Millions of Customers Still Use Dial-up, AOL Report Indicates

According to newly released data, AOL still has 3.5 million people who sign up to the internet using painfully slow dial up, with 200,000 new people registering last year alone.

Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a dialed connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) via telephone lines.

According to AOL’s earnings release, the “average paid tenure” of its subscribers was about 10.6 years in their third quarter reports, up from about 9.4 years last year.

AOL lost about 630,000 subscribers in the third quarter alone. This time in 2006 and 2007, AOL was losing 5 million customers a year.

One reason for the number of users still using dial-up service can be there are still large parts of the U.S. without broadband-mostly rural areas. While 63 percent of Americans had an Internet connection in 2009, that figure was only 46 percent in rural areas, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Also, America still falls behind much of the developed world when it comes to broadband penetration. In measurements made between January and June 2011, the United States ranked 26th globally in terms of the speed of its broadband Internet connections.

Dial-up connections to the Internet require no infrastructure other than a telephone network. Where telephone access is widely available, dial-up remains useful.

According to Dan Frommer, of, another reason for the number of dial-up users could be that many AOL subscribers don't realize they're still paying for the service. Over the past decade, monthly AOL bills haven’t changed that much, on average: From about $18 in 2001 to about $17.50 now.

Broadband Internet access (cable and DSL) has been replacing dial-up access in many parts of the world. Broadband connections typically offer speeds 700 kbit/s or higher for approximately the same price as dial-up from some providers.