So long beeb.net

Posted on 20 April 2008 in BBC, Internet (4 comments)

It was ten years ago in 1998 that Freeserve launched. And it was then that the Internet in the UK really started to take off.

Freeserve's model of an ISP which didn't charge a monthly subscription fee, but instead made money from just the cost of the phone calls changed the world, and brought about a host of new operations charging customers on the same basis.

Suddenly everyone wanted in on the act as company after company rushed out to launch their own free ISP, from The Sun (with currantbun.com) through to Granada Television who brought the world g-wizz.net. It wasn't just media companies either - Arcadia Group, then owners of clothing stores like Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Top Shop and Debenhams, decided it too needed a finger in the ISP pie, and launched zoom.co.uk - the only fashion-based ISP ever (probably). zoom.co.uk got the world so excited that Associated Newspapers bought half of the company.

All the above - along with most similar operations - are long gone. Zoom.co.uk continued as an online fashion magazine for a while but now is just the login screen for webmail. Currantbun's CD distribution in Asda didn't save it - after just six months it was renamed bun.com and eventually sold on a year after first launch. Today the domain points to the same blue empty screen as whoateallthepies.com (goodness knows).

G-wizz mind you went out in a blaze of glory, giving its customers just days to find a new ISP in 2001 before everything was turned off.

One ISP however remained. Launched in 1999 as freebeeb.net, and later renamed beeb.net, BBC Worldwide's ISP slowly and quietly kept chugging along. By 2001 it had entered profitability with 140,000 users. And it's been around ever since.

But this year will be its last - on the 30 June 2008, Beeb will close down and be no more.

According to the Guardian, the number of customers on its broadband packages are now less than 250.

I was a customer of beeb.net myself for many years, until I departed for the world of broadband. Indeed I was a happy customer - having had no end of problems with other ISPs, Beeb was always reliable and dependable, with good customer service - just the kind of things as a customer that you want, and which the BBC needed to provide in order to maintain it's brand image!

The closure of beeb.net is an end of an era. True most people won't notice that it's gone - there want be riots in the streets, or hoardes of people sobbing outside the offices, but the end of an era it will be. The end of an era when everyone could setup and run their own ISP - and did. An era when mainstream company after mainstream company rushed out to persuade their customers that the internet was out there; that the internet was great; and that they were the company you should get it from.

And it was an era when people did just that.

So long beeb.net. You lasted far longer than most, and you did your job and you did it well. Your time has come now but in the annals of UK internet history, you will have your place. So long, and goodnight.

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Francis Cook said:

>in the anals of UK internet history

Um...

And after a excellent write-up of the service :)

Posted on 21 April 2008 at 8:12 AM

Andrew Bowden said:

Ah, whoops! Now corrected!

I do have an excuse. When I was at University, I hung around a usenet group called dur.general, and we had some stats regularly run on it for top posters, which was called the durge anal (you'll find a modern equivalent on Google!) Unfortunately it got stuck in my brain...

Posted on 21 April 2008 at 9:12 AM

P Edant said:

> Now corrected!

Or, um, not...

Think you're wanting _annals_

Posted on 7 May 2008 at 2:15 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Sometimes I think it would be easier to just do an audio blog...

Posted on 7 May 2008 at 9:35 PM

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