decreased during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the prior period, the number of new customers we were able to add was negatively impacted by economic and competitive pressures. Also contributing to the decrease in business access and service revenues were decreases in average web hosting accounts, average business broadband customers and average business narrowband customers. Business access and service ARPU increased during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the prior period due to the shift in mix of our business access subscriber base from business dial-up and high-speed services to IP-based network services.

        Business services revenues increased $12.4 million, or 8%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. The increase was primarily due to the inclusion of $26.6 million of ITC^DeltaCom revenues for the period December 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010. This was partially offset by a decrease in revenues due to declining business demand and competitive pricing pressures, which has decreased the rate at which we add new customers and increased promotions and retention incentives necessary to attract and retain subscribers. Also contributing to the decrease in business access and service revenues were decreases in average web hosting accounts, average business broadband customers and average business narrowband customers.

Cost of revenues

Consolidated cost of revenues

        Cost of revenues includes costs directly associated with providing services to our customers. Total cost of revenues decreased $83.8 million, or 24%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009. This decrease was comprised of a $71.9 million decrease in consumer services cost of revenues and $11.9 million decrease in business services cost of revenue. Total cost of revenues remained

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constant at 37% of revenues due to our contract renegotiations and internal network cost management efforts which mitigated the effect of the change in mix of our subscriber base to broadband subscribers. Total cost of revenues decreased $31.0 million, or 12%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. This decrease was comprised of a $39.3 million decrease in consumer services cost of revenues, partially offset by an $8.3 million increase in business services cost of revenue. Total cost of revenues increased from 37% of revenues during the year ended December 31, 2009 to 38% of revenues during the year ended December 31, 2010 due to the effect of the change in mix of our subscriber base to broadband subscribers and to business services customers.

Consumer services cost of revenues

        Cost of revenues for our Consumer Services segment primarily consists of telecommunications fees and network operations costs incurred to provide our Internet access services; fees paid to content providers for information provided on our online properties; and the cost of equipment sold to customers for use with our services. Our principal provider for narrowband services is Level 3 Communications, Inc. We also purchase lesser amounts of narrowband services from certain regional and local providers. Our principal providers of broadband connectivity are AT&T Inc., Bright House Networks, Comcast Corporation, Covad Communications Group, Inc., Qwest Corporation, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications, Inc. Cost of revenues for our Consumer Services segment also include sales incentives, which include the cost of promotional products and services provided to potential and new subscribers, including free modems and other hardware and free Internet access on a trial basis.

        Consumer Services cost of revenues decreased $71.9 million, or 28%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009 and decreased $39.3 million, or 21%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. The decreases are primarily due to the decline in average consumer services subscribers. Also contributing was a decline in average consumer cost of revenue per subscriber resulting from contract renegotiations with network service providers and internal network cost management efforts.

Business services cost of revenues

        Cost of revenues for our Business Services segment primarily consists of the cost of connecting customers to our networks via leased facilities; the costs of leasing components of our network facilities; costs paid to third-party providers for interconnect access and transport services; and the cost of equipment sold to customers for use with our services. Business Services cost of revenues decreased $11.9 million, or 13%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009. The decrease in business services cost of revenues was due to a decrease in average business services subscribers resulting from declining business demand and competitive pressures. Business Services cost of revenues increased $8.3 million, or 10%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. The increase in business services cost of revenues increased primarily due to the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom's cost of revenues for the period December 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010. Also contributing was an increase as the product mix of our legacy business services has shifted from legacy wholesale products to IP-based network services. These were offset by a decline in average business services subscribers.

Selling, general and administrative

        Selling, general and administrative expenses consist of expenses related to sales and marketing, customer service, network operations, information technology, regulatory, billing and collections, corporate administration, and legal and accounting. Such costs include salaries and related employee costs (including stock-based compensation), outsourced labor, professional fees, property taxes, travel, insurance, rent, advertising and other administrative expenses.

        Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $95.2 million, or 30%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009. The decrease consisted primarily of decreases in

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personnel-related costs, outsourced labor, advertising expense, bad debt and payment processing fees, legal and professional fees, and occupancy and related costs. The decreases resulted from reduced headcount and continued cost reduction initiatives, reduced discretionary sales and marketing spend, consolidation to primarily one outsourced customer service and technical support provider for our consumer services and cost benefits as our overall subscriber base has decreased and become longer tenured. Longer tenured customers have a lower frequency of non-payment and require less customer service and technical support. Partially offsetting these decreases were costs incurred as a result of certain legal settlements and resolution of various state and local tax issues and audits. As a result of the foregoing, selling, general and administrative expenses decreased from 33% of revenues during the year ended December 31, 2008 to 31% of revenues during year ended December 31, 2009.

        Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $43.8 million, or 20%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. The decrease consisted primarily of decreases in personnel-related costs, outsourced labor, advertising expense, bad debt and payment processing fees and legal and professional fees. The decreases resulted from reduced headcount and continued cost reduction initiatives, reduced discretionary sales and marketing spend, and continued benefits as our overall subscriber base has decreased and become longer tenured. These decreases were partially offset by the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom's selling, general and administrative expenses for the period December 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased from 31% of revenues during the year ended December 31, 2009 to 29% of revenues during year ended December 31, 2010.

Depreciation and amortization

        Depreciation and amortization includes depreciation of property and equipment and amortization of definite-lived intangible assets acquired in purchases of businesses and purchases of customer bases from other companies. Property and equipment is depreciated using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the various asset classes. Definite-lived intangible assets, which primarily consist of subscriber bases and customer relationships, acquired software and technology, trade names and other assets, are amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives, which range from three to six years.

        Depreciation and amortization decreased $12.4 million, or 34%, from the year ended December 31, 2008 to the year ended December 31, 2009. This consisted of a $6.8 million decrease in depreciation expense and a $5.6 million decrease in amortization expense. The decrease in depreciation expense compared to the year ended December 31, 2008 was primarily due to property and equipment becoming fully depreciated over the past year. The decrease in amortization expense compared to the year ended December 31, 2008 was primarily due to certain identifiable definite-lived intangible assets becoming fully amortized over the past year. In addition, we impaired certain identifiable definite-lived intangible assets during the fourth quarter of 2008, which contributed to the decrease in amortization expense.

        Depreciation and amortization decreased $0.6 million, or 2%, from the year ended December 31, 2009 to the year ended December 31, 2010. This consisted of a $2.0 million decrease in amortization expense, partially offset by a $1.4 million increase in depreciation expense. The decrease in amortization expense compared to the year ended December 31, 2009 was due to certain identifiable definite-lived intangible assets becoming fully amortized over the past year, which was partially offset by the inclusion of amortization of acquired ITC^DeltaCom intangible assets for the period December 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010. The increase in depreciation expense compared to the year ended December 31, 2009 was primarily attributable to depreciation expense resulting from property and equipment obtained in the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom. We expect depreciation and amortization to increase in 2011 as a result of property and equipment and definite-lived intangible assets obtained in our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and potential future acqusitions.

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Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

        During the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, we recorded non-cash impairment charges for goodwill and intangible assets of $78.7 million, $24.1 million and $1.7 million, respectively. We test goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment annually or when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable.

        After completing our annual impairment test during the fourth quarter of 2008, we concluded that goodwill and certain intangible assets recorded as a result of our April 2006 acquisition of New Edge were impaired and we recorded non-cash impairment charges related to the New Edge reporting unit of $64.0 million for goodwill, $3.1 million for the indefinite-lived trade name and $11.6 million for customer relationships. The primary factor contributing to the impairment charge was the significant economic downturn. New Edge serves a large percentage of small and medium-sized business customers, especially retail businesses, which were particularly affected by the economic downturn. Economic conditions affecting retail businesses worsened substantially during the "holiday season" in the fourth quarter of 2008. As a result, management updated its long-range financial outlook, which reflected decreased expectations of future growth rates and cash flows for New Edge. We used this updated financial outlook in conjunction with our annual impairment test.

        After completing our annual impairment test during the fourth quarter of 2009, we concluded that goodwill and certain intangible assets recorded as a result of the New Edge acquisition were further impaired and recorded non-cash impairment charges related to the New Edge reporting unit of $23.9 million for goodwill and $0.2 million for the indefinite-lived trade name. As a result, there is no remaining carrying value related to New Edge goodwill. The primary factor contributing to the impairment charge was continued sales pressure in the small and medium-sized business market due to the economy, which adversely impacted our long-range financial outlook.

        The annual impairment test during the fourth quarter of 2010 indicated that the fair value of our reporting units exceeded their carrying values. As a result, we concluded that our remaining goodwill relating to our Consumer Segment was not impaired.

        Goodwill.    Impairment testing of goodwill is required at the reporting unit level and involves a two-step process. As of the date of our annual impairment tests, we operated two reportable segments, Consumer Services and Business Services and had three reporting units for evaluating goodwill, which were Consumer Services, New Edge and Web Hosting. The Consumer Services reportable segment is one reporting unit, while the Business Services reportable segment consisted of two reporting units, New Edge and Web Hosting. Each of these reporting units constitutes a business for which discrete financial information is available and segment management regularly reviews the operating results.

        The first step of the impairment test involves comparing the estimated fair value of our reporting units with the reporting unit's carrying amount, including goodwill. We estimated the fair values of our reporting units primarily using the income approach valuation methodology that included the discounted cash flow method, taking into consideration the market approach and certain market multiples as a validation of the values derived using the discounted cash flow methodology. The discounted cash flows for each reporting unit were based on discrete financial forecasts developed by management for planning purposes. Cash flows beyond the discrete forecasts were estimated by using a terminal value calculation, which incorporated historical and forecasted financial trends for each identified reporting unit.

        Upon completion of the first step of the impairment test during the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, we determined that the carrying value of our New Edge reporting unit exceeded its estimated fair value. Because indicators of impairment existed for this reporting unit, we performed the second step of the test. We determined the implied fair value of goodwill in the same manner used to recognize goodwill in a business combination. To determine the implied value of goodwill, we allocated fair values to the assets and liabilities of the New Edge reporting unit. We calculated the implied fair value of goodwill as the excess of the fair value of the New Edge reporting unit over the amounts assigned to its assets and

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liabilities. We determined the $64.0 million and $23.9 million impairment losses during the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, respectively, as the amount by which the carrying value of goodwill exceeded the implied fair value of the goodwill.

        Indefinite-lived intangible assets.    The impairment test for our indefinite-lived intangible assets, which consist of trade names, involves a comparison of the estimated fair value of the intangible asset with its carrying value. We determined the fair value of our trade names using the royalty savings method, in which the fair value of the asset was calculated based on the present value of the royalty stream that we are saving by owning the asset. Given the economic environment and other factors noted above, we decreased our estimates for revenues associated with our New Edge trade name. As a result, we recorded non-cash impairment charges related to our New Edge trade name of $3.1 million and $0.2 million during the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, respectively. In November of 2010, we decided to re-brand the New Edge Networks name as EarthLink Business. We recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $1.7 million during the year ended December 31, 2010 to write-down our New Edge trade name. As a result, there is no remaining carrying value related to the New Edge trade name.

        Definite-lived intangible assets.    As a result of the goodwill and indefinite-lived asset impairments in the New Edge reporting unit, we also tested this segment's definite-lived intangible assets for impairment. Because of the decrease in expected future cash from such definite-lived intangible assets, we concluded certain customer relationships were not fully recoverable and recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $11.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2008. We did not record any impairment charges for our definite-lived intangible assets during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010.

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

        Restructuring and acquisition-related costs consisted of the following during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands)
 

2007 Restructuring Plan

  $ 9,394   $ 5,743   $ 1,121  

Legacy Restructuring Plans

    (252 )   (128 )   294  
               
 

Total facility exit and restructuring costs

    9,142     5,615     1,415  

Acquisition-related costs

            20,953  
               
 

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

  $ 9,142   $ 5,615   $ 22,368  
               

        2007 Restructuring Plan.    In August 2007, we adopted a restructuring plan to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of our operations ("the 2007 Plan"). The 2007 Plan was the result of a comprehensive review of operations within and across our functions and businesses. Under the 2007 Plan, we reduced our workforce by approximately 900 employees, consolidated our office facilities in Atlanta, Georgia and Pasadena, California and closed office facilities in Orlando, Florida; Knoxville, Tennessee; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California. The 2007 Plan was primarily implemented during the latter half of 2007 and during 2008. Since management continues to evaluate our businesses, there have been and may continue to be supplemental provisions for new plan initiatives as well as changes in estimates to amounts previously recorded. As a result of the 2007 Plan, we recorded facility exit and restructuring costs of $9.4 million, $5.7 million and $1.1 million during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. The asset impairment charges primarily relate to fixed asset write-offs due to facility closings and consolidations and the termination of certain projects for which costs had been capitalized. These assets were impaired as the carrying values of the assets exceeded the expected future undiscounted cash flows to us.

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        Legacy Restructuring Plans.    During the years ended December 31, 2003, 2004 and 2005, we executed a series of plans to restructure and streamline our contact center operations and outsource certain internal functions (collectively referred to as "Legacy Plans"). The Legacy Plans included facility exit costs, personnel-related costs and asset disposals. We periodically evaluate and adjust our estimates for facility exit and restructuring costs based on currently-available information. During the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, we recorded reductions of $0.3 million and $0.1 million, respectively, to facility exit and restructuring costs and during the year ended December 31, 2010, we recorded an additional $0.3 million of facility exit and restructuring costs as a result of changes in estimates for Legacy Plans.

        Acquisition-Related Costs.    Acquisition-related costs consist of external costs directly related to our acquisitions, such as advisory, legal, accounting, valuation and other professional fees. Acquisition-related costs also include employee severance and benefit costs and costs to settle stock-based awards attributable to postcombination service in connection with the ITC^DeltaCom acquisition. Acquisition-related costs consisted of the following during the year ended December 31, 2010:

 
  Year Ended
December 31,
2010
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Transaction related costs

  $ 10,164  

Costs to settle postcombination stock-awards

    5,742  

Severance and retention costs

    5,047  
       
 

Total acquisition-related costs

  $ 20,953  
       

Gain (loss) on investments, net

        Gain (loss) on investments, net, consisted of the following during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Other-than-temporary impairment losses

  $ (3,556 ) $ (9,300 ) $  

Cash distributions from investments

        231      

Gain from sale of Covad common stock

    2,025          

Gain from receipt of Virgin Mobile shares

    4,352          

Gain from receipt and sale of Sprint Nextel shares

        7,641     100  

Net change in fair value of auction rate securities and put right

    (113 )   107     5  

Gains from sales of other investments

            467  
               

  $ 2,708   $ (1,321 ) $ 572  
               

        We had an investment in Covad consisting of 6.1 million shares of Covad common stock. During the year ended December 31, 2008, Platinum Equity, LLC acquired all outstanding shares of Covad. As a result, we received cash of $6.3 million for our 6.1 million shares of Covad common stock and recognized a gain of $2.0 million based on our cost basis of the Covad common stock.

        During the year ended December 31, 2008, we received limited partnership units equivalent to approximately 1.8 million shares of Virgin Mobile common stock in exchange for our investment in HELIO. We recognized a gain of $4.4 million as a result of this transaction. During the year ended December 31, 2009, Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile completed a merger and we received 2.4 million shares of Sprint Nextel common stock for our Virgin Mobile common stock. During the year ended

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December 31, 2009, we sold 2.2 million of the Sprint Nextel shares for net proceeds of $8.2 million. We recorded a $7.6 million gain resulting from the receipt of Sprint Nextel shares and the subsequent sale. During the year ended December 31, 2010, we sold 0.2 million of the Sprint Nextel shares for net proceeds of $1.6 million and recognized a gain of $0.1 million.

        During the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009, we held investments in auction rate securities. These securities were variable-rate debt instruments whose underlying agreements had contractual maturities of up to 40 years, but had interest rate reset periods at pre-determined intervals, usually every 28 days. These securities were predominantly secured by student loans guaranteed by state related higher education agencies and reinsured by the U.S. Department of Education. Beginning in February 2008, auctions for these securities failed to attract sufficient buyers, resulting in us continuing to hold such securities. In October 2008, we entered into an agreement with the broker that sold us our auction rate securities that gave us the right to sell our existing auction rate securities back to the broker at par plus accrued interest, beginning on June 30, 2010 until July 2, 2012 (herein referred to as "put right"). During 2008, we recorded an other-than-temporary impairment of $9.9 million to reflect the auction rate securities at their fair value, as we no longer had the intent to hold the securities until maturity. We also elected a one-time transfer of our auction rate securities from the available-for-sale category to the trading category. We recorded the value of the put right in our Consolidated Balance Sheet with a corresponding $9.8 million gain on investments in the Consolidated Statement of Operations. We elected the fair value option for the put right to offset the fair value changes of the auction rate securities. The other-than-temporary impairment, net of the gain on the put right, was $0.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2008. During the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010, we recorded gains of $4.7 million and $5.3 million, respectively, related to the auction rate securities and recorded losses of $4.6 million and $5.3 million, respectively, related to the put right. The net gains during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010 are included in gain (loss) on investments, net, in the Consolidated Statements of Operations. During the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010, we redeemed $9.6 million and $48.2 million, respectively, of our auction rate securities at par, plus accrued interest. As a result, we no longer held investments in auction rate securities as of December 31, 2010.

Interest expense and other, net

        Interest expense and other, net, is primarily comprised of interest expense incurred on our Convertible Senior Notes due November 15, 2026 (the "EarthLink Notes") and on ITC^DeltaCom's 10.5% senior secured notes due 2016 (the "ITC^DeltaCom Notes"); interest earned on our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities; and other miscellaneous income and expense items.

        Interest expense and other, net, increased $7.4 million, from $12.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2008 to $19.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2009. The increase was primarily due to a decrease in interest earned on our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, despite an increase in our average cash and marketable securities balance, due to lower investment yields from deteriorating financial and credit markets. Also contributing to the increase was an increase in interest expense resulting from an increase in accretion of the debt discount relating to the EarthLink Notes.

        Interest expense and other, net, increased $4.2 million, from $19.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2009 to $24.0 million during the year ended December 31, 2010. The increase was primarily due to the inclusion of ITC^DeltaCom interest expense. In connection with the ITC^DeltaCom acquisition, we assumed $325.0 million aggregate principal amount of the ITC^DeltaCom Notes. Also contributing to the increase was an increase in interest expense resulting from an increase in accretion of the debt discount relating to the EarthLink Notes and a decrease in interest earned on our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, despite an increase in our average cash and marketable securities balance, due to lower investment yields.

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Income tax benefit (provision)

        We recognized an income tax benefit of $32.2 million during year ended December 31, 2008. This consisted primarily of a benefit of $56.1 million resulting from the release of a portion of our valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets, primarily related to net operating loss carryforwards. Offsetting this benefit was an income tax provision of $23.9 million recorded during the year ended December 31, 2008. The tax provision consisted of $7.0 million state income and federal and state alternative minimum tax ("AMT") amounts payable due to the net operating loss carryforward limitations associated with the AMT calculation and $16.9 million for non-cash deferred tax provisions associated with the utilization of net operating loss carryforwards which were acquired in connection with acquisitions. We recognized an income tax benefit of $126.1 million during year ended December 31, 2009. This benefit consisted primarily of a benefit of $198.8 million resulting from the release of a portion of our valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets, primarily related to net operating loss carryforwards. During the year ended December 31, 2009, we determined we will more likely than not be able to utilize these deferred tax assets due to the generation of sufficient taxable income in the future. Offsetting this benefit was an income tax provision of $72.6 million, consisting of $9.3 million state income and federal and state AMT amounts payable and $63.3 million for non-cash deferred tax provisions associated with the utilization of net operating loss carryforwards. We recognized an income tax provision of $56.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2010, which consisted of $7.3 million state income and federal and state AMT amounts payable due to the net operating loss carryforward limitations associated with the AMT calculation and $49.5 million for non-cash deferred tax provisions associated with the utilization of net operating loss carryforwards.

        As of December 31, 2010, we maintained a valuation allowance of $39.2 million against certain deferred tax assets. Of this amount, $31.6 million relates to net operating losses generated by the tax benefits of stock-based compensation. The valuation allowance will be removed upon utilization of these net operating losses as an adjustment to additional paid-in-capital. A valuation allowance of $7.2 million relates to net operating losses in certain jurisdictions where we believe it is "not more likely than not" to be realized in future periods. In addition, a valuation allowance of $0.4 million was established in 2010 relating to stock compensation deferred tax assets.

        To the extent we report income in future periods, we intend to use our net operating loss carryforwards to the extent available to offset taxable income and reduce cash outflows for income taxes. Our ability to use our federal and state net operating loss carryforwards and federal and state tax credit carryforwards may be subject to restrictions attributable to certain transactions such as equity transactions in the future resulting from changes in ownership as defined under the Internal Revenue Code.

        As a result of our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom in December 2010, we increased our net deferred tax assets by $70.7 million. Included in this amount is $123.3 of deferred tax assets relating to federal and state net operating losses. These amounts also include a valuation allowance of $5.6 million for certain jurisdictions.

Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

        Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax, during the year ended December 31, 2008 reflects our municipal wireless broadband operations. In November 2007, management concluded that our municipal wireless broadband operations were no longer consistent with our strategic direction and our Board of Directors authorized management to pursue the divestiture of our municipal wireless broadband assets. The municipal wireless results of operations were previously included in our Consumer Services segment. As of December 31, 2008, the divestiture of our municipal wireless broadband assets was complete.

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        The following table presents summarized results of operations related to our discontinued operations for the year ended December 31, 2008:

 
  Year Ended
December 31,
2008
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Revenues

  $ 1,305  

Operating costs and expenses

    (4,569 )

Impairment, facility exit and restructuring costs

    (6,326 )

Income tax benefit

    1,084  
       

Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

  $ (8,506 )
       

Stock-Based Compensation

        We measure stock-based compensation cost for all stock awards at fair value on the date of grant and recognition of compensation over the requisite service period for awards expected to vest. The fair value of our stock options is estimated using the Black-Scholes valuation model, and the fair value of restricted stock units is determined based on the number of shares granted and the quoted price of our common stock on the date of grant. Such value is recognized as expense over the requisite service period, net of estimated forfeitures, using the straight-line attribution method. For performance-based awards, we recognize expense over the requisite service period, net of estimated forfeitures, using the accelerated attribution method when it is probable that the performance measure will be achieved. The estimate of awards that will ultimately vest requires significant judgment, and to the extent actual results or updated estimates differ from management's current estimates, such amounts will be recorded as a cumulative adjustment in the period estimates are revised. We consider many factors when estimating expected forfeitures, including types of awards, employee class and historical employee attrition rates. Actual results, and future changes in estimates, may differ substantially from our current estimates.

        Stock-based compensation expense was $20.1 million, $13.2 million and $10.0 million during the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. Stock-based compensation expense is classified within selling, general and administrative expenses, which is the same operating expense line item as cash compensation paid to employees.

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Facility Exit and Restructuring Costs

        2007 Plan.    We expect to incur future cash outflows for real estate obligations through 2014 related to the 2007 Plan. The following table summarizes activity for the liability balances associated with the 2007 Plan for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, including changes during the year attributable to costs incurred and charged to expense and costs paid or otherwise settled:

 
  Severance
and Benefits
  Facilities   Asset
Impairments
  Total  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Balance as of December 31, 2007

  $ 12,041   $ 16,124   $   $ 28,165  
 

Accruals

    461     4,808     4,125     9,394  
 

Payments

    (12,502 )   (6,174 )       (18,676 )
 

Non-cash charges

        1,936     (4,125 )   (2,189 )
                   

Balance as of December 31, 2008

        16,694         16,694  
 

Accruals

        5,697     46     5,743  
 

Payments

        (5,442 )       (5,442 )
 

Non-cash charges

        489     (46 )   443  
                   

Balance as of December 31, 2009

        17,438         17,438  
 

Accruals

        1,012     109     1,121  
 

Payments

        (5,205 )       (5,205 )
 

Non-cash charges

        368     (109 )   259  
                   

Balance as of December 31, 2010

  $   $ 13,613   $   $ 13,613  
                   

        Legacy Plans.    As of December 31, 2010, all other costs associated with the Legacy Plans had been paid or otherwise settled.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

        The following table sets forth summarized cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010:

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Net income

  $ 178,584   $ 287,118   $ 81,480  

Non-cash items

    112,307     (58,711 )   98,871  

Changes in working capital

    (60,279 )   (19,785 )   (25,902 )
               

Net cash provided by operating activities

  $ 230,612   $ 208,622   $ 154,449  
               

Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities

  $ 107,124   $ (37,121 ) $ (454,193 )
               

Net cash used in financing activities

  $ (24,999 ) $ (47,070 ) $ (68,299 )
               

Operating activities

        Net cash provided by operating activities decreased during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010 primarily due to decreases in revenues as our overall subscriber base has decreased. However, this decrease was partially offset by reduced sales and marketing spending, reduced telecommunication costs and reduced customer support and bad debt expense as our overall subscriber base has decreased and become longer tenured, and reduced back-office support costs.

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        Non-cash items include items that are not expected to generate or require the use of cash, such as depreciation and amortization relating to our network, facilities and intangible assets, net losses of equity affiliate, deferred income taxes, stock-based compensation, non-cash disposals and impairments of fixed assets, impairments of goodwill and intangible assets, gain (loss) on investments, net, amortization of debt discount, premium and issuance costs. The changes in non-cash items over the past two years was primarily due to noncash income taxes, as we recognized income tax benefits during the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2009 resulting from releases of our valuation allowance and recognized an income tax provision during the year ended December 31, 2010. Also contributing to the changes in non-cash items over the past two years were decreases in impairment of goodwill and intangible assets, depreciation and amortization expense and stock-based compensation.

        Changes in working capital requirements include changes in accounts receivable, prepaid and other assets, accounts payable, accrued and other liabilities and deferred revenue. Cash used for working capital requirements decreased during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the prior year primarily due to reduced back office support and sales and marketing spending. Also contributing to the decrease were decreases in payments resulting from the 2007 Plan and from the discontinuation of our municipal wireless broadband operations. Cash used for working capital requirements increased during the year ended December 31, 2010 compared to the prior year primarily due to certain one-time payments relating to our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, including severance and related benefits and investment advisory and other professional fees, certain legal settlements and certain state and local tax audits and an increase in payments for workforce reduction initiatives.

Investing activities

        Our investing activities provided cash of $107.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2008. This consisted primarily of $57.1 million received for our Covad investment and $56.9 million of sales and maturities of investments in marketable securities, net of purchases. In April 2008, Platinum Equity, LLC acquired all outstanding shares of Covad. As a result, we received cash of $50.8 million for the aggregate principal amount of the 12% Senior Secured Convertible Notes due 2011 held by us plus accrued interest in April 2008 and we received cash of $6.3 million for our 6.1 million shares of Covad common stock in May 2008. The decreases were offset by $5.7 million of capital expenditures and $1.2 million used to purchase subscriber bases from other ISPs.

        Our investing activities used cash of $37.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2009. This consisted primarily of $32.4 million of purchases of investments in marketable securities, net of sales and maturities, and $13.1 million of capital expenditures, primarily associated with network and technology center related projects. This was offset by $8.4 million of proceeds received from investments in other companies. During the year ended December 31, 2009, we sold 2.2 million of our Sprint Nextel shares for net proceeds of $8.2 million and received $0.2 million in cash distributions from one of our investments.

        Our investing activities used cash of $454.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2010. This consisted primarily of $192.3 million of net cash used for the acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom and $9.1 million of cash paid to settle stock-based awards in connection with the acquisition. We also used $229.5 million of purchases of investments in marketable securities, net of sales and maturities, as we invested some of our excess cash in longer-term marketable securities. Included in the net purchase amount was $48.2 million of proceeds received from the sale of auction rate securities. We also used cash of $24.0 million for capital expenditures, primarily associated with network and technology center related projects, which includes incremental capital spending for ITC^DeltaCom. Partially offsetting these amounts was $1.6 million of proceeds received from the sale of certain investments.

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Financing activities

        Our financing activities used cash of $25.0 million during the year ended December 31, 2008. This consisted primarily of $31.9 million used to repurchase 3.8 million shares of our common stock and $2.7 million to pay off a capital lease obligation. Included in the share repurchase amount is the repurchase of approximately 2.5 million shares of common stock for approximately $22.7 million in connection with the termination of our convertible note hedge and warrant agreements. In connection with the issuance of the EarthLink Notes, we entered into separate convertible note hedge transactions and separate warrant transactions with respect to our common stock to minimize the impact of the potential dilution upon conversion of the EarthLink Notes. In September 2008, we terminated our convertible note hedge and warrant agreements purchased approximately the shares of common stock the counterparties held in hedge positions. Partially offsetting cash used for repurchases were proceeds of $8.1 million from the exercise of stock options.

        Our financing activities used cash of $47.1 million during year ended December 31, 2009. This consisted primarily of $30.0 million for payment of dividends and $22.3 million used to repurchase 3.6 million shares of our common stock, offset by $5.3 million of proceeds from the exercise of stock options.

        Our financing activities used cash of $68.3 million during the year ended December 31, 2010. This consisted primarily of $67.5 million of dividend payments, $2.8 million to pay for early conversion of a portion of the EarthLink Notes and $0.9 million used to repurchase 0.1 million shares of our common stock. Under the terms of the indenture governing the EarthLink Notes, our payment of cash dividends requires an adjustment to the conversion rate for the EarthLink Notes. In addition, as a result of the adjustment, the EarthLink Notes may be surrendered for conversion for a period of time between the declaration date and the record date, as defined in the indenture, for the consideration provided for in the indenture. These uses of cash were partially offset by $2.8 million of proceeds from the exercise of stock options.

Future Uses of Cash and Funding Sources

Uses of cash

        Acquisitions.    We expect to use $370.0 million of cash upon closing of our acquisitions of One Communications and STS Telecom in the first half of 2011. However, this amount could fluctuate based on One Communications' shareholders right to elect to receive equity or cash for their portion of the transaction. We also expect to use cash for one-time costs related to these transactions, including transaction and closing costs, as well as integration costs. These transactions may result in significant costs and expenses, including those related to severance pay, payments to executive officers and key employees under retention plans, employee benefit costs, and legal, accounting and financial advisory fees. There are a number of systems that must be integrated, including management information, sales, billing and benefits. We expect to incur expenses in connection with integrating the businesses, policies, procedures, operations, technologies and systems of our acquisitions with ours. In addition, we expect to incur integration costs related to branding initiatives associated with changing the trade name to EarthLink Business.

        Debt and interest.    We expect to use cash related to our outstanding indebtedness. On November 15, 2011, holders of the EarthLink Notes have the right under the governing indenture to require us to repurchase the EarthLink Notes and the EarthLink Notes are convertible on October 15, 2011 and upon certain events. We will use cash to repurchase EarthLink Notes or in connection with holders' conversion of EarthLink Notes, if the holders exercise their right on those dates or potential future dates. In connection with our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we assumed their outstanding $325 million aggregate principal amount of 10.5% senior secured notes due on April 1, 2016. As a result, we also expect to use cash for increased interest payments. We also may use cash to redeem the ITC^DeltaCom Notes in accordance with the terms of the related indenture or to repurchase the ITC^DeltaCom Notes.

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        Capital expenditures.    We believe that to remain competitive with much larger telecommunications and cable companies, we will require significant additional capital expenditures to enhance and operate our fiber network. We expect to incur capital expenditures to maintain and upgrade our network and technology infrastructure. The actual amount of capital expenditures may fluctuate due to a number of factors which are difficult to predict and could change significantly over time. Additionally, technological advances may require us to make capital expenditures to develop or acquire new equipment or technology in order to replace aging or technologically obsolete equipment.

        Dividends.    During the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2010, cash dividends declared were $0.28 and $0.62 per common share, respectively. In January 2011, we reduced the amount of our quarterly dividend from $0.16 per share to $0.05 per share. We currently intend to continue to pay regular quarterly dividends on our common stock. However, any decision to declare future dividends will be made at the discretion of the Board of Directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, investment opportunities and other factors the Board of Directors may deem relevant.

        Cost reduction initiatives.    We plan to continue to implement cost reduction initiatives and to manage our business more efficiently. This may include outsourcing certain functions, renegotiating contacts with network service providers and consolidating or closing certain facilities, including our data centers. We may incur upfront costs in connection with implementing these initiatives. We will also continue to use cash to pay real estate obligations associated with facilities exited in our past restructuring plans and for workforce reduction initiatives.

        Other.    We may use cash to invest in or acquire other companies or to repurchase common stock. We expect to continue to evaluate and consider potential strategic transactions that we believe may complement our business. Although we continue to consider and evaluate potential strategic transactions, there can be no assurance that we will be able to consummate any such transaction.

        Our cash requirements depend on numerous factors, including costs required to integrate our acquisitions, costs required to repurchase debt, the size and types of future acquisitions in which we may engage, the costs required to maintain our network infrastructure, the pricing of our access services, and the level of resources used for our sales and marketing activities, among others. In addition, our use of cash in connection with acquisitions may limit other potential uses of our cash, including stock repurchases, debt repayments, dividend payments and payments for outstanding indebtedness.

Sources of cash

        Our principal sources of liquidity are our cash, cash equivalents and investments in marketable securities, as well as the cash flow we generate from our operations. During the years ended December 31, 2008, 2009 and 2010, we generated $230.6 million, $208.6 million and $154.4 million in cash from operations, respectively. As of December 31, 2010, we had $243.0 million in cash and cash equivalents. In addition, we held short- and long-term marketable securities valued at $307.8 million and $12.3 million, respectively. Short-term marketable securities consist of investments that have effective maturity dates of up to one year from the balance sheet date. Long-term marketable securities consist of investments that have effective maturity dates greater than one year from the balance sheet date. During the year ended December 31, 2010, we sold $48.2 million of our auction rate securities to the selling broker at par, plus accrued interest. As such, we have no remaining liquidity risk regarding our auction rate securities. However, our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities are subject to general credit, liquidity, market, and interest rate risks, which may be exacerbated by unfavorable economic conditions. If financial markets experience prolonged periods of decline, the value or liquidity of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities could decline and result in an other-than-temporary decline in fair value, which could adversely affect our financial condition.

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        Our available cash and marketable securities, together with our results of operations, are expected to be sufficient to meet our operating expenses, capital requirements and investment and other obligations for the next 12 months. However, to increase available liquidity or to fund acquisitions or other strategic activities, we are likely to seek additional financing. We have no commitments for any additional financing and have no lines of credit or similar sources of financing. We cannot be sure that we can obtain additional financing on favorable terms, if at all, through the issuance of equity securities or the incurrence of additional debt. Additional equity financing may dilute our stockholders, and debt financing, if available, may restrict our ability to repurchase common stock or debt, declare and pay dividends and raise future capital. If we are unable to obtain additional needed financing, it may prohibit us from making acquisitions, capital expenditures and/or investments, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

        As of December 31, 2010, we did not have any off-balance sheet arrangements that have or are reasonably likely to have a current or future effect on our financial condition, changes in financial condition, revenues or expenses, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources that are material to investors.

Contractual Obligations and Commitments

        As of December 31, 2010, we had the following contractual commitments:

 
   
  Payment Due by Period  
 
  Total   1 Year   1-3 Years   3-5 Years   After 5 Years  
 
   
  (in millions)
 

Operating leases (1)

  $ 98.0   $ 25.1   $ 43.9   $ 29.0   $  

Purchase commitments (2)

    28.9     20.6     8.3          

EarthLink Notes (3)

    255.8     255.8              

ITC^Deltacom Notes (4)

    325.0                 325.0  
                       

  $ 707.7   $ 301.5   $ 52.2   $ 29.0   $ 325.0  
                       

    (1)
    These amounts represent base rent payments under noncancellable operating leases for facilities and equipment that expire in various years through 2016, as well as an allocation for operating expenses. Not included in these amounts is expected sublease income of $1.8 million, $1.9 million, $2.0 million and $1.1 million during the years ended December 31, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2104, respectively.

    (2)
    We have entered into agreements with vendors to purchase certain telecommunications services and equipment under non-cancelable agreements. We also have commitments for certain advertising spending under non-cancelable agreements.

    (3)
    We have $255.8 million aggregate principal amount of EarthLink Notes outstanding. The EarthLink Notes are convertible on October 15, 2011 and upon certain events. We have the option to redeem the EarthLink Notes, in whole or in part, for cash, on or after November 15, 2011, provided that we have made at least ten semi-annual interest payments. In addition, the holders may require us to purchase all or a portion of their EarthLink Notes on each of November 15, 2011, November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2021.

    (4)
    In connection with our acquisition of ITC^DeltaCom, we assumed ITC^DeltaCom's outstanding $325.0 million aggregate principal amount of 10.5% senior secured notes due April 1, 2016.

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Share Repurchase Program

        The Board of Directors has authorized a total of $750.0 million to repurchase our common stock under our share repurchase program. As of December 31, 2010, we had utilized approximately $604.1 million pursuant to the authorizations and had $145.9 million available under the current authorization. We may repurchase our common stock from time to time in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission's regulations and other legal requirements, and subject to market conditions and other factors. The share repurchase program does not require us to acquire any specific number of shares and may be terminated by the Board of Directors at any time.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

        Set forth below is a discussion of the accounting policies and related estimates that we believe are the most critical to understanding our consolidated financial statements, financial condition and results of operations and which require complex management judgments, uncertainties and/or estimates. The preparation of financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities, and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during a reporting period; however, actual results could differ from those estimates. Management has discussed the development, selection and disclosure of the critical accounting policies and estimates with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. Information regarding our other accounting policies is included in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements.

Revenue recognition

        We maintain relationships with certain broadband partners in which we provide services to customers using the "last mile" element of the telecommunications providers' networks. The term "last mile" generally refers to the element of telecommunications networks that is directly connected to homes and businesses. Generally, when we are the primary obligor in the transaction with the subscriber, have latitude in establishing prices, are the party determining the service specifications or have several but not all of these indicators, we record the revenue at the amount billed the subscriber. If we are not the primary obligor and/or the broadband partner has latitude in establishing prices, we record revenue associated with the related subscribers on a net basis, netting the cost of revenue associated with the service against the gross amount billed the customer and recording the net amount as revenue. The determination of whether we meet many of the attributes for gross and net revenue recognition is judgmental in nature and is based on an evaluation of the terms of each arrangement. A change in the determination of gross versus net revenue recognition would have an impact on the gross amounts of revenues and cost of revenues we recognize and the gross profit margin percentages in the period in which such determination is made and in subsequent periods; however, such a change in determination of revenue recognition would not affect net income.

Income taxes

        Significant judgment is required in evaluating our uncertain tax positions and determining our provision for income taxes. We establish reserves for tax-related uncertainties if it is more likely than not that additional taxes will be due. We adjust these reserves in light of changing facts and circumstances, such as the closing of a tax audit, new tax legislation, or the change of an estimate. To the extent that the final tax outcome of these matters is different than the amounts recorded, such differences will affect the provision for income taxes in the period in which such determination is made. The provision for income taxes includes the effect of reserve provisions and changes to reserves that are considered appropriate, as well as the related net interest and penalties.

        We recognize deferred tax assets and liabilities using estimated future tax rates for the effect of temporary differences between the book and tax bases of recorded assets and liabilities, including net

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operating loss carryforwards. Management assesses the realizability of deferred tax assets and records a valuation allowance if it is more likely than not that all or a portion of the deferred tax assets will not be realized. We consider the probability of future taxable income and our historical profitability, among other factors, in assessing the amount of the valuation allowance. During the year ended December 31, 2009, we released $199.0 million of our valuation allowance related to our deferred tax assets. Of the valuation allowance release, $198.8 million was recorded as an income tax benefit in the Consolidated Statement of Operations and $0.2 million related to temporary differences and was recorded to accumulated other comprehensive income on the Consolidated Balance Sheet. These deferred tax assets relate primarily to net operating loss carryforwards which we determined we will more likely than not be able to utilize due to the generation of sufficient taxable income in the future. During the year ended December 31, 2010, we released $0.5 million of our valuation allowance related to our deferred tax assets. This valuation allowance release was a combination of an increase in valuation allowance of $0.4 million relating to stock compensation deferred tax assets, and a decrease in valuation allowance of $0.9 million relating to net operating loss carry forwards, which we determined we will "more likely than not" be able to utilize due to the generation of sufficient taxable income in the future in certain jurisdictions. Of this amount, $0.2 million is related to the use of certain tax benefits of stock compensation which are an adjustment to additional paid-in capital. Our determination was made based on our past performance and our belief that we will generate sufficient taxable income in the future to utilize our tax assets. Significant judgment was involved in this determination, including projections of future taxable income. Changes in these estimates and assumptions could materially affect the amount or timing of the valuation allowance release.

        We continue to maintain a valuation allowance of $39.2 million against certain deferred tax assets. Of this amount, $31.6 million relates to net operating losses generated by the tax benefits of stock-based compensation. The valuation allowance will be removed upon utilization of these net operating losses by us as an adjustment to additional paid-in-capital. A valuation allowance of $7.2 million relates to net operating losses in certain jurisdictions where we believe it is not more likely than not to be realized in future periods. In addition, a valuation allowance of $0.4 million was established in 2010 relating to stock compensation deferred tax assets. Adjustments could be required in the future if we estimate that the amount of deferred tax assets that we are more likely than not able to realize is more or less than the net amount we have recorded. Any decrease in the valuation allowance could have the effect of increasing stockholders' equity and/or decreasing the income tax provision in the statement of operations.

Recoverability of noncurrent assets

Goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets

        We test goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment at least annually. We perform an impairment test of our goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets annually during the fourth quarter of our fiscal year or when events and circumstances indicate the indefinite-lived intangible assets might be impaired. During the fourth quarter of 2008, our annual impairment test concluded that goodwill and certain intangible assets recorded as a result of our April 2006 acquisition of New Edge were impaired and we recorded non-cash impairment charges related to the New Edge reporting unit of $64.0 million for goodwill and $3.1 million for the indefinite-lived trade name. During the fourth quarter of 2009, our annual impairment test concluded that goodwill and certain intangible assets recorded as a result of the New Edge acquisition were further impaired and we recorded non-cash impairment charges related to the New Edge reporting unit of $23.9 million for goodwill and $0.2 million for the indefinite-lived trade name. As a result, there is no remaining carrying value related to New Edge goodwill.

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        Application of the goodwill impairment test requires judgment, including the identification of reporting units, assigning assets and liabilities to reporting units, assigning goodwill to reporting units, and determining the fair value of each reporting unit. Significant judgments required to estimate the fair value of reporting units include estimating future cash flows, determining appropriate discount rates, growth rates and other assumptions. Changes in these estimates and assumptions could materially affect the determination of fair value for each reporting unit which could trigger impairment or impact the amount of the impairment.

        Although we operate two reportable segments, we have identified three reporting units for evaluating goodwill, which are Consumer Services (which consists of our consumer product offerings including narrowband and broadband access, VoIP and value-added services), EarthLink Business and Web Hosting. The Consumer Services reportable segment is one reporting unit, while the Business Services reportable segment consists of two reporting units, EarthLink Business and Web Hosting. Each of these reporting units constitutes a business for which discrete financial information is available and segment management regularly reviews the operating results. Goodwill resulting from our ITC^DeltaCom acquisition was allocated to the EarthLink Business reporting unit. There is no remaining goodwill from our New Edge acquisition. Goodwill resulting from all other acquisitions related to consumer products and was allocated to the Consumer Services reporting unit. No goodwill is allocated to our Web Hosting reporting unit.

        Impairment testing of goodwill is required at the reporting unit level and involves a two-step process. The first step of the impairment test involves comparing the estimated fair value of our reporting units with the reporting unit's carrying amount, including goodwill. We estimate the fair values of our reporting units primarily using the income approach valuation methodology that includes the discounted cash flow method, taking into consideration the market approach and certain market multiples as a validation of the values derived using the discounted cash flow methodology. The discounted cash flows for each reporting unit are based on discrete financial forecasts developed by management for planning purposes. Cash flows beyond the discrete forecasts are estimated using a terminal value calculation, which incorporates historical and forecasted financial trends for each identified reporting unit.

        If we determine that the carrying value of a reporting unit exceeds its estimated fair value, we perform a second step. The implied fair value of goodwill is determined in the same manner as utilized to recognize goodwill in a business combination. The implied fair value of goodwill is measured as the excess of the fair value of the reporting unit over the amounts assigned to its assets and liabilities. Any impairment loss is measured by the amount the carrying value of goodwill exceeded the implied fair value of the goodwill.

        The impairment test for our indefinite-lived intangible assets, which consist of trade names, involves a comparison of the estimated fair value of the intangible asset with its carrying value. If the carrying value of the intangible asset exceeds its fair value, an impairment loss is recognized in an amount equal to that excess. We determine the fair value of our trade names using the royalty savings method, in which the fair value of the asset is calculated based on the present value of the royalty stream that we are saving by owning the asset. Significant judgments required to estimate the fair value include assumptions about royalty rates and the selection of appropriate discount rates. Changes in these estimates and assumptions could materially affect the determination of fair value for our indefinite-lived intangible assets which could impact the amount of an impairment.

Long-lived assets

        For noncurrent assets such as property and equipment, definite-lived intangible assets and investments in other companies, we perform tests of impairment when certain events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. Our tests involve critical estimates reflecting management's best assumptions and estimates related to, among other factors, subscriber additions, churn, prices, marketing spending, operating costs and capital spending. Significant judgment is involved in estimating these factors, and they include inherent uncertainties. Management

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periodically evaluates and updates the estimates based on the conditions that influence these factors. The variability of these factors depends on a number of conditions, including uncertainty about future events, and thus our accounting estimates may change from period to period. If other assumptions and estimates had been used in the current period, the balances for noncurrent assets could have been materially impacted. Furthermore, if management uses different assumptions or if different conditions occur in future periods, future operating results could be materially impacted.

Fair value measurements

        We utilized unobservable (Level 3) inputs in determining the fair value of certain assets, which included auction rate securities with a carrying value and fair value of $42.9 million as of December 31, 2009 and our put right with a carrying value and fair value of $5.2 million as of December 31, 2009.

        Our auction rate securities were variable-rate debt instruments whose underlying agreements had contractual maturities of up to 40 years, but had interest rate reset periods at pre-determined intervals, usually every 28 days. These securities were predominantly secured by student loans guaranteed by state related higher education agencies and reinsured by the U.S. Department of Education. Beginning in February 2008, auctions for these securities failed to attract sufficient buyers, resulting in us continuing to hold such securities. Prior to February 2008, due to the auction process, quoted market prices were readily available, which would have qualified as Level 1. However, due to events in credit markets beginning in February 2008, these securities did not have readily determinable market values and were not liquid. The fair values of our auction rate securities as of December 31, 2009 were estimated utilizing a discounted cash flow analysis. This analysis considered, among other items, the collateralization underlying the security investments, the creditworthiness of the counterparty, and the timing and value of expected future cash flows. These securities were also compared, when possible, to other observable market data with similar characteristics to the securities held by us. Due to the failed auctions, we classified these instruments within Level 3. We elected the fair value option for the put right to offset the fair value changes of the auction rate securities. The fair value of the put right was estimated using a discounted cash flow analysis and was classified within Level 3.

        Determining the fair values of our auction rate securities and put right required judgment. If other assumptions and estimates had been used in the current period, the fair value of our auction rate securities and put right could have been materially impacted.

Business Combinations

        We recognize separately from goodwill the assets acquired and the liabilities assumed at their acquisition date fair values. Goodwill as of the acquisition date is measured as the excess of consideration transferred and the net of the acquisition date fair values of the assets acquired and the liabilities assumed. While we use our best estimates and assumptions as a part of the purchase price allocation process to accurately value assets acquired and liabilities assumed at the acquisition date, our estimates are inherently uncertain and subject to refinement. As a result, during the measurement period, which may be up to one year from the acquisition date, we record adjustments to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed, with the corresponding offset to goodwill. Upon the conclusion of the measurement period, any subsequent adjustments are recorded to our consolidated statements of operations.

        Accounting for business combinations requires our management to make significant estimates and assumptions, especially at the acquisition date with respect to intangible assets, obligations assumed and pre-acquisition contingencies. Although we believe the assumptions and estimates we have made in the past have been reasonable and appropriate, they are based in part on historical experience and information obtained from the management of the acquired companies and are inherently uncertain.

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        Examples of critical estimates in valuing certain of the intangible assets we have acquired include but are not limited to:

    future expected cash flows from customer contracts and acquired developed technologies and patents;

    the acquired company's brand and competitive position, as well as assumptions about the period of time the acquired brand will continue to be used in the combined company's product portfolio; and

    discount rates.

        Unanticipated events and circumstances may occur that may affect the accuracy or validity of such assumptions, estimates or actual results.

        For a given acquisition, we may identify certain pre-acquisition contingencies as of the acquisition date and may extend our review and evaluation of these pre-acquisition contingencies throughout the measurement period (up to one year from the acquisition date) in order to obtain sufficient information to assess whether we include these contingencies as a part of the purchase price allocation and, if so, to determine their estimated amounts.

        If we determine that a pre-acquisition contingency (non-income tax related) is probable in nature and estimable as of the acquisition date, we record our best estimate for such a contingency as a part of the preliminary purchase price allocation. We often continue to gather information for and evaluate our pre-acquisition contingencies throughout the measurement period and if we make changes to the amounts recorded or if we identify additional pre-acquisition contingencies during the measurement period, such amounts will be included in the purchase price allocation during the measurement period and, subsequently, in our results of operations.

        In addition, uncertain tax positions and tax related valuation allowances assumed in connection with a business combination are initially estimated as of the acquisition date and we reevaluate these items quarterly with any adjustments to our preliminary estimates being recorded to goodwill provided that we are within the measurement period and we continue to collect information in order to determine their estimated values. Subsequent to the measurement period or our final determination of the uncertain tax positions estimated value or tax related valuation allowances, changes to these uncertain tax positions' and tax related valuation allowances will affect our provision for income taxes in our consolidated statement of operations and could have a material impact on our results of operations and financial position.

Cost of Revenues

        Cost of revenues includes direct expenses associated with providing services to our customers and the cost of equipment sold. These costs include the cost of leasing facilities from incumbent local exchange carriers and other telecommunications providers that provide us with access connections to our customers, to some components of our network facilities, and between our various facilities. In addition, we use other carriers to provide services where we do not have facilities. We use a number of different carriers to terminate our long distance calls outside the southern United States. These costs are expensed as incurred. Some of these expenses are billed in advance and some expenses are billed in arrears. Accordingly, we are required to accrue for expected expenses irrespective of whether these expenses have been billed. We use internal management information to support these required accruals. Experience indicates that the invoices that are received from other telecommunications providers are often subject to significant billing disputes. We typically accrue for all invoiced amounts unless there are contractual, tariff or operational data that clearly indicate support for the billing dispute. Experience also has shown that these disputes can require a significant amount of time to resolve given the complexities and regulatory issues surrounding the vendor relationships. We maintain reserves for any anticipated exposure associated with these billing disputes. We believe our reserves are adequate. The reserves are reviewed on a monthly basis, but are subject to changes in estimates and management judgment as new information becomes available. In view

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of the length of time it historically has required to resolve these disputes, disputes may be resolved or require adjustment in future periods and relate to costs invoiced, accrued or paid in prior periods.

Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements

        In September 2009, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued new guidance on revenue recognition. The new guidance addresses the accounting for multiple-deliverable arrangements to enable vendors to account for products or services (deliverables) separately rather than as a combined unit and to modify the manner in which the transaction consideration is allocated across the separately identifiable deliverables and how revenue is recognized. The new guidance also significantly expands the disclosure requirements for multiple-element arrangements. The new guidance is effective prospectively for revenue arrangements entered into or materially modified in fiscal years beginning on or after June 15, 2010. We do not expect the adoption of the new guidance to have a material impact on our financial statements.

        In December 2010, the FASB issued new guidance on when to perform Step 2 of the goodwill impairment test for reporting units with zero or negative carrying amounts. The new guidance modifies Step 1 of the goodwill impairment test for reporting units with zero or negative carrying amounts. For those reporting units, an entity is required to perform Step 2 of the goodwill impairment test if it is more likely than not that a goodwill impairment exists. In determining whether it is more likely than not that a goodwill impairment exists, an entity should consider whether there are any adverse qualitative factors indicating that an impairment may exist. The new guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2010. Early adoption is not permitted. We do not expect the adoption of the new guidance to have a material impact on our financial statements.

        Also in December 2010, the FASB issued new guidance on disclosure of supplementary pro forma financial information for business combinations. The new guidance specifies that if a public entity presents comparative financial statements, the entity should disclose revenue and earnings of the combined entity as though the business combination(s) that occurred during the current year had occurred as of the beginning of the comparable prior annual reporting period only. The new guidance also expands the supplemental pro forma disclosures for business combinations to include a description of the nature and amount of material, nonrecurring pro forma adjustments directly attributable to the business combination included in the reported pro forma revenue and earnings. The new guidance is effective prospectively for business combinations for which the acquisition date is on or after the beginning of the first annual reporting period beginning on or after December 15, 2010. We do not expect the adoption of the new guidance to have a material impact on its financial statements.

Item 7a.    Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk.

Interest Rate Risk

        We are exposed to interest rate risk with respect to its investments in marketable securities. A change in prevailing interest rates may cause the fair value of our investments to fluctuate. For example, if we hold a security that was issued with a fixed interest rate at the then-prevailing rate and the prevailing interest rate later rises, the fair value of its investment may decline. To minimize this risk, we have historically held many investments until maturity, and as a result, we receive interest and principal amounts pursuant to the underlying agreements. To further mitigate risk, we have historically maintained our portfolio of investments in a variety of securities, including government agency notes, asset-backed debt securities (including auction rate debt securities) and commercial paper, all of which bear a minimum short-term rating of A1/P1 or a minimum long-term rating of A/A2. As of December 31, 2009 and 2010, net unrealized losses in these investments were not material. In general, money market funds are not subject to market risk because the interest paid on such funds fluctuates with the prevailing interest rate.

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        As of December 31, 2009, our investments in marketable securities included $42.9 million of auction rate securities with a weighted average interest rate of 1.42%. During the year ended December 31, 2010, we sold our auction rate securities to the selling broker at par, plus accrued interest. As a result, we no longer held investments in auction rate securities as of December 31, 2010. These securities were variable-rate debt instruments whose underlying agreements had contractual maturities of up to 40 years. These securities were issued by various municipalities and state regulated higher education agencies and were predominantly secured by pools of student loans guaranteed by the agencies and reinsured by the U.S. Department of Education. Liquidity for these auction rate securities is typically provided by an auction process that resets the applicable interest rate at pre-determined intervals, usually every 28 days. In October 2008, we entered into an agreement with the broker that sold us our auction rate securities that gave us the right to sell our existing auction rate securities back to the broker at par plus accrued interest, beginning on June 30, 2010 until July 2, 2012. We elected a one-time transfer of our auction rate securities from the available-for-sale category to the trading category. We also elected the fair value option for the put right to offset the fair value changes of the auction rate securities.

        We are also exposed to interest rate risk with respect to our convertible senior notes due November 15, 2026 (the "EarthLink Notes") and with ITC^DeltaCom's senior secured notes due April 1, 2016 (the "ITC^DeltaCom Notes"). The fair value of these notes may be adversely impacted due to a rise in interest rates. In general, securities with longer maturities are subject to greater interest rate risk than those with shorter maturities. The EarthLink Notes bear interest at a fixed rate of 3.25% per year until November 15, 2011, and 3.50% interest per year thereafter, and the ITC^DeltaCom Notes bear interest at a fixed rate of 10.5% per year until April 1, 2016. As of December 31, 2009 and 2010, the principal amount of the EarthLink Notes was $258.8 million and $255.8 million, respectively, and the fair value was approximately $279.8 million and $300.3 million, respectively, which was based on the quoted market price. As of December 31, 2010, the principal amount of the ITC^DeltaCom notes was $325.0 million and the fair value of the ITC^DeltaCom Notes was approximately $352.6 million, based on quoted market prices.

Equity Risk

        We are exposed to equity price risk as it relates to changes in the market value of our equity investments. In the past, we have invested in equity instruments of public and private companies for operational and strategic purposes. These securities are subject to significant fluctuations in fair market value due to volatility of the stock market and the industries in which the companies operate. We typically do not attempt to reduce or eliminate our market exposure in these equity instruments.

        During the year ended December 31, 2009, we sold our remaining equity investments in other companies. As a result, we no longer held investments in other companies as of December 31, 2010. The following table presents the carrying value and fair value of our financial instruments subject to equity risk as of December 31, 2009:

 
  As of December 31, 2009  
 
  Carrying
Amount
  Estimated
Fair
Value
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Investments in other companies for which it is:

             
 

Practicable to estimate fair value

  $ 1,529   $ 1,529  
 

Not practicable to estimate fair value

        N/A  

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Item 8.    Financial Statements And Supplementary Data.


EARTHLINK, INC.

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

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REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

The Board of Directors and
Stockholders of EarthLink, Inc.

        We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of EarthLink, Inc. as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, and the related consolidated statements of operations, stockholders' equity and comprehensive income, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2010. These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on our audits.

        We conducted our audits in accordance with standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

        In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of EarthLink, Inc. at December 31, 2009 and 2010, and the consolidated results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2010, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

        We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), EarthLink, Inc.'s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission and our report dated March 1, 2011 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

                      /s/ Ernst & Young LLP

Atlanta, Georgia
March 1, 2011

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REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM ON INTERNAL CONTROL OVER FINANCIAL REPORTING

The Board of Directors and
Stockholders of EarthLink, Inc.

        We have audited EarthLink, Inc.'s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (the COSO criteria). EarthLink, Inc.'s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting included in the accompanying Management's Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company's internal control over financial reporting based on our audit.

        We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

        A company's internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company's internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company's assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

        Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

        As indicated in the accompanying Management's Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting, management's assessment of and conclusion on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting did not include the internal controls of ITC^DeltaCom, which is included in the 2010 consolidated financial statements of EarthLink, Inc. and constituted $696.5 million and $255.3 million of total and net assets, respectively, as of December 31, 2010 and $26.6 million and ($6.2) million of revenues and net income, respectively, for the year then ended. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting of EarthLink, Inc. also did not include an evaluation of the internal control over financial reporting of ITC^DeltaCom.

        In our opinion, EarthLink, Inc. maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010, based on the COSO criteria.

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        We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, and the related consolidated statements of operations, stockholders' equity and comprehensive income, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2010 of EarthLink, Inc. and our report dated March 1, 2011 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

                      /s/ Ernst & Young LLP

Atlanta, Georgia
March 1, 2011

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EARTHLINK, INC.

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(in thousands, except per share data)

 
  December 31,  
 
  2009   2010  

ASSETS

 

Current assets:

             
 

Cash and cash equivalents

  $ 610,995   $ 242,952  
 

Marketable securities

    84,966     307,814  
 

Restricted cash

        2,270  
 

Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $1,736 and $1,182 as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, respectively

    20,560     60,216  
 

Prepaid expenses

    4,374     12,723  
 

Deferred income taxes, net

    46,063     45,661  
 

Other current assets

    16,423     14,240  
           
   

Total current assets

    783,381     685,876  

Long-term marketable securities

        12,304  

Property and equipment, net

    34,267     241,111  

Deferred income taxes, net

    153,132     170,213  

Purchased intangible assets, net

    11,550     135,364  

Goodwill

    88,920     277,810  

Other long-term assets

    3,368     1,240  
           
   

Total assets

  $ 1,074,618   $ 1,523,918  
           

LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY

 

Current liabilities:

             
 

Accounts payable

  $ 6,270   $ 17,272  
 

Accrued payroll and related expenses

    25,093     18,402  
 

Other accrued liabilities

    34,659     75,629  
 

Deferred revenue

    25,728     40,921  
 

Convertible senior notes, net of discount of $26,502 and $12,722 as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, respectively

    232,248     243,069  
           
   

Total current liabilities

    323,998     395,293  

Long-term debt, including premium of $26,251 as of December 31, 2010

        351,251  

Other long-term liabilities

    16,596     19,506  
           
   

Total liabilities

    340,594     766,050  

Commitments and contingencies (See Note 15)

             

Stockholders' equity:

             
 

Convertible preferred stock, $0.01 par value, 100,000 shares authorized, 0 shares issued and outstanding as of December 31, 2009 and 2010

         
 

Common stock, $0.01 par value, 300,000 shares authorized, 190,472 and 191,825 shares issued as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, respectively, and 107,132 and 108,382 shares outstanding as of December 31, 2009 and 2010, respectively

    1,905     1,918  
 

Additional paid-in capital

    2,118,100     2,061,555  
 

Accumulated deficit

    (729,715 )   (648,235 )
 

Treasury stock, at cost, 83,340 and 83,443 shares, respectively, as of December 31, 2009 and 2010

    (656,760 )   (657,611 )
 

Accumulated other comprehensive income

    494     241  
           
   

Total stockholders' equity

    734,024     757,868  
           
   

Total liabilities and stockholders' equity

  $ 1,074,618   $ 1,523,918  
           

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

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EARTHLINK, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands, except per share data)
 

Revenues

  $ 955,577   $ 723,729   $ 622,212  

Operating costs and expenses:

                   
 

Cost of revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

    349,467     265,668     234,633  
 

Selling, general and administrative (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

    317,356     222,181     178,417  
 

Depreciation and amortization

    36,333     23,962     23,390  
 

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

    78,672     24,145     1,711  
 

Restructuring and acquisition-related costs

    9,142     5,615     22,368  
               
   

Total operating costs and expenses

   
790,970
   
541,571
   
460,519
 
               
   

Income from operations

    164,607     182,158     161,693  

Gain (loss) on investments, net

    2,708     (1,321 )   572  

Interest expense and other, net

    (12,409 )   (19,804 )   (23,981 )
               
   

Income from continuing operations before income taxes

    154,906     161,033     138,284  

Income tax benefit (provision)

    32,184     126,085     (56,804 )
               
   

Income from continuing operations

    187,090     287,118     81,480  

Loss from discontinued operations, net of tax

    (8,506 )        
               
   

Net income

  $ 178,584   $ 287,118   $ 81,480  
               

Basic net income per share

                   
 

Continuing operations

  $ 1.71   $ 2.69   $ 0.75  
 

Discontinued operations

    (0.08 )        
               
 

Basic net income per share

  $ 1.63   $ 2.69   $ 0.75  
               
 

Basic weighted average common shares outstanding

    109,531     106,909     108,057  
               

Diluted net income per share

                   
 

Continuing operations

  $ 1.68   $ 2.66   $ 0.74  
 

Discontinued operations

    (0.08 )        
               
 

Diluted net income per share

  $ 1.61   $ 2.66   $ 0.74  
               
 

Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding

    111,051     108,084     109,468  
               

Dividends declared per common share

  $   $ 0.28   $ 0.62  
               

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

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EARTHLINK, INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY AND COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

 
  Common Stock    
   
  Treasury Stock   Accumulated
Other
Comprehensive
Income (Loss)
   
   
 
 
  Additional
Paid-in
Capital
  Accumulated
Deficit
  Total
Stockholders'
Equity
  Total
Comprehensive
Income
 
 
  Shares   Amount   Shares   Amount  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Balance as of December 31, 2007

    186,490   $ 1,865   $ 2,107,584   $ (1,191,390 )   (75,943 ) $ (602,564 ) $ (977 ) $ 314,518        

Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle

                (4,027 )               (4,027 )      

Issuance of common stock pursuant to exercise of stock options and vesting of restricted stock units

    1,774     18     5,728                     5,746        

Tax benefit from equity awards

            1,017                     1,017        

Termination of convertible note hedge and warrant agreements

            1,425                     1,425        

Stock-based compensation expense

            20,133                     20,133        

Repurchase of common stock

                    (3,805 )   (31,856 )       (31,856 )      

Reclassification adjustment for realized gains and losses on certain investments

                            893     893        

Unrealized holding gains on certain investments, net of tax

                            42     42   $ 42  

Net income

                178,584                 178,584     178,584  
                                       

Total comprehensive income

                                                  $ 178,626  
                                                       

Balance as of December 31, 2008

    188,264     1,883     2,135,887     (1,016,833 )   (79,748 )   (634,420 )   (42 )   486,475        
                                         

Issuance of common stock pursuant to exercise of stock options and vesting of restricted stock units

    2,208     22     5,054                     5,076        

Tax withholdings related to net share settlements of restricted stock units and stock options

            (5,450 )                   (5,450 )      

Dividends paid on shares outstanding and restricted stock units

            (30,006 )                   (30,006 )      

Dividends payable on restricted stock units

            (616 )                   (616 )      

Stock-based compensation expense

            13,231                     13,231        

Repurchase of common stock

                    (3,592 )   (22,340 )       (22,340 )      

Unrealized holding gains on certain investments, net of tax

                            536     536   $ 536  

Net income

                287,118                 287,118     287,118  
                                       

Total comprehensive income

                                                  $ 287,654  
                                                       

Balance as of December 31, 2009

    190,472     1,905     2,118,100     (729,715 )   (83,340 )   (656,760 )   494     734,024        
                                         

Issuance of common stock pursuant to exercise of stock options and vesting of restricted stock units

    1,353     13     2,738                     2,751        

Tax withholdings related to net share settlements of restricted stock units and stock options

            (3,535 )                   (3,535 )      

Dividends paid on shares outstanding and restricted stock units

            (67,474 )                   (67,474 )      

Dividends payable on restricted stock units

            (514 )                   (514 )      

Stock-based compensation expense

            9,919                     9,919        

Restricted stock units assumed and converted

            2,275                     2,275        

Debt redemption

            (176 )                   (176 )      

Change in deferred tax asset

            222                     222        

Repurchase of common stock

                    (103 )   (851 )       (851 )      

Unrealized holding losses on certain investments, net of tax

                            (253 )   (253 ) $ (253 )

Net income

                81,480                 81,480     81,480  
                                       

Total comprehensive income

                                                  $ 81,227  
                                                       

Balance as of December 31, 2010

    191,825   $ 1,918   $ 2,061,555   $ (648,235 )   (83,443 ) $ (657,611 ) $ 241   $ 757,868        
                                         

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

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EARTHLINK, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

 
  Year Ended December 31,  
 
  2008   2009   2010  
 
  (in thousands)
 

Cash flows from operating activities:

                   
 

Net income

  $ 178,584   $ 287,118   $ 81,480  
 

Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities:

                   
   

Depreciation and amortization

    36,333     23,962     23,390  
   

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

    78,672     24,145     1,711  
   

Non-cash income taxes

    (42,714 )   (135,359 )   49,536  
   

Stock-based compensation

    20,133     13,231     9,959  
   

Amortization of debt discount, premium and issuance costs

    12,513     13,644     14,294  
   

Loss on disposals and impairments of assets

    10,078     345     725  
   

(Gain) loss on investments in other companies, net

    (2,708 )   1,321     (572 )
   

Gain on conversion of debt

            (172 )
   

Decrease in accounts receivable, net

    10,929     10,009     16  
   

(Increase) decrease in prepaid expenses and other assets

    (4,535 )   8,193     1,490  
   

Decrease in accounts payable and accrued and other liabilities

    (54,632 )   (29,839 )   (25,175 )
   

Decrease in deferred revenue

    (12,041 )   (8,148 )   (2,233 )
               
     

Net cash provided by operating activities

    230,612     208,622     154,449  

Cash flows from investing activities:

                   
 

Purchase of business, net of cash acquired

            (192,252 )
 

Purchases of property and equipment

    (5,681 )   (13,119 )   (24,025 )
 

Purchases of investments in marketable securities

    (53,027 )   (56,702 )   (362,127 )
 

Sales and maturities of investments in marketable securities

    109,929     24,259     132,592  
 

Payments to settle precombination stock awards

            (9,062 )
 

Purchases of subscriber bases

    (1,232 )        
 

Proceeds received from investments in other companies

    57,070     8,441     1,618  
 

Other

    65         (937 )
               
     

Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities

    107,124     (37,121 )   (454,193 )

Cash flows from financing activities:

                   
 

Repurchases of common stock

    (31,856 )   (22,340 )   (851 )
 

Payment of dividends

        (30,006 )   (67,474 )
 

Proceeds from exercises of stock options

    8,139     5,312     2,829  
 

Principal payments under capital lease obligations

    (2,707 )   (36 )   (35 )
 

Other financing activities

    1,425         (2,768 )
               
     

Net cash used in financing activities

    (24,999 )   (47,070 )   (68,299 )
               

Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

   
312,737
   
124,431
   
(368,043

)

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year

    173,827     486,564     610,995  
               

Cash and cash equivalents, end of year

  $ 486,564   $ 610,995   $ 242,952  
               

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

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EARTHLINK, INC.

NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

1.     Description of Business

        EarthLink, Inc. ("EarthLink" or the "Company"), together with its consolidated subsidiaries, provides a comprehensive suite of communications services to individual and business customers. The Company operates two reportable segments, Consumer Services and Business Services. The Company's Consumer Services segment provides nationwide Internet access and related value-added services to individual customers. These services include dial-up and high-speed Internet access services, ancillary services sold as add-on features to our Internet access services, search and advertising. The Company's Business Services segment provides integrated communications to businesses, enterprise organizations and communications carriers. These services include data services, including managed IP-based network services and broadband Internet access services; voice services, including local exchange, long-distance and conference calling; mobile data and voice services; and web hosting. The Company provides its Consumer Services primarily through third-party telecommunications service providers, and provides its Business Services primarily through a nationwide fiber optic-based network utilizing Multi-Protocol Label Switching ("MPLS") and other technologies and a 14-state fiber optic network. The Company also sells transmission capacity to other communications providers on a wholesale basis. For further information concerning the Company's business segments, see Note 18, "Segment Information."

2.     Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Basis o