It’s the end of an era: Owned by KPN, Dutch Internet pioneer XS4LL (a play on words of the pronunciation of ‘access for all’ by Dutch folks (the ‘x’ sounds like ‘ex’ and not ‘ax’ in Dutch, so ‘excess’ for all the non-Dutch) was founded back in 1993 and has very loyal clients. I write this knowing a lot of their clients, including my co-blogger Branko, and a lot of friends who either work or have worked there.
By loyal clients, I also mean they will not stay on with KPN after XS4ALL ceases to exist, but have also launched a petition to keep XS4ALL, which is not something you see everyday for a profit-making company. Chances are, it won’t change anything, but it will give you an idea of how much people care about the company.
And why is that? Well, XS4ALL was Internet-savvy before having Internet was a thing in the Netherlands. Apparently, it’s the third oldest Internet service provider (ISP) in the country, after NLnet and SURFnet. According to Wikipedia, XS4ALL was the second company to offer Internet access to private individuals, which was not a given when the Internet started to be a telecommunications staple. One of its founder is Rop Gonggrijp, a well-known hacktivist in international circles.
In the mid 2000s, XS4ALL was big, and one of the main reasons was because they gave really good service. You were talking to people who were all Internet fans, not just working stiffs with stupid answers. They helped win the battle against spam back when you would get 100 to 200 spam mails a day and fought a lot of other battles as well, winning quite a few.
XS4ALL was bought by KPN (the big Dutch provider) in December 1998, but stayed in its bubble to a certain extent until this year. KPN is now trying to convince its XS4ALL clients that ‘only the name will change’ and there’s nobody buying that, to the point were many loyal clients will change providers out of principle.
If you feel strongly enough about it, you can also sign the petition (in Dutch).