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AOL has the bring your own access option for external use of AOL via another (DSL) provider. Earthlink email can continue to be used without any reconfiguration, as can many other ISPs including MSN.
Once you get your DSL line, you can continue to use and maintain your old email account, if you continue to pay them.
Although rules for different mail systems differ, you may find you can purchase a minimum (MSN or AOL or Earthlink etc) plan that still allows full use of your mailbox, or email could be set to forward to your new address, while you tell people about it.
Also read About DSL for lots more information