EarthLink, Sprint phase out Net alliance

ATLANTA--EarthLink and Sprint plan to unwind most of the1998 alliance that joined the companies' Internet services, eliminating theexclusivity terms and branding requirements.Wall Street applauded the announcement, which sparked speculation thatSprint (fon) has stepped aside to allow EarthLink (elnk) to be acquired by anothercompany.

ATLANTA--EarthLink and Sprint plan to unwind most of the 1998 alliance that joined the companies' Internet services, eliminating the exclusivity terms and branding requirements.

Wall Street applauded the announcement, which sparked speculation that Sprint (fon) has stepped aside to allow EarthLink (elnk) to be acquired by another company. Analysts mentioned software giant Microsoft as a potential suitor.

The companies said the move will make it easier to pursue deals with potential partners. --WSJ Inter@ctive

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