Earthlink has completed its acquisition of New Edge Networks, giving Earthlink a significant VPN network and new stable of VPN customers.The services New Edge Network offers lift the burden of designing, installing, administering, managing and maintaining VPNs, something that many businesses lack the staff or expertise to handle. As with most managed services, they also give customers a guaranteed monthly bill rather than the sometimes dicey cost of a business running a service on its own.Earthlink, one of the top Internet access providers, already offered VPN services of its own, so the addition of New Edge Networks services, along with its real network assets, strengthens Earthlink's offerings.In particular, New Edge Networks owns a network of ATM access switches that feed its connections to the public Internet. The company offers service-level agreements on both managed and unmanaged services that include private lines, frame relay and ATM services in addition to VPNs. The network supports services that are mostly geared toward small and midsize businesses, which are the most likely to want to outsource their VPNs.As with any merger or acquisition, it will take some time for network and management issues to be resolved. The plan Earthlink has announced calls for New Edge Networks to be a subsidiary of Earthlink, retaining its own name and all of its employees, which should help smooth the transition. Businesses looking for an alternative to larger service providers might send an RFP its way.The $144 million stock deal was\u00a0announced in December.