UUNET is one of the largest Internet service providers and one of the nine Tier 1 networks. It is based in Northern Virginia and is the first commercial Internet service provider.
In the late 1990s UUNET was known as a haven for hosts who send large quantities of spam. Since the early 2000s, MCI/UUNET has taken several measures to reduce the amount of spam that traverses its global backbone. In 2006, MCI/UUNET was sold to Verizon Communications and now operates under the Verizon Business name.
Prior to its founding, access to Usenet
exchange from non-ARPANET
sites was accomplished using a cooperative network of systems running the UUCP protocol
lines. During the mid-1980s, growth of this network began to put considerable strain on the resources voluntarily provided by the larger UUCP hubs
. This prompted Rick Adams
, a system administrator at the Center for Seismic Studies, to explore the possibilities of providing these services commercially as a way to reduce the burden on the existing hubs.
With funding in the form of a loan from Usenix
, UUNET Communications Services began operations in 1987 as a non-profit corporation providing Usenet
exchange and access to a large repository of software source code and related information. The venture proved successful and shed its non-profit status within two years. At the same time, the company changed its name to UUNET Technologies
. In 1990, UUNET launched its AlterNet
service, which provided access to an IP
backbone independent of the constraints of those operated by the government. That network lives on in a much larger form and serves as the core of a set of products which include access at dial-up
speeds as well as web hosting
In the mid 1990s, UUNET was the fastest-growing ISP, outpacing MCI and Sprint. At its peak, Internet traffic was doubling every few months, which translates to 10x growth each year. The public disclosures of this growth substantially fueled the expectations of the dot.com and telecom companies of the late 1990s, leading to the dot-com bubble and crash in 2000/2001. In 2002, the owner of UUNET at that time (MCI Inc.) filed for the largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in history.
Today, UUNET is an internal brand of Verizon Business
). As of 2005
, its Internet service and infrastructure, assigned AS701
maintained the highest outdegree
of any ISP.
After it had been sold and resold during the onset of the dot-com bubble
, UUNET acquired the nickname SpewSpewNET
. This nickname was given because UUNET had become a home for many distributors of spam
, including distributors of both Newsgroup spam
and E-mail spam
. UUNET also became known for providing bulletproof hosting
to many web pages
whose chief form of advertisement was spam. Because UUNET started with a loan from Usenix
and controlled the e-mail
addresses for moderated Usenet
groups, it was hard to block Usenet from and/or e-mail traffic to it. In 1997
, UUNET had lost so much credit that on August 1st
, after finding alternate routes for moderated newsgroups, a Usenet death penalty
(UDP) was issued against UUNET. A week later, the UDP was lifted. In 1998 UUNET threatened legal action for hosting a GIF
with " SPAMUNET
" on it.
Although UUNET was purchased by Verizon
, it still is the ISP for many spammers. Verizon has been working to significantly reduce this. As of April 2006 Spamhaus
listed 83 known spam sources under the responsibility of Verizon Business.
Now Verizon has 27 listings (down from more than 200 when it had just bought the remnants of MCI).
- 1987 - UUNET Communications Services is founded and passes its first traffic via the CompuServe Network on May 12th using UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Protocol).
- 1989 - UUNET becomes a for-profit corporation
- 1990 - UUNET launches AlterNet
- 1991 - UUNET participates in the founding of the Commercial Internet Exchange Association
- 1995 - In May, UUNET is listed on the NASDAQ stock market in an initial public offering that would become part of the beginning of the dot-com boom.
- 1995 - UUNET Technologies Inc places a takeover bid against Unipalm Pipex.
- 1996 - UUNET Technologies agreed to a merger with the Microsoft backed MSF Communications Company.
- 1996 - Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS) acquires UUNET for $2 Billion
- 1996 - WorldCom acquires MFS on New Years Eve - Dec. 31st at 11:58 p.m EST for $12.4 Billion
- 1997 - Usenet death penalty (UDP) issued against UUNET, and lifted a week later
- 1998 - On September 15, WorldCom and MCI announced their US$37 billion merger to form MCI WorldCom after being given the go-ahead from the DoJ.
- 1998 - WorldCom acquires CompuServe Network Services from H&R Block and ANS Communications from AOL. Both become part of UUNET in 1999.
- 1999 - On October 5th, MCI Worldcom announces its intentions to buy Sprint for $129 Billion.
- 2000 - The European Commission and DOJ denied the MCI WorldCom / Sprint merger on Anti-Trust Grounds.
- 2000 - The UUNET brand is folded into WorldCom's product line and disappears
- 2003 - The UUNET brand re-emerges as WorldCom's wholesale-only brand
- 2004 - WorldCom renames itself to MCI, still using the UUNET brand for wholesale business.
- 2005 - MCI again drops the UUNET brand for wholesale business. The name is no longer in use to this date.
- 2006 - Verizon acquires MCI, including its UUNET subsidiary, now known as Verizon Business. AS701 remains the backbone of Verizon Business although its origin dates back to 1990 when it was under the UUNET flag.