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This has always confused me. When we signed up for DSL ~6 years ago through Qwest (now CenturyLink) we were given the option of either MSN or Earthlink. We went with Earthlink. What exactly are they providing us besides email and some software? Are they the ISP, or is CenturyLink? How do Earthlink and CenturyLink interact with one another? Are they dependent of each other, or could you still have internet with just CenturyLink and not have Earthlink?

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closed as off topic by Randolph West, Mike Fitzpatrick, random Sep 8 '12 at 0:00

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question. says they're an ISP. says they're an ISP with additional bundled services like TV. – user3463 Sep 7 '12 at 23:26
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Earthlink is a real ISP in that they generally(but not always) have either ownership or a long term lease over the physical property that enables your Internet connection.For instance, they own approximately 30,000 route miles of fiber.

As for Qwest, they're a subsidiary of CenturyLink which in turn enables Earthlink's access to the old fashion telephone grid to further increase their base of customers.

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