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Many Internet Users Happy With Dial-Up 571

prostoalex writes "With cable and DSL operators constantly pushing the values of broadband, and with the President of the United States himself announcing broadband access a priority, the New York Times reports (free reg. req.) that some people actually are perfectly satisfied with their 56K connection. In February 2003 Pew Internet conducted a survey, where they found out 60% of dial-up users weren't interested in switching, a year later in 2004 the percentage was roughly the same."
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Many Internet Users Happy With Dial-Up

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  • not everyone is interested in making first post.
    • In February 2003 Pew Internet conducted a survey, where they found out 60% of dial-up users weren't interested in switching, a year later in 2004 the percentage was roughly the same."

      Hmmm - wonder how a typical response went like ... I'm thinking something among these lines:


      Q: Are you interested in switching to broadband?

      A: Broadband? Bah - in my day I used cans and a string to access the local bulletin board, and that was good enough for me! This fancy schmancy broadband is just marketing schmuck

    • by ScottGant ( 642590 ) <[scott_gant] [at] [sbcglobal.netNOT]> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:41PM (#8910215) Homepage
      I started out on dial up way way way back when the only access was dial up BBS's...like The Ward Board and other BBS's in the Chicago area. Then moved to dial-up Internet usage through Interaccess...also in Chicago. Through Interaccess I then moved up to ISDN connection...then finally AT&T came to my area and I signed up with @home/ATT.

      I went through the @home/ATT/Comcast shake-ups, but I ALWAYS loved my broadband. Even with Comcast I didn't have much downtime and the speeds were just great. I loved it.

      But now, me and my family had to move to St. Joseph, Michigan and the only high-speed (where I am) is this fly-by-night ISP called "Green County Cable". I mean, they SUCK. They are down quite a bit, and their speeds are 400 kilo bits sec...down from the great 3Mega bits sec I was getting when I was last on Comcast (they upgraded from 1.5 to 3).

      Add to the fact that I'm paying the exact same price I was paying for Comcast...and it SUCKS. But even after all that, no way would I ever ever ever go back to plain dial-up. It's just way too slow.

      I have a feeling that if all those people that are satisfied with dial-up were given a taste of broadband, they'd never go back. I know from experience my mother-in-law. She's been on AOL for years, and had no intention of ever switching. But Comcast came through her neighborhood and offered to hook her up for free for 30 days...and she's never gone back to dial up.

      It's like the drug pushers...the first hit is always free.
      • It's like the drug pushers...the first hit is always free.

        I stick with dial-up at home because the fix at work is free. I do the DL/s at work at much higher than DSL or Cable speeds and dial-up gets me on Slashdot and e-mail on the weekends.

        Why spend the extra $30/month if you don't have to? With the (30*12) $360/year saved, I buy a toy like a digital camera or GPS.

        In my area Comcast is the only provider. They charge an extra $10/month if your not a cable TV subscriber. The extra surcharge is keepin
    • I envison a new Onion article:

      Area man constantly mentioning he's happy with dial-up.

      NOWHERE, IL: Area resident Jimmy Jacobs does not have broadband, a fact he repeatedly points out to friends, family, and coworkers - as well as to his mailman, neighborhood convenience-store clerks, and the man who cleans the hallways in his apartment building.

      "I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than reading web sites," Jacobs told a random woman Monday. Last week, there was a printout of
    • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:51PM (#8910364) Homepage Journal
      IMHO it is pretty simple actually. Average, email- and browser-using people don't want to spend an extra $10 / month for what they consider to be a hassle to setup. People fear change, and judging by my work with people who have obtained broadband connections with one company but are still paying AOL $10 / month for basically an email address, they might have a point. There are people out there that want to take advantage of their ignorance.
      • by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @09:56PM (#8912251) Homepage
        Many of us are cheap bastards. I pay approx $12/month for dialup through eskimo.com. My shell access is perfectly acceptable in response time, as well as the websites I visit (slashdot can be a little slow, but google, yahoo, christdot.org, and the informational sites I visit all load at a decent speed).

        In addition, I'm not even at 56k. I'm connecting on a used 28.8 modem because my computer came with one of those stupid winmodems and I had to switch with my parents.

        It's really not a bad gig. I have SDSL at work, so I can download anything I want overnight at work, and burn CDs to bring it home. I'm not missing anything.
  • In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adam9 ( 93947 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:20PM (#8909913) Journal
    Most people don't wish to pay for premium channels with their cable subscription.
    • by RetroGeek ( 206522 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:23PM (#8909980) Homepage
      Most people buy Hondas not Ferraries.

      Most people eat hamburger not fillet mignon.

      Most people buy at WalMart not Maceys.

      Most people....
    • Re:In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Binky The Oracle ( 567747 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:53PM (#8911011)

      While the "premium channel" analogy has validity, I'd say that broadband is more like a microwave oven in the late 70s.

      Many people (my grandmother, for example) said that they didn't see the need for a microwave. The stove and oven were more than sufficient for their needs.

      Until they actually got one.

      My grandmother was a holdout until 1992, when she finally bought one. A week later, she mentioned to me that she couldn't believe she'd waited that long, and that it had changed the way she cooked (and she was always a really good cook).

      However, unlike a conventional oven (which is still better than a microwave for certain things like turkeys, bread, and pizza), there's not really anything a 56k connection does better than a broadband connection. Dial-up's only real advantage is that it requires no additional equipment or infrastructure, but that won't last long as the equipment becomes more common.

      Another example would be the cell phone or a TiVo... something that doesn't seem all that necessary until you actually use it, then you can't stand dealing with the old way. I'm not chained to my desk anymore because I can always forward my phone to my cell. I can't stand watching "live" tv now, because TiVo has unshackled me from the temporal fetters of the network programming droids.

      And I shudder inside when I have to stay in a hotel that doesn't have a broadband connection in the room... even text-email seems to take forever to download. I don't bother with web sites much when on dial-up.

      Spoiled? Yeah... but then I don't see many folks using rotary phones these days, either.

    • Re:In other news.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 )
      This study doesn't even say that most people don't want broadband. It just says that most people who don't have broadband don't want broadband.

      Just today cnn is reporting that 2 of 5 [cnn.com] "web users" do have broadband. The trend over the last 5 years is pretty clear!

  • silly people (Score:5, Insightful)

    by untermensch ( 227534 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:21PM (#8909918)
    This boggles my mind, I couldn't live without broadband.

    I'd be very interested to see how many of these people have ever experienced broadband, and if their attitudes would change if they had.
    I realize that broadband can be overkill for many people, but even casual web-surfing can be painfully slow on dial-up.

    Oh well, more bandwidth for me :)
    • Re:silly people (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:26PM (#8910036) Homepage
      > This boggles my mind, I couldn't live without broadband.

      At work: T3, DVD-Burner, USB Flash drive.

      At home: USB port, DVD-reader. 56k modem for emergencies.

      Total mantenance cost: around $4 a month on top of my phone bill.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        At work: T3, DVD-Burner, USB Flash drive.

        At home: USB port, DVD-reader. 56k modem for emergencies.

        In unemployment line: Priceless.

    • Re:silly people (Score:5, Informative)

      by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:35PM (#8910158)
      I'd be very interested to see how many of these people have ever experienced broadband,...

      I'm one of them.

      We have 100Mb throughout the work organization, with a link to Internet2. I've got a DSL connection to a remote system for work. Yes, I think I've experienced broadband.

      I almost never surf at home. When I do, I sometimes think "I ought to get broadband", but when it comes down to doing it, it's not a high priority. Because it is slow, I never enable images or scripts, which means I never get popups or annoying ads.

      I does email and sends a bit of data out to be posted on a website. Most of that is automatic. I have more media (music, radio, and TV) than I can watch and listen to already, I don't need to download more. I gets distros on DVD or CD, either from work or in Linux Format.

      Why do I need broadband at home?

      As an aside, I actually did "get" broadband, for a day. I experienced the Qwest "Spirit of service Inaction". The qwest sales team lied to me and told me that static IP was included in the price they had quoted me. When it came time to deliver, they wanted $15/month more. That was after they installed the service on the wrong line, and then said it would take another week to get it right. They lied to the state public service commission when I complained, so I never got any action taken against them for the fraud they committed.

      So, why do I need broadband?

    • Re:silly people (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:39PM (#8910202) Homepage Journal
      For anybody who is online lots, Broadband is a good idea. For me, at least, The combined cost of a second line and a reasonable dialup plan is about the same price as my ADSL connection. It's not even vaguely worth going to dialup.

      If, on the other hand, I was like my friends who only check their email every couple of days, there'd be no value to going to DSL... I can wait an extra 3 minutes for all of that spam.

      As a general rule, I'd say that if you don't go online enough to make getting a second line worthwhile, there's a low probability that you could reasonably justify a broadband connection (and vice-versa). People who are wealthy enough that they wouldn't even pause to think about the $20/month but want their spam and porn right now the 3 days a week that they are online are an exception.
      Some people can find better things to do with the extra money (like paying for theatre tickets).

    • Re:silly people (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:56PM (#8910417) Homepage Journal
      I'd be very interested to see how many of these people have ever experienced broadband, and if their attitudes would change if they had.

      Kind of like how many people remain virgins until they're married, but once you KNOW about sex, you're far less likely to intentionally be celibate for many years.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:21PM (#8909926)
    There's nothing like the shear deluge of porn available to broadband users to turn one of sex entirely.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomcrick ( 687765 ) <tomcrick@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:21PM (#8909931) Homepage
    ...but have they actually had the chance of using broadband to compare it to dial-up?

    Definitely the case of 'once you've tried it, you'll never go back...'
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bee-yotch ( 323219 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:29PM (#8910082) Homepage
      This is exactly the reason for these stats. There's not a single person I know who's used broadband for more than a month that would be willing to switch back to dial-up.

      Give all those people 1 or 2 months of free trial broadband, and then force them back to dial-up and I garauntee that those percentage's will change pretty fast.
      • Here in Australia, no matter which broadband ISP you go with, you need to pay our resident telco monopoly (Telstra) AUD$139 for the "privilege" of enabling broadband on that phone line. This make the economics of a free trial untenable unless you can convince a significant proportion of trial users to become full time broadband subscribers.

        I'd love to see a few ISPs offer a free trial, but I fear that the ones who will are the biggest players, who offer the worst possible contracts compared to the real val
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phamlen ( 304054 ) <phamlen@@@mail...com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910134) Homepage
      Actually, I am one of those who used to have high-speed and now I don't.

      My logic is pretty simple:
      1) I have high-speed at work for anything serious.
      2) When at home, I really don't want to spend time on the Internet. I get to read, garden a little, talk to my wife, generally behave like a non-geek.
      3) When I had high-speed internet, I would always be on. It's addicting.

      So I discontinued my cable-modem. I can honestly say that I much more enjoy saving the $40 than the experience of high-speed internet (but maybe just because I get that at work.) Still, it's remarkable how much you can do on the Internet over a dialup. Google, for instance, is fast even on a dialup (as is the Google cache.)

      • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Funny)

        by 0x0000 ( 140863 ) <zerohex@zerohex.cUMLAUTom minus punct> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:54PM (#8910385) Homepage
        My logic is pretty simple: 1) I have high-speed at work for anything serious. 2) When at home, I really don't want to spend time on the Internet. I get to read, garden a little, talk to my wife, generally behave like a non-geek. 3) When I had high-speed internet, I would always be on. It's addicting.

        You wanker. Get a life ...

      • Re:Maybe... (Score:3, Informative)

        by queequeg1 ( 180099 )
        I had a similar experience. I moved from Tacoma WA (where there are multiple broadband options) to a place called Brush Prairie (hard to get more small town than that). My internet connection is through smoke signals (Qwest has promised the tin cans and twine upgrade sometime next year). No DSL. No cable. And my dial up is screaming when I manage to get 28.8 speeds (forget 56K stuff). It was really painful.

        However, I've got 6 acres to mess around on with my wife and dogs. I periodically think about
      • Re:Maybe... (Score:3, Informative)

        by bwy ( 726112 )
        1) I have high-speed at work for anything serious.
        2) When at home, I really don't want to spend time on the Internet. I get to read, garden a little, talk to my wife, generally behave like a non-geek.
        3) When I had high-speed internet, I would always be on. It's addicting.

        I use similar logic for no longer having cable TV. However, I felt cable TV was something that draws you in and demands a strong time commitment. Broadband, on the other hand, makes it easier to download software, upload 4 megapixel
    • but why.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pranjal ( 624521 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:39PM (#8910199)
      .. switch to broadband if they feel they don't need it? I wouldn't switch to a porsche if I'm happy with my Chevy for daily commuting unless I want a jazzy car with high performace.

      So why would a user switch to broadband for just checking emails and browsing some websites if this can be done reasonably well using dial-up?
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:3, Informative)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      also when it's impossible to keep your machine up-to-date with dialup nowadays anyways.

      please also notice that in europe(at least around here) there is NO free local calls.

      broadband gets cheaper quite fucking fast when it costs even 1-2 cent per minute. considering when I lived back at still at my parents it was not unusual to get a (what amounts to)200-300$ phone bill.

      so for a even modest 'power user' getting broadband is a cost issue rather than just plain speed issue around here..
  • by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:21PM (#8909934)
    Out of those 60% how many have actually used high speed and know what a difference it makes?
    • by System.out.println() ( 755533 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:26PM (#8910023) Journal
      The percentage of dialup may have remained the same, but the number of total dialup users has decreased (I think), as more and more of the country gets wired with broadband. So while it may be 60% and 60% now, it's probably more like 100 million then and 75 million now. (Numbers completely pulled out of my ass, but you get my point.)
    • by antic ( 29198 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:35PM (#8910153)
      I definitely agree. There's hardly a great campaign of public education out there. For me, the "always-on" side of broadband is a great advantage, but not many people outside the IT realm would be aware of that. I have a wireless router (cheap) hooked up to my ADSL so that I can open up my laptop anywhere in the house or nearby and be reading news, researching, working, emailing, etc. 60% might not want broadband, but how many of those would be aware that these things are even possible?

      I find that far more liberating and useful than being tethered to a desk in a corner near the phone jack, and having to tie up the phone line while I'm online.

      I don't know what call costs are in the US, but in Australia, you're generally paying 20c a call to dial-up. If you dial up 2-3 times a day (norm in my house pre-broadband), you've got your $25/month dial-up account + $18/month in calls. Suddenly your slow-poke connection that controls the phone line too is $43/month and not looking so fantastic against the $59/month ADSL connection with 12GB of data allowance.

      I'm more than aware that families are being hit with costs like never before (monthly bills for gas, water, electricity, mobile phones (my household has at least 4), internet access, pay TV, and so on, but I'd choose broadband over pay TV, and definitely over dial-up. Imagine never hearing a modem handshake again. Bliss!
      • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:18PM (#8910664) Homepage
        I don't know what call costs are in the US, but in Australia, you're generally paying 20c a call to dial-up.

        One of the peculiarities of US phone service left over from the old AT&T monopoly is that all but the cheapest of residential plans allow free unlimited local calling. You can get straight metered service to save a few bucks if you never make any outgoing calls, but usually only the forgotten elderly do that. Back in the old Ma Bell days, local service was pretty well subsidized by expensive long distance rates. Perhaps it was to encourage residential phones so businesses would have someone to telemarket to...

      • You're probably right that anyone outside of the IT realm may not understand the value of "always on", but the "always on" nature of broadband is a BIG plus for Aunt Tillie (or Mom, in my case.) The one caveat is that someone with a clue has to do the initial setup.

        I originally set my mother up with dialup, since that was all that was available in her area. Once a month or so I had to do telephone support with her to try and figure out what she had broken. The phone number got erased from the dialer pro
  • by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:21PM (#8909938)
    I would guess a lot of users are happy with the 'portability' of a dial-up connection - ie. laptop in a hotel room. Broadband may be ubiquitous, but not as much as dial-in appears to be.
  • Duh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:22PM (#8909953) Journal
    Ok, why is this a suprise to anyone? Many users do nothing more than look at a few pages and send/receive email. For them, that is the internet, that's all they want and care about. So, for those the people, there is no reason to pay the extra for broad band. When you can get dial-up for US$10/month a month, or less if you are willing to put up with ads, and basic broadband starts at US$30/month, is it really worth it to get your email a second or two faster?

    • Re:Duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ironsides ( 739422 )
      Many users do nothing more than look at a few pages and send/receive email.

      That is about all my parents ever do. The kicker is the attachments that they send and recieve. Do you know how long it takes to recieve 60megs of pictures? They have people they know sending them theses pictures (they need them for newsletters) who don't notice the size due to broadband. First time we find out about it is:

      Ok, its at 2% and 15 minutes have gone by, what the #@%$ are we getting this time.
  • I can relate to that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:22PM (#8909955) Homepage Journal
    As a sysadmin at a small to midsized web hosting firm, I find that dialup is all I need. I have tried time and time again to justify broadband at my house but as a single income household with 2 kids and my disabled wife, I can't afford it and do not really need it. If I need something that's broadband only (Latest distro ISO or something) I login to my server here at the NOC (45MB DS3) and download it there. Then I grab it on my laptop the next day at work. NO BIG DEAL. Even if I did not have 45mb/sec here at work I would still be OK with dialup. Heck most of us just check mail right?

    Seriously though, the most I do is check mail, a few forums, and some web publishing. All low bandwidth stuff. So, I agree with the story. Broadband is nice but not necessary.
    • by On Lawn ( 1073 )

      Actually, most people I know of that are happiest with dial-up have access to broadband and a CD-Burner at work.

      Between Gentoo, a personal website, Desert Combat its a habit I can't kick. The good news though is that now I feel I have no need for Cable TV.

  • not interested in broadband are the ones who've never used it. It took about 24 hours for me to patch my mom's windows 95 box across AOL, with the phone service tied up the whole time.

    Totally ridiculous.

  • In a related survey, 60% of dialup internet users were found to be smoking rocks.

  • Do the math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tagishsimon ( 175038 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:23PM (#8909976) Homepage
    So at any given time, 60% of dialup users do not want to switch. 40% do switch. Next year, 60& want to switch => some of the original 60% must have switched sides to the 40%.

    In other news: dog bites man.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:23PM (#8909978)
    Let's consider the users who do nothing but e-mail with their Internet connection...

    - Faster speed is not much of a benefit to them. They don't download images very often, and they're fine with walking away from their computer for however long it takes while those downloads happen.
    - They don't particularly care about their phone callers getting busy signals, they don't get that many really important phone calls anyway.
    - To them, changing e-mail addresses would be a nightmare. Some are even clinging onto address that they've had since 1994. The ISP may have gone defunct, but the old domain name is still being supported by the ISP that aquired them. Look at all the legacy domains Earthlink is still supporting. [earthlink.net]
    - And, we're also talking about people who hate monthly bills. For retired people, they plan their budgets very carefully and even a $10/month difference bothers them.

    Bottom line... not everybody wants an always-on Internet connection. Sure, everybody reading Slashdot who doesn't have one wants one... but there are a lot of people in the USA who wouldn't even know what Slashdot is.
  • The majority of dialup users are using the net mainly to visit websites and check email. That kind of content still is perfectly viewable at dialup speeds (and with proper CSS design can be rather full-featured).

    Even with sites polluting their content with flash banners and the like, for plain old website reading, dialup might just be fine.
  • by xWeston ( 577162 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:24PM (#8909990)
    A majority of people on Dial Up dont realize how slow it is because they have never had the chance to use broadband on a daily basis. I have known people that were "Completely Satisfied" with their dialup connections, only until they got broadband and couldn't imagine using the internet without it.

    Text only pages, or ones with minimal images, are even much faster on broadband. They are still somewhat bearable with Dial Up, but anything with a decent image takes forever. Not to mention streaming legal videos, playing legal games, and downloading pr0....gressively more material.
  • by brundlefly ( 189430 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:24PM (#8909991)
    60 percent are satisfied. That means 40 percent want to switch. If you estimate that half of that 40 percent will actually switch to broadband, then the number of modem users has shrunk by 20 percent.

    So instead of saying "60 percent of modem users are happy", you could just as easily say "modem market shrinking by 20 percent per year". Most analysts would call that a dying industry.

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics. It's all how you spin it. (i.e. no story here, move along.)
    • So instead of saying "60 percent of modem users are happy", you could just as easily say "modem market shrinking by 20 percent per year".

      Not really. A friend of mine works for a dial-up (plus resold broadband) ISP, and their business seems stable. For one thing, there are new dial-up users being added to the market every day; not all of those new computer sales are replacements, and not all replaced computers are retired. Plus there is a core of dial-up users who will "never" go away (i.e. until there'

  • If last year 60% of modem users were satisfied, presumably a lot of them have since moved on to broadband. So if 60% of the remaining modem users now say they are satisfied, doesn't it follow that a lower percentage of the modem users who remain from last year are satisfied than they were before? For the most part, the ones who are still modem users are the ones who were satisfied a year ago, no? So why are only 60% of them satisfied now?
  • So, a year later, after many of the modem users had already switched to broadband, 60% of what was left were still perfectly satisfied. Sounds to me like that's actually a shrinking number of users that are satisfied with dial-up, not a constant number.

  • Cable and DSL are not available in remote areas of the country. I think CowboyNeal is in this situation and, thus, uses dial-up.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:26PM (#8910034) Journal
    Some people will happily drink soda or juice through what is, in fact, a coffee stirrer. Much smaller than a straw, but it acts enough like a straw to make it useful, even though the transfer rate is considerably slower.
  • Stats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Datasage ( 214357 ) <{moc.yergsidlroweht} {ta} {egasataD}> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:27PM (#8910047) Homepage Journal
    The 60% number remaining unchanged for 2 years means nothing. How did the population of dialup users change? did it increase? decrease? or stay the same?
  • Makes sense... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hendridm ( 302246 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:28PM (#8910055) Homepage
    Why enjoy $40 broadband when you can pay $30+/month for dialup goodness and an extra phone line. Mmmmm, dialup...

    Obviously, prices vary by area, but that's what it is around here.
  • by fordboy0 ( 547958 ) <jfeige@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:28PM (#8910063) Homepage
    A couple of my friends are dial-up only and quite content. Actually, one of them is a JSP and Oracle guy, who works for the gov't. The really humorous part to me is that he has no knowledge of how computers *work*, but he is one hell of a programmer.

    I also seem to notice that the friends without broadband seem to accomplish more and lead happier lives. Their lawns are not 8" tall all the time, the cars are always clean and they seem to keep a more tidy abode. Coincidence? Hmm...

    Now where did I put that Slack ISO? Ahh, I'll just download it again. While I'm doing that, I might as well go check out Slashdot [slashdot.org] or Fark. [fark.com] My grass can wait 'til another day. Like I care what the neighbors think...

    Thank God for broadband.

    • I also seem to notice that the friends without broadband seem to accomplish more and lead happier lives. Their lawns are not 8" tall all the time, the cars are always clean and they seem to keep a more tidy abode.

      Strangely enough, I find these two sentences to be contradictory.
  • Sure, why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:29PM (#8910083) Homepage
    Broadband access is $30/month or so, more in some area. For a lot of people, it's not worth that much to them. I can understand that - $30/month for cable/dish television isn't worth it to me.

    But you get so many more channels! And there's on-screen digital menus! And you can get a personal recorder! And! And! And!

    Yeah, all true. All very nifty keen. I just have things that are more interesting to me to spend $360/year on (or, say, $10,800 over the next 30 years before I retire). However, I can't stand being without broadband.

    I have relatives that just like to send e-mail. They compose off-line and batch-send. They use the web sometimes - mostly to shop - but often don't connect every day. Now they pay $15 a month or whatever for access and you could say that another $15 isn't much more...I'm sure when the difference gets down to zero they'll go broadband, but...

  • by bahamat ( 187909 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:30PM (#8910088) Homepage
    If there were 200,000 people in 2003 and 120,000 didn't care, then in 100,000 people in 2004 and 60,000 didn't care, you still work out with the same percentage of 60%.

    I'd be interested in seeing the raw numbers on this. In particular, I'd like to know the differential number on the "didn't cares" to see how many of those switched to broadband.
  • by ThomK ( 194273 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:31PM (#8910099) Homepage Journal
    Getting broadband eventually justifies itself. You become used to downloading things on a whim. Hell I even re-download large files I *know* are on my system somewhere, just because it's easier to find on the web.

    I'd like to see the study of users who to switch BACK to 56k after having broadband for a year or two. I bet by then it would be a necessity.

  • E-mail portability? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:31PM (#8910105)
    Some people clung onto their old cell phone providers even after another provider started better or cheaper service in their area simply because they wanted to keep their numbers. Number portability was the solution to that problem.

    Now, it'd be relatively simple to do this, just require that ISPs offer forwarding service for up to a year after a customer cancels, and the new ISP can kick back an e-mail telling anybody who's e-mails that the user has moved to them.
    Of course, no ISP is going to offer this without the government ordering them to... but couldn't the FTC or FCC step in on this one?
    • Now, it'd be relatively simple to do this, just require that ISPs offer forwarding service for up to a year after a customer cancels, and the new ISP can kick back an e-mail telling anybody who's e-mails that the user has moved to them

      A good point, but with one flaw I think. If the new ISP sends an email to the sender each time a piece of mail is forwarded from the old domain, what about spam? For each piece of spam mail, you would get twice the email volume. Not to mention that the spammers databases
    • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @11:31PM (#8913008)
      Many people, especially young people, use Hotmail,Yahoo, MSN, and probably Gmail pretty soon. That's the solution to non-portable ISP email addresses right there.
  • Cost vs. Value (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:33PM (#8910123) Homepage
    Having been a DSL user for a few years now, I can't personally imagine going back to a slow dial-up connection. The same can't be said about people going the other way, though.

    For a great majority of users, having a computer is enough of an issue as it is. It's a mysterious machine to them, and plugging in extra cash without knowing the benefits isn't an option.

    Even if they know and understand the speed benefits, it's often not enough to convince the low-end users to switch. So the pictures download noticeably faster...then what? Unless they're downloading pr0n or swapping major files, it's not that big a deal to them. Unfortunately, this is probably the same crowd that won't wait for Windows Updates to download because it's too much of a hassle.

    If you want to put the Linux vs Microsoft parallel to this situation, there's an analogy waiting to be used. People who are used to dialup will not move to the unfamiliar unless absolutely convinced that it's better, faster, and more stable. There's a lot of Windows users out there who are afraid to jump operating systems simply because they'd rather stick to the familiar.

    Same thing with dialup vs. broadband. Some people will willingly suffer through low speeds because they don't believe they need anything better.

    Of course the analogy breaks the moment pricing is mentioned. :)
  • by titaniam ( 635291 ) * <slashdot@drpa.us> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910132) Homepage Journal
    Those of you with older parents or grandparents will understand. Have you ever suggested an obvious improvement in any area to someone twice your age? Then you will understand. I'm sure a majority of these people are older folk whose kids or work forced a computer on them in the first place. Some people are just resistant to change of any kind, and those of us who are young now will likely be resisting the modernizing influence of our children in 30 years time.
  • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910141) Journal
    My parents house is in a rural area, with bad phone lines. They are lucky to get 24Kbps connections, and the actual throughput on the line is below that. If they could really get 56K connections (40Kbps, or whatever realistic throughput would be) they would probably be happy with it.

    As it is now, with their shitty dialup, they would definitely pay for DSL/Cable if it was available in their area.
  • by Uhlek ( 71945 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910142)
    Switching providers means more than just cutting dialup and getting a faster connection for $X more a month. There's also a few other issues at hand. The main one, of course, is the e-mail address. People *hate* to change their e-mail address. I'm one of them -- I pay for a proxy spam filtering service and deal with 3000+ spams a month to an e-mail address I've had for the last 8 years. It's a purely psychological attachment.

    And, the price difference is more than you might expect. Not everyone out there uses $24/month AOL. $9.95 dial-up is available from mom-and-pop ISPs all over the country, and some of these are even beginning to offer compressing proxies (ala AOL's "Optimized") to improve web browsing over 56k links.

    As for the AOL users, they are accustomed to the special features of AOL, and yes, their aol.com e-mail address. AOL Broadband is $15 a month, on top of your connectivity bill.

    And above that, there's just the percieved "hassle" of switching. They're relatively happy with what they have, and don't want to deal with getting a new service, cancelling the old one, telling their friends their new e-mail addresses, etc. etc. etc.

    I wonder if number portability requirements will ever extend to e-mail addresses ;-).
  • by JackAsh ( 80274 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:40PM (#8910214)
    I thought I had this all figured out a while back. I always figured broadband was a lifestyle thing. Having been a gamer for god knows how long now, I've always done things like keep my computer on 24/7. To me, dialup was an inconvenience - it kept me from being online instantly, the same way that I could flick the mouse and be back at my desktop instantly. When I went to broadband it was obvious that that was the way to go: always-on, instant access. It became a lifestyle change thing. I even observed the behavior change with different girlfriens over time: they'd go from "let's look up the pizza place on the phone book/yellow pages" to "look it up online".

    I actually observed the exact same change with my parents: They used to keep the computer off, as there was no reason to keep it on. If they needed something online (like checking their e-mail or looking at a couple of webpages), they'd turn on the PC, wait for it to boot up, fire up the dialup, wait for the connection, download e-mail/check stuff on web, and disconnect as quickly as possible since a) people could be calling on the phone; and b) phone calls were metered by the minute over where they live (Spain). For them, using the computer was a big barrier: You had to go through a long, involved series of steps before even being able to do what you wanted. Looking up someone's information was easier using 411 (over there, 003) than using the PC for it.

    Once I convinced them to do the DSL thing, the lifestyle changed completely - the computer remained on constantly, all you had to do to go online and check something was sit in front of it and type - it was always on . I know that's the point of it, but it's a huge mentality change. Seeing the transformation firsthand was amazing.

    The curious thing, I find, is the number of people in the article and in the forums here that have experienced broadband, and do so on a daily basis, yet still manage to resist it. Self discipline, cost, just-don't-need-it come up as (to me, surprising) reasons why they say no to broadband.

    To me, broadband vs. dialup is like cable/satellite vs. over-the-air reception, faxes vs. mail (back in the 80s), air travel vs. jumping on a boat to come to the US. It's just stuff that once you cross a certain frontier, a certain line, you can't just uncross it, you can't go back. The always-on availability of information, entertainment, and yes, even pr0n ;) is just impossible to turn my back to.

    Amazing stuff.

    -Jack Ash
  • by elton ( 5651 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:01PM (#8910466) Homepage
    I am a Systems Administrator and the absolute LAST thing that I want to do when I am at home is log on. I have the dialup account in case I have to log in and resolve a conflict with a server. I do most of my stuff via SSH. 56K suits me fine.

    I think it depends on what us dial-up users want. For me:

    • I hate anything with FLASH
    • I am not interested in movie clips from cnn.com or any other website for that matter
    • I don't download music
    • I don't online game
    • I occationally download a pdf file from the DMV or other useful site, but when I do, I can wait for it
    • I don't chat or IM
    So yeah, SSH and e-mail (and the occational gander at slashdot.org) is about all that I use. Dial-up is fine.
  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:03PM (#8910482)
    Some months ago my connection speed went from 1.5 DSL to 28.8 (previous local provider got bought out and my modem/router was incorrectly configured for the new provider, so I had to use a backup external dial-up).

    It wasn't all that bad, actually. It required a bit of planning and no Daily Show video downloads, but it made me wonder why I was paying CAN$40/month for DSL while only getting double FAX speed.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:14PM (#8910624) Homepage Journal
    I work 8-5. I sleep 10-6. I would therefore get 7 hours a day for most of the week out of a 24 hour connection -- at most I'd get 60 hours a week out of 168 that (A)DSL offers. Sure, there's plenty of stuff that I might be interested in downloading that could take advantage of the times I'm not there, but very little of it is legal. Anyway, most broadband deals in Australia turn crappy about 18 months after you get them and I don't want to have to hop from operator to operator every year and a half.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:26PM (#8910751) Homepage Journal
    Especially that evil one down here called Bell South. The same wonderful company that has recently tacked on an additional 3 dollars disguising it as a federal fee.

    Phone companies, Bell South is by the worse, don't want to offer lower priced products. Not only do they want out taxes to pay to build their lines they want to charge us insane rates to use them. Everything about the phone company is extortion. Example, if I want Caller ID I have to pay about 8 dollars extra! Now, I can get caller id as part of a package of services for only 12.95 (or thereabouts).

    What about their $30 a month DSL? Sure, 256 down! and only IF I subscribe to their expensive packages on my phone, like that $12.95 I mentioned earlier.

    I truly believe the only reason the Cable companies can keep such high rates is because the phone companies do it.

    I have given serious consideration to backing down to dial-up through a low cost provider. 30-40 dollars a month savings doesn't sound like much until you work it out across the year, then its 360 to 480. Thats many good dinners out with someone, some good computer hardware, or one motorcylce payment for me!

  • Reminds me of... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:36PM (#8910860) Homepage Journal
    Microwave ovens

    Cable TV

    Cell phones

    Personal computers

    All items that a certain percentage of the population sniffed at as unnecessary when they first hit the market. In fact there are probably more than a few Slashdot readers who don't have all four of the items listed above.

    But the point is that all four are now ubiquitous. They're so inexpensive and widely distributed that pretty much anyone who wants to purchase can do so.

    There are enough people demanding broadband in the U.S. that eventually it will become truly ubiquitous. There may be holdouts who use dial-up for many years to come, but the economic necessity of broadband access will ensure that it comes about either through private enterprise, government intervention, or a combination of the two.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:49PM (#8910969)
    People "satisfied" with dial-up have no idea that other services are available over broadband that can actually SAVE them money.

    By that, I mean VOIP.

    Voice Over Internet Protocol is the next "big thing" when it comes to broadband.

    My cable modem + Vonage VOIP service is cheap. No dial-up ISP and no copper phone line means i'm actually SAVING money each month.

    It's only a matter of time (and bandwidth) until everything comes over your IP connection - TV, voice, and data.

  • by Daath ( 225404 ) <lp@code r . dk> on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:51PM (#8910984) Homepage Journal
    On the front page, right now, next to this story is Ars [arstechinca.com]' story entitled "Home broadband adoption up 60% in US [arstechnica.com]" - This states some interesting facts: "There are now 48 million users with broadband at home, up 60% from last year's 30 million figure." - 20 mill. of those are DSL customers - also it states "DSL has climbed in popularity due in large part to price cuts which have brought prices down to the US$30 level for speeds of up to 1.5Mbps. When compared to spending US$20 for a dial-up connection or US$40-50 for high-speed cable, these budget DSL packages have proven to be attractive options.".
    So the question remains, why aren't the dial-up users spending the extra US$ 10 to get always-on broadband DSL? I'm guessing many of the dial-up users can't get DSL in the first place. But that doesn't explain this article though.
  • by appleLaserWriter ( 91994 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @08:37PM (#8911522)
    The last time I used dilaup was in 1994, just before leaving for college. Since then, I've had megabit-level internet access continuously since. I've just moved out of Seattle to look for work in LA. I'm staying at my grandmother's (rather nice) place just south of LA where she connects via dialup.

    First attempt was cable modem. The cable company wanted to wait three weeks before they could drop the modem off. In order to pick up the modem, the account holder needs to be present. Problem is, the account holder is my deceased grandfather (grandma doesn't want utility accounts in her name, as she is worried the spammers will know she is a widow and untold horrors will follow).

    So, I called up a quality DSL provider and ordered the best service they could guarantee for the line -- 1.5m down / 256k up. The DSL gear arrived in a few days, and service followed a few days later. The modem synced at 384k down / 128k up. The ISP's bandwidth tester measured 200k down and 22k up. Even better, the connection is highly intermittant, much of the time a ping to the ISP-side router results in 65 % packet loss! Actual service is ocasionally 2-3x dialup speed, but mostly intermittant. Grandma can't understand why her emails take hours to send (because the mail server can't be contacted...).

    I've arranged for the DSL people to contact the incumbant teleco and work on the line. This may happen in the next few days.

    At the same time, I'm in touch with the cable modem ppl who claim they can get a modem and install dude out in two or three days. Would be nice if they can accomplish this, but I'm not hopeful.

    As an experienced IT guy who has made fiber and DS3 cross connects, planned redundant router installations for small colos, and developed large portions of major software packages, I find this process very frustrating. For grandma, the difficulty is a thousand miles over her head.

    Grandma is eager to get back to dialup (which I've done, until the teleco or the cable ppl can give us a decent connection). I'm back to alternating between Starbucks WiFi, and bluetooth+GPRS.

    Even better -- Grandma's house is right on the beach in a rather high-rent neighborhood. The houses are huge, so the density of customers per square mile is low, and the distance to the CO is high.
  • 60% (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kakurenbo Shogun ( 64436 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @08:39PM (#8911540) Homepage
    they found out 60% of dial-up users weren't interested in switching, a year later in 2004 the percentage was roughly the same.

    10,000 people surveyed (note: I'm making up numbers to make a point)
    4,000 currently on dialup
    2,400 don't care to switch to broadband

    10,000 people surveyed
    1,000 currently on dialup
    600 don't care to switch

    "Last year, 60%, this year 60%" doesn't mean much without know whether a lot of the people who didn't care to switch a year ago have already switched.

  • DSL on a modem (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Siegler ( 3170 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @03:08AM (#8914036)
    You can really survive pretty well with just a good modem. I held on a long time before getting a DSL connection, and unlike the grandma's I used it a lot. I mean I would download the entire release images for Debian,Mandrake,Red Hat,Slackware just by downloading at night, day after day. I also played a lot of Q3 and UT over a modem, which seems amazing now, but you just have to accept your limitations and learn what works and what doesn't and deal.

    I had a really great ISP that had shell accounts on unix machines with all the usual GNU tools, so I'd write scripts to handle whatever tasks that required a constant connection. I had scripts that would even buy stuff without any user interaction. It's a good way to learn to test your code a lot before putting it into production.

    So it's not at all suprising that people can do without broadband. If a heavy user like myself could get by just about anybody could.

  • by danila ( 69889 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @02:43PM (#8919942) Homepage
    It seems everybody misses the point. For several years I had 64kbit broadband. Why would I call something only marginally faster than 56K "broadband"? Because of entirely different mode of access - the "always-on" connection. It changes the way you think about Internet, it is no longer something you do once a day to read e-mail and chat on AIM - it is now something you do when you need something from Internet. You no longer need to connect to the Net, you are connected all the time. This is also useful for family access, when there is more than one Internet user.

    Right now I have 256kbit connection which is also much cheaper (60$/mon and unlimited traffic, unlike the old one). I like the ability to play UT2004, use P2P and download videos, demos, flash, etc., but this isn't the best part of broadband. The best part is being able to instantly look up everything you need on a miriad of sites as much in-depth as you need.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.