Pipex are currently the talk of the ISP market with Tiscali showing increased interest in a potential sale. The Register reports on the deal being potentially announced within the coming weeks, rather than months. However, this will not be a total sale of Pipex and its cluster of ISPs, with Pipex having bought Freedom2surf, Nildram, Toucan and Bulldog over the last few years. The suggestions are that this will only take into consideration Pipex's residential customers, with their business services and domain registrations via 123reg remaining as they are. Over the last couple of year especially, there has been a large aspect of ISP consolidation, with the larger ISPs growing larger and the smaller companies having to fight harder and harder to retain their customer numbers by offering niche services, superior customer services and value additions to existing services. ISPs such as PlusNet, Metronet, Freedom2Surf, AOL amongst others have been unable to avoid the temptation of offers from the likes of BT, Carphone Warehouse and O2 (Telefonica owned). Over the last 12 months Pipex have made a conserted effort to become a Tier 1 ISP along with the likes of BT, Tiscali, Sky with reasonable sucess via consolidation of other brands. This move by Tiscali sees the second of the Tier 1 takeovers, with Carphone Warehouse having acquired AOL last year after the American owned company decided to ditch its UK brand. It would also add speculation to the thought that Tiscali are struggling to keep up with BT, Sky and TalkTalk without acquisition. Obviously BT would naturally grow under the theory that they would expect large levels of signups based on the familiarity that comes with a BT phoneline. Then you have Sky and TalkTalk selling unlimited* free* (terms apply) broadband services. Tiscali do gain a number of customers via TV marketing along with Dell machines coming with Tiscali dial software preinstalled, as do other companies. There have been recent suggestions that Pipex were starting to flounder, having made a number of staff redundant after their year end financial results were below the expected par, which was blamed on debt incurred from acquisitions. They also appear to have been somewhat clutching at straws having recently offered 6 months free service on their 18 month contracts and attempting to have a go at the free broadband game. The long and short has to be that they simply don't have the fanancial backing of the likes of Sky and Carphone Warehouse, which suggests that this is merely a ploy to stop the rot as it were. Here at PlusNet we continue to aim to be the best value ISP in the country. Free broadband cannot last forever. The relevant sums behind that simply state that it would be impossible for a sustained "free" service and one would expect the various deals surrounding the myth to slowly disperse until they are all withdrawn. We believe in the theory that you get what you pay for, which many will appreciate and we continue to offer a well priced service that places Wholesale costs in a similar level to those that our customers are able to gain from us. PlusNet's open and honest philosophy allows us to discuss with our customers how we price our services and ensure that they are able to gain timely updates on all the news about the services that we supply and openly discuss industry news with those that have an interest. So, will this be an end for the UK based Hoff? It doers look rather likely from all the speculation that has been seen recently. Still, we should all know in a month or so. It'll be the next in a long line of acquisitions. We could well be in a place 12-24 months down the line when only the Tier 1 ISPs exist, having swallowed up the remainder of the market.