Earthlink names Huff chief executive

New boss ready to investigate Internet business

Internet service provider Earthlink on Monday named the former leader of a voice and data services company known for his willingness to cut loose unprofitable projects as its new chief executive.

Rolla P. Huff will take the reins of the Atlanta-based company at a time when it faces questions over the future of its municipal wireless Internet projects and its costly cell phone joint venture.

But Huff, 50, said he won’t make any decisions about the company’s future until he spends at least two months reviewing the company’s businesses.

“We haven’t gone through the tough work of going through every business. I want to understand the key busi-ness drivers that can create value to our shareholders,” he said.

Huff succeeds former chief executive Garry Betty, who died in January from complications of cancer at the age of 49.

Earthlink announced in April it will study the performance of its municipal wireless Internet networks in four cities before deciding how to move forward with similar networks elsewhere.

The announcement came the same day the company posted a loss of about $30 million, mostly due to a ramp up in costs surrounding the Helio project, a costly joint venture with SK Telecom of South Korea. Earthlink has already committed to invest $220 million in the project and the company has said it could likely spend another $50 million in the plan.

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