Pipex snaps up Bulldog's customers

Summary:Following what some have found to be an unsatisfactory ISP experience, Bulldog's customers have a new supplier

Long-suffering Bulldog subscribers now know who they've been sold to.

The Internet service provider's (ISP) remaining retail and small business customers have been acquired — at a fraction over £100 each — by the rapidly expanding Pipex, which has also announced a wholesale deal to let it piggyback off Cable & Wireless local loop unbundling (LLU) connections.

Cable & Wireless is the former owner of Bulldog, having acquired it in 2004 for £18.6m.

Pipex chief executive Mark Read admitted to ZDNet UK that his company would have had to pay a lot more for Bulldog's customer base if taking on the troubled ISP was a more attractive task.

"Pipex has taken on many challenges in the past. If it wasn't as much of a challenge, then Cable & Wireless might not want to sell, and if they did it would cost a lot more," he said on Thursday.

Read said that existing customers would remain on "Bulldog, powered by Pipex", but new customers would go straight onto a Pipex connection if the company had unbundled their exchange.

He also denied that there would be even short-term disruption for Bulldog's customers in the switchover.

LLU allows companies other than BT to install their own equipment in a BT exchange, which lets them offer their own wholesale telecoms services.

"We had a good look at [Bulldog] before we bought them," said Read. "Billing has been a problem, but we think they've now got a grip on most issues and we will clear out the rest.  The equipment in the exchanges is good stuff, from Marconi. Perhaps Bulldog over-promised in the past, but we think the billing issue is now cracked."

Pipex has also acquired IDT Telecom's Toucan ISP, which gives it 185,000 customers, for £24m. Bulldog's 110,000 customers cost it £12m, which brings its total voice and broadband customer base to 1.14 million subscribers.

Cable&Wireless was prompted to exit the broadband market after players such as Carphone Warehouse, Orange and BSkyB started offering so-called "free broadband" as part of fixed-mobile-broadband triple-play packages, although Bulldog has long suffered from customer dissatisfaction over issues such as billing.

As the Toucan purchase brings a fixed-line and mobile businesses, Pipex has now also become a "triple-player".

Topics: Networking


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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