Do People Use Dialup Isps? the Phone is Still Ringing

By: Don Reid

If you thought dial-up modems were going the way of the Dodo bird, there are still die hard analog modem users out there. Not only are thousands of Internet surfers still using dialup, but businesses often make the best use of dialups for nightly back up purposes.

A recent survey by Pew Internet (http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/184/report_display.asp) provided an insight into the current increasing market of high speed internet access from homes while revealing dialup users loyalty. Close to double the number of Americans who access the internet at their homes say they use broadband connections rather than dial-up, according to data released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in late April 2006.

Statistics show American adults with broadband access at home increased 40 percent from 60 million to 84 million people in the year leading up to March 2006 – two times the rate of growth from the previous year according to another recently released Pew study. The majority of users surveyed, 62 percent, reported accessing the Internet from some form of high-speed service, while 34 percent stated they still used analog (dialup) modems – and they would continue to use dialup. That translates close to 25 million additional Americans are using broadband in 2006 than in 2005. With figures like that, it might seem like the demise of dial-up is knocking at the industry door.

Don't plan dialup's funeral just yet. Apparently, there is still a market for people who's online needs are easily met with analog modems. The study also revealed that the majority of dial-up users, 60 percent, told the Pew pollsters that they had zero interest in upgrading to broadband. Another barrier analog modem cyber-surfers face: broadband is simply not available in their area. Dialup internet access is often the only choice for rural town internet access.

In addition to availability, the research hypothesizes that many dial-up users reject high-speed Internet services because of having to pay twice the price. The average monthly fee for cable Internet access was $41, DSL service was $38, where dial-up was only $18 per month. For web surfers everywhere, the monthly bill is enough to justify staying on dialup internet access.

With new technology and different business models, dialup providers are offering faster connection speeds than ever. By blocking pop-ups and other advertising images, users can often get the speed they need for email and web browsing. Like many services, it depends on what you want to use it for. Dial-up is still usually not fast enough for those wanting to download 100's of MP3 and movie files.

While it does not presume to be a market for fast growth, the dialup internet providers who understand these user's needs will continue to have a stable businesses for the casual internet user. If getting email and browsing text web sites is main need, dialup may very well be the best solution. An additional phone line is not always needed because the dialup user's habits do not justify it. There are also technologies like "catch-a-call" which work in tandem with a user's online connection and call waiting to keep from missing calls.

Another market the dialup access providers are pursuing is dialup connections to upload nightly receipts through an internet connection vs. paying long distance charges for a direct connection. While long distance costs have plummeted in the past 10 years, there is still a great advantage to making that local call each night to a dialup ISP instead of paying long distance charges.

With committed customers on the books and new ones dialing into the world wide web, it appears dialup ISPs can keep answering the call for online service in the foreseeable future.

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