John Battelle has an interview with Sky Dayton. the “EarthLink founder Sky Dayton helped connect our PCs to the Net. Now he wants to put Korea’s version of wireless broadband on our cell phones.”
All along he’s been guided by two ideas: You don’t have to own infrastructure to sell service, and customers care about applications, not technology. That’s why EarthLink and Boingo thrived while rivals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Internet backbones and Wi-Fi routers, only to go out of business.
For his latest venture, true to form, he’s renting out space on cell-phone networks to give American customers something that South Korea has had for years: high-speed Internet access over a 3G (third-generation) wireless network and sophisticated handsets packed with the latest technologies. While DSL is fast and Wi-Fi is fun, both tether you to a limited area. 3G truly puts the Internet “in the air,” as Dayton likes to say. EarthLink, where he is still a board member, and Korea’s SK Telecom are putting $440 million into the new venture, SK-EarthLink, for which Dayton will serve as CEO while it prepares for a launch of service this year.
A quote from Dayton: “The applications that SK has built are a glimpse into the future — live video on a handset, multiplayer games, and location-based services. To provide those kinds of services, it created a huge infrastructure: billing, video streaming systems, gaming, mapping systems, all that stuff. We’re bringing that over lock, stock, and barrel and plugging it into the U.S. cellular infrastructure.”