EarthLink says it will cut some 1,300 jobs for the second time in almost a year as part of a cost-cutting plan to restructure its contact center operations.

Under the plan, EarthLink will close its contact center operations in Harrisburg, PA, and three sites in California: San Jose, Roseville and Pasadena, which was affected last year. The ISP also will reduce contact center operations in Atlanta, where it’s headquartered, by the end of the first quarter of 2004.

In January of 2003, EarthLink announced similar layoffs, also totaling 1,300, or 25 percent of its workforce at the time, that were estimated to save the company $20 million. Most jobs affected were at call and technical support centers in Dallas, Sacramento, Seattle, and Pasadena, all of which were shut down. A call center in Phoenix also had recently closed.

Just like last year, EarthLink says it expects a seamless transition this time as customer support functions will be routed to its remaining Atlanta staff and to outsourced contact center providers.

“EarthLink remains committed to delivering award-winning customer service and maintaining our reputation for excellence and innovative tools and features,” said Garry Betty, chief executive officer of the company. “By improving operational efficiencies, this plan allows us to serve our customers and better compete in a highly dynamic marketplace.”

EarthLink says it expects to record facility exit costs of approximately $36 million in the first quarter associated with this restructuring. These costs include approximately $13 million for certain employee-related costs, $14 million for lease termination costs, and $9 million for non-cash asset write-offs.

These facility exit costs are not included in EarthLink’s previously stated expectations for 2004 net income of $31-63 million. The company says it will reduce expectations for net income accordingly.

The gains from this restructuring plan will allow EarthLink to invest in increased subscriber growth, the company states, while still achieving growth in earnings.

EarthLink says it will issue further detail on its expectations for 2004 when it reports fourth quarter 2003 results in late January.

EarthLink: www.earthlink.net