Historical UK ISPs
A collection of short notes on historial UK internet service providers.
Be were considered one of the best ISPs for residential customers after their founding in 2005. The company was bought by Telefónica in 2006, but continued to operate alongside O2; the other Telefónica brand in the UK. The ISP fell behind as fibre-to-the-cabinet rollouts increased, and were finally bought by Sky (along with O2) in 2013 with customers transitioning over in the purchase.
Demon Internet started in 1992 as one of the earliest internet providers. The name lasted until 1998 when it changed to Thus plc, then Cable & Wireless before finally becoming a brand of Vodafone where it stands today. Demon made heavy use of the brand including phone numbers with 666 and names including ‘dis’.
Starting in Devon in 1995 as a dialup provider, Eclipse grew to become one of the best-rated ISPs during the mid-2000s. It launched its first broadband offering in 2001, and was purchased by KCOM in 2004. The brand no longer offered residential broadband from 2014 after quietly removing the products, and now offers business broadband under the name KCOM Business.
Freedom2Surf was another ISP bought by Pipex in the mid-2000’s, before eventually being amalgamated into Tiscali. The provider was one of the early companies to offer local loop unbundled (LLU) services.
Freeserve gained recognition in the late 1990s after offering “free” internet service. The brand became well known due to its service being advertised through sales of Packard Bell computers from retailer Dixons. Despite being well known, the service only existed for two years before being bought and branded Wanadoo.
LineOne was founded in 1997 as a joint venture between BT, United News and, Media and News International. News International eventually sold their share to focus on their own operations leaving BT and United as equal owners. It was later purchased by Tiscali in 2001, which subsequently became a part of TalkTalk in 2009.
Nildram began as a highly respected independent ISP before being purchased by Pipex in 2004. At the time of purchase, Nildram had around 35,000 customers with a third of those being business accounts. The Nildram name is now owned by TalkTalk as part of the subsequent Tiscali takeover back in 2009.
O2 started offering broadband services in the early 2000’s and was a brand under the Telefonica group. The home broadband portion of the business was purchased by Sky in 2013 and the customers were moved over to Sky’s network in the following year.
Orange Broadband started became a part of EE in 2015 when the brand was scrapped, though the company was defunct in 2010. It was started in the nineties before being bought by France Telecom in 2000. The LLU service was popular though the company suffered from taking on a large number of customers too quickly.
Pipex was well renowned as being a good service provider during the 90’s and early 2000’s. Formed in 1990, it was key in helping form the UK internet market. By 2007, it was the sixth largest provider and its residential broadband service was sold to Tiscali that same year. The residential brand is now owned by TalkTalk while the business side is part of the Daisy Group.
Telewest offered cable broadband under the name Blueyonder before joining with NTL and later being merged into the Virgin Media brand in 2007 which continues today.
Italian communications company Tiscali gained a negative reputation for poor service quality during the mid-2000’s. The service was sold in June 2009 by Carphone Warehouse before being branded TalkTalk in 2010 which still continues to this day.
Consumer ISP began in 1994 as a dial-up provider before being acquired by EasyNet in 1996 and BSkyB in 2005. The ISP was also one of the first to offer speeds of 8Mb. The brand lasted through to 2011 as a separate entity than Sky Broadband, until the eventual merger of the customer base.
Wanadoo was originally the broadband division of Orange S.A. before being rebranded to Orange. Beyond the UK, it operated in a number of other countries before the brand was ended in 2006. The company purchased Freeserve in 2000.