It might not have been the Brit Awards, but master of ceremonies and Robot Wars presenter Craig Charles, along with most of the audience, was happy of the fact. "Like Robot Wars, your industry looks really geeky from the outside," he told the ISP Awards in London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel on Thursday night after receiving a big hug from Kate Burns, head of sales at Google UK, "but you get here and it's not geeky at all. I'm so glad I'm not at the Brits."
Far from the almost out-of-town location of the Brits, the ISPAs audience in central London was not sure whether Burns was more thrilled to have won the Best Search Engine award or at the chance to hug Charles.
And although the ceremony lacked some of the spectacle of some recent Brit Awards -- there was nothing to quite match Jarvis Cocker's mooning -- the winners of the ISPAs did not shy away from controversy. FreeServe, whose site on the night was more concerned with that other awards ceremony, won Best Consumer Application for FreeServe Sitebuilder. The company also won Best Unmetered ISP, the company's representative taking a dig at rivals, saying he was "looking forward to the situation where we see AOL paying VAT and BT no longer cross-promoting its services."
The evening at the Marriott also had its crowd-pleasers. The most popular winner of the night was West Dorset Internet, which also won Best Broadband Supplier and received the most rapturous applause of the evening. Collecting the first award, founder Tim Snape paid homage to BT, the only company to draw no applause when its name was mentioned. Snape thanked BT -- to boos from the audience, which quickly turned to laughter -- for "spending money advertising broadband in locations they cannot supply it."
Unable quite to contend with the Brits, the ISPAs were not all rock-and-roll, and most winners gave perfunctory speeches. The Best Consumer Broadband Provider award was won by Pipex, while One.Tel walked away with the Best National Consumer ISP award.
Best Small Business ISP went to Fastnet, Best Business Broadband Provider went to Eclipse Internet, and Best National ISP went to Claranet. Best Hardware Supplier was Electronic Frontier, and the Best Carrier award went to Cable & Wireless, a win that Michael Decker, managing director of Corporate Internet (which sponsored this particular award) noted as he handed over the prize, was helped by the absence of Worldcom in the shortlist this year.
The Best Co-location Provider Award went to TeleCity, and Best Business Application went to JetSet from Community Internet. JetSet allows customers who are travelling internationally to connect to their nearest ISP, without registering, so long as that ISP is a member of the GRIC Alliance -- a worldwide network of ISPs with over 17,000 dialling locations in over 150 countries.
The Internet Watch Foundation Award for development in online safety, was given to Childnet for its Kidsmart initiative, which is designed to be a practical Internet safety advice Web site resource for schools.