Reducing staff through restructuring is one way that many technology and telecommunications companies have been able to stay afloat during the past two years. Now, one of the nation’s largest e-mail services – and one of Colorado Springs’ prominent employers – has joined these ranks.

USA.Net Inc. recently laid off an undisclosed number of employees on December 10 due to restructuring efforts. For the past two months, the local company has been redirecting its efforts away from a customer-based e-mail system and has migrated toward a business platform.

Its net address messaging center no longer provides free e-mail service to individual customers. Previously advertising driven, the service now costs $49.95 per year per customer and includes free virus protection. Users who leave a job for another position need not worry about losing contacts; they can transfer all business e-mail addresses to their personal e-mail address.

“Advertising (revenue) just wasn’t enough to support that model,” said USA.Net spokeswoman Danette Lopez. “If we were making a profit, we would have kept it.”

Although more than 75,000 individual customers subscribe to this service, it comprises only five percent of the company’s revenues. The remaining income is derived from its 5,000 business customers such as United Airlines (37,000 employees), Palm (250,000 employees) and worldwide Saturn retail outlets. The cost per employee is between $5 and $30, said Lopez, with company set-up fees averaging about $500.

Lopez doesn’t foresee USA.Net rehiring those employees. It doesn’t need additional people to run the existing programs since individual’s e-mail information was transferred to business e-mail programs.

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“If you have one less bit of hardware and software running, there’s not much more for people to do anymore,” said Lopez.