Monday, February 04, 2008

Pipex Business to lose prime asset - It's name!

Tiscali's acquisition of the Pipex Broadband last year, has had an interesting knock on. It appears that as part of the deal Tiscali acquired the PIPEX brand; so the business end of the operation has got to change it's name. The new name for PIPEX Business is apparently Vialtus .

It's been a long journey for the PIPEX name, since the Monday morning in 1991 when
the original founder, Peter Dawe, bounced into my office and said "hey Steve; Public IP Exchange - PIPEX, what do you reckon?!" I doubt it mattered what I thought, but he was clearly excited. For weeks he had been struggling to find a really "meaningful and pointy" name for the UKs first commercial Internet services provider.

Despite many changes of hands, PIPEX has remained a benchmark of the UK internet scene; justifiably known for it's quality products, support and services ethos. Pipex continued to grow business customers even as it became better known for its consumer offerings.

Losing such an established brand identity is a big issue for any business. But for an established ISP, ouch!! Ofcom reference over 500 ISPs in the UK; even when you take out those who are just reselling other peoples services, it's still over 170 competitors servicing UK business.

The market is overcrowded, economic situation is tightening and competition for corporate customers is now from international players like AT&T, Colt, Verizon and Rackspace. Even with a big bag of money from the sale of the consumer business; it's a brave time to launch a new brand.

So what next, well with the PIPEX name gone we think another power brand is likely to step in and pick up the business; as well as a lot of customers it has some very desirable physical assets.

Cable & Wireless, THUS, and Oakley Capital have all been named as possible suitors. Given their stated strategy of shedding customers, it would be mixed signals to the city from C&W, Oakley would probably want it for "parts", increasingly successful UK operator
THUS would seem to make much more sense.

Who knows, BT might even re-enter the fray; our latest research data, published next week, shows it could sorely use a couple of percent more market share in it's ongoing battle for corporate IP customers with US giant Verizon.

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