uSwitch has predicted that dial-up (narrowband) Internet users will account for only 4% of all residential Internet connections by 2010. The survey also found that nine million broadband customers rank the quality and speed of their broadband connection as more important than its value for money.
Sadly the UK continues to lag behind our European neighbours when it comes to speed. French consumers receive average speeds of 17.6Mbps compared to the UK average of 3.6Mbps.
British consumers have whole-heartedly embraced the internet, spending 34 days a year online longer than they spend eating and drinking (21 days), personal grooming (11 days) and socialising (22 days).
With the increased popularity of social networking sites and consumers downloading films, television shows and music, the internet is now designed to make the most of the faster broadband connection speeds.
This has led to a broadband boom with two million new users signing up in the last year alone, securing broadband as a life essential for almost 15 million UK homes. Its popularity is predicted to continue to grow to 16.4 million connections in 2008, projected to stand at almost 20 million connections in 2010.
However the uSwitch piece admits that it fails to understand why dialup is still used by several million people and then goes on to praise Orange for recently forcing its dialup users out in to the cold!:
Steve Weller, Head of Communications Services at uSwitch.com comments: "The last breath of dial-up lays in the hands of the internet service providers themselves as there will always be a handful of people who do not want to switch to broadband. Orange dial-up customers recently saw their services switched off and have either moved to another company or taken up broadband.
As this is more cost effective for both the provider and the consumer, we hope it won't be too long before other companies follow suit. We could then see the demise of dial-up brought even closer than 2010 as these connections are shut down and the decision is taken away from the last reluctant customers."
Clearly Weller has managed to completely miss several reasons why dialup remains so well used despite the obvious benefits of broadband. Certainly it doesn’t have to be more expensive, Weller uses the comparison of commercial unmetered dialup connections while ignoring direct access local call rate (0845) dialup altogether.
Those that merely check their e-mail or the odd website once every now and then have little need for a broadband connection when 0845 dialup fits the bill and can cost less than £1 per month in calls. Similarly some areas remain uncovered by broadband and only have the ability to access dialup.
Dialup also has other advantages, such as the ability to plug it into any phone line; it’s not stuck to a specific location like DSL or cable broadband connections.
On top of this, broadband can fail but dialup will almost always work as a backup. So long as BT’s current infrastructure allows dialup to function then it will continue to exist, albeit at an ultimately statistically irrelevant level.
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