Anyone here remember the days of dial-up Internet? They’re probably days best left forgotten, except for the fact that before things like ADSL and cable modems, it was the only way to get online for many people.

freeserve-logo
1998: The free Internet revolution begins

Back in 1998, the launch of Freeserve was pretty revolutionary as it offered Internet access for no monthly fee. Something you had to pay to be with other service providers.

For some years, many customers took on email addresses with domains provided by their service provider, instead of seeking to use free services like Hotmail (1996) or Yahoo! Mail (1997).

Google Mail didn’t even come out of beta until 2009 (and only launched in 2004)!

Freeserve was one such company that threw in free web hosting and email addresses, using a range of domains for different account types. Domains that will now be discontinued by the current owner, EE, in a matter of months.

This follows other changes in the past that saw the free web space axed (but at just 15MB, any sites still live today are likely dormant accounts, long since given up).

Along the way, Freeserve rebranded as Wanadoo (owned by France Telecom), and then Orange. These domains (see below) will also disappear at the end of May 2017.

Emails from EE will soon go out to customers still using any email addresses that will be axed, with advice to make arrangements to change to another service (GMail being the main recommendation).

The following domains being terminated are:

  • Orange.net
  • Orangehome.co.uk
  • Wanadoo.co.uk
  • Freeserve.co.uk
  • Fsbusiness.co.uk
  • Fslife.co.uk
  • Fsmail.co.uk
  • Fsnet.co.uk
  • Fsworld.co.uk

Chances (hopes?) are hardly anyone is still actively using an email address on one of these old domains. And in view of the fact that such changes could happen (and have happened) to people with another ISP, it shows why it’s vital to sort out email hosting (and web hosting if appropriate) independently.

After all, changing ISP every now and then can be a great way to save money, just like insurance, gas and electric. If you aren’t tied in with email or hosting, you’ll be able to swap much easier.

hzg0vjhfyg0-gary-rockett
What does a cow say? (Some of you will get the reference)

That said, I’ve been with EE home broadband for just over a year now and not had any issues, and the extra 5GB of mobile data thrown in free has been a welcome bonus.

Despite having been a customer of Freeserve in the early days, I had already registered my own domain a few years before. It has enabled me to ‘play the field’ over the years.

What disappointed me more was when Orange pulled the plug on the Wildfire voicemail system in 2005. A very early precursor to Siri and other AI systems, that Orange stopped supporting, stopped advertising and then (pretty) quietly axed.

Talking point

This announcement makes me want to hear from you about how this, and other things that have come and gone in the last 10-20 years or so, has affected you. If you aren’t directly affected, what about other members of your family? Such as older relatives that will soon be getting told they have to change email address, because they never even considered such a possible outcome?

What’s likely to be next? What are you doing to protect your digital presence. I mean, ten years from now it could be Gmail closing down. Or Dropbox. Or….

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Written by Jonathan Morris

Writing about mobile technology and other things of interest in the world of technology, for here and elsewhere - since the early 1990s! Former editor of What Mobile magazine, writer for The Telegraph, Stuff, Know Your Mobile, Pocket Gamer, Smart TV Radar and more. Forum moderator, regular Tweeter and occasional YouTuber.

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