Sat, 16 Apr 2016
Dial-up is considered a very obsolete and rather unfavorable way to connect to the internet simply due to its poor connection speed. Why would anybody in their right mind choose dial-up when cable, DSL, and other much faster internet connections are available? Not to mention there were no computers produced in the last number of years with dial-up modems in them. The modem issue is an easy fix: you can get an external USB dial-up modem from ThinkPenguin. There's also the problem of needing a landline phone connection - another thing that's going the way of the dinosaur as more people ditch wired phones in favor of cell phones. But even then, just having a landline doesn't cost very much per month either, even if you choose not to have a phone. That's the benefit of outdated technology/communication: it's cheap!
So what's good about dial-up? The slow 56 kbit/s speed can be a big turn-off in today's fast-paced world, but that's not to say this form of internet connectivity doesn't have its upsides.
One is that dial-up is cost-effective. As far as pricing for high-speed internet service, I pay almost $100 per month. And that's just for internet access. It's not one of those bundled packages that I've seen the cable company offer with TV or whatever else included.
In addition to being expensive, in a study by Ookla Speedtest, the U.S. isn't anywhere near the top 10 -- ranked 42nd globally for upload speeds -- in countries where those faster internet connections are far less expensive. Why pay all that money for something that ranks so poorly globally?
I almost had access to a 1 gbps fiber optic connection. This city already has a fiber network that's been built and paid for with taxes from the people living here. Why not let the people use it? The telephone and cable companies made sure that didn't happen. Now the people here get to be stuck with their slower internet access.
While dial-up isn't going to work very well for everything that someone might want to do online, it will be significantly cheaper, usually anywhere from $10 to $30 per month, depending on your service provider. This is more in line with what people in other countries pay for much faster internet access. Let's face it - some folks want/need internet access, but either can't afford the high prices that US ISPs charge for high speed access (and for static IP addresses, the ability to run servers, which is normally banned by their Terms Of Service, etc.) or can't even get it at all. The U.S. also ranks poorly for nationwide availability of high speed internet access, where millions of people cannot get it. Dial-up isn't spectacular, but it's available to anyone with a phone line, and it's better than no internet at all.
It's sad to have to think of it that way but the lack of competition means that costs, speeds, and availability are unlikely to improve in the future. At least dial-up beats out high speed internet access in terms of costs and availability. Two out of three isn't bad.
What other benefits might there be to dial-up? You get a new IP address with each connection. Not only does it make running a server more difficult (hey, basic email doesn't need much bandwidth), dial-up basically serves as a free proxy server: It would be much more difficult for any websites you're on to keep you permanently banned... if you do something warranting loss of your account, that is. Many sites will ban via IP address along with the offender's username, so if you've got a constantly changing IP, you can easily keep on going back under new names (so dial-up can be a good thing for internet trolls).
Another benefit is free virus protection. Just about all viruses floating around out there right now are so large that they require a fast internet connection just to infect someone's computer. Dial-up is so insanely slow that there's no way your connection could even download a modern virus. If you've got dial-up, you can toss out your anti-viral software and free up some space on your hard drive because your internet connection will, quite frankly, be too terrible to facilitate a virus.
Believe it or not, there are a handful of internet service providers who still offer dial-up today. The reasons to have faster internet connectivity (assuming that you can even get it and then afford it) almost certainly outweigh any "benefits" dial-up can provide, but if any of the aforementioned "benefits" tickles your fancy (and you're willing to sacrifice things that require a high-speed connection), perhaps you should consider looking into dial-up. As a small aside, you will probably want to make certain that your phone service has a call waiting option (which can be used in conjunction with most dial-up services) to ensure you don't miss any calls while your phone line is occupied.
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