Remember dial-up – that weird, hollow, echoing sound that defined your childhood? For most of us, this way of connecting to the internet quickly became a relic once high-speed broadband spread across the country.
And with all the talk of (affordable) gigabit-speed internet coming to our homes in the very near future – if it hasn’t already – we thought it’d be interesting to explore what’s happening on the other, slower side of the spectrum.
So, we dug into some statistics about good ‘ole dial-up Internet, and we found that it’s still far more relevant than we ever would’ve imagined. Ready your surprised face.
Fast stats from the slower side of the information spectrum
According to a 2013 study published by the Pew Research Center, 3% of the entire United States still connects to the world wide web via a dial-up connection. That’s more than 9.4 million Americans, folks. And while there are a variety of dial-up providers still out there – such as EarthLink and PeoplePC – the first consumer internet connection, AOL, is still putting up big numbers.
Based upon its own quarterly earnings report in 2015, AOL still holds a steady dial-up user base of more than 2.1 million people. And all those 56k modem connections essentially mean that those 2.1 million people still experience the web like it’s 1995. In comparison, the average U.S. broadband speed is 11.4 Mbps per second – which is 200x faster than dial-up.
And yet, at the same time, this also proves that the popular grandpappy of connectivity is still relevant and useful to many people – even all these years later.
Why (and where) folks prefer their dial-up
People always have their own reasons for choosing the type and speed of internet they want in their homes. But, we wanted to dig into exactly what these might be. So, here are the main benefits of choosing a dial-up Internet connection.
Ease and availability
If you already have a traditional phone line hooked up in your home, then you can quickly have dial-up Internet access as well, in no time at all. Just have a dial-up Internet service provider make the connection – and purchase a modem to translate the signal – and you’ll be on your way.
As long as you’re not trying to stream HD video or load every high-resolution picture a photographer has ever taken, then dial-up internet can likely take care of all your web-browsing internet speed requirements. Once you’re online, you can expect a consistent connection.
Dial-up is most definitely not the fastest horse in the internet race. But, if you’re not getting online that often – and you’re mostly just checking email or lightly Googling things when you are – then you’ll be just fine. Because there’s no need for a racehorse when a workhorse can get the job done just as well
Dial-up is literally the cheapest way to connect to the internet. The average AOL dial-up user pays just $20 a month to get online. Plus, there are even some dial-up plans available for less than $20 a month from various providers.
And when the Pew Center researchers asked these same dial-up subscribers what it would take for them to switch to a broadband Internet connection at home, they had a variety of answers. 35% said the price would have to fall, 17% said it would have to become available where they live, and a surprising 20% said nothing would ever get them to change. (Maybe they just love the sound of dial-up trying to tap into the Internet too much to ever let it go.)
On top of all that, interestingly enough, there was no notable difference related to where dial-up users lived. Rural residents, city dwellers, and suburbanites are all equally likely to be dial-up home Internet users. And, strangely enough, a whopping 15% of American adults do not use the internet at all.
But in today’s age of information, that’s an odd choice given how quickly the world changes, and so quickly news can travel on it. So if you’d like to change your current provider or have a new internet connection set up in your home – dial-up, broadband or otherwise – then just let us know.
Our internet experts can help you choose the best internet service provider for your home’s needs – all for free – even if you’ve grown to love a slower slice of life.