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This article is about the historic Internet Service Provider in the United Kingdom. For the current company, see TalkTalk Group.
Pipex Internet Limited
Type Subsidiary
Industry Communications and Media
Fate Acquired
Successors TalkTalk Business
Founded 1990
Headquarters London, UK
Products Communications

Pipex was the United Kingdom's first commercial ISP. It was formed in 1990 and helped to develop the ISP market in the UK. It was acquired and merged a number of times and eventually became part of TalkTalk Group in 2008.

In 1992 it began operating a 64k transatlantic leased line and built a connection to the UK government's JANET network. One of its first customers was Demon Internet which popularised dial up modem based internet access in the UK. It was also one of the key players in the development of the London Internet Exchange through a meeting with BT in 1994.

The company was acquired and sold several times and by 2007 it had dropped to be the sixth largest ISP in the UK.[1] It was eventually absorbed into TalkTalk Group which merged it with its Opal brand.


The company was formed as the first commercial ISP in the UK by Unipalm in 1990 as The Public I.P. Exchange Ltd (PIPEX), founded by Peter Dawe.[2] In mid 1992, it began operating a 64k transatlantic leased line to UUNET and another to JANET.[3] One of its first customers was Demon Internet, shortly followed by the BBC.[3]

In November 1994, Keith Mitchell, then chief technical officer of PIPEX, initiated a meeting with BT to discuss the creation of a London-based Internet exchange. Pipex donated a Cisco Catalyst 1200 Network switch which formed the basis of LINX.[4]

Unipalm Pipex was sold to UUNet in November 1995 for £150 million, where it became UUNet/Pipex.[2][5][6]

The brand became known as Worldcom Pipex, after UUnet merged with MFS, which is later acquired by WorldCom before merging with MCI to form MCI WorldCom, later renaming back to MCI which was then taken over by Verizon Communications.[7] Pipex retained contracts with Verizon with regards to the network structure. David Rickards, Molly Frost (was Gower) and Michael Stern were the founders of the newly restructured Pipex dial-up business, both Molly Frost and Michael Stern sold their shares in 1997 leaving David Rickards as sole owner.

In June 1999, David Rickards was appointed Managing Director, when the Pipex business was transferred to Highway Ltd.[8]

In January 2002 saw the first push to provide digital subscriber line (DSL) lines instead of traditional modems and Pipex invested £2 million to get 40,000 DSL users online.[9]

In October 2003 Pipex was acquired by GX Networks plc, who retained the Pipex name, renaming itself to Pipex Communications plc.[10][11] Pipex remained a strong brand, and an internet service provider market leader.

Tiscali UK acquired the Pipex brand and business customers in September 2007.[12] Pipex Business was rebranded as Vialtus and was spun off as a separate company.[13]

Following the purchase of Tiscali UK by The Carphone Warehouse in May 2008, Pipex became part of the TalkTalk group. The TalkTalk Business brand, Opal Telecom, has accompanied the Pipex brand since early 2009.


Further reading[edit]

  • Costello, Neil (2000). Stability and Change in High-Tech Enterprises: Organisational Practices in Sme's. Routledge. ISBN 0415231213.