Surveys last fall indicated that Internet access is one of the last things North Americans are prepared to give up in the face of hard economic times. But recent studies show that many users still on dial-up connections are content to stay there for now, for the sake of their budgets, rather than upgrading to broadband.

Entry-level broadband services generally start at around (US)$20 per month but dial-up access can be had in many areas for under (US)$10.


A study late last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project revealed that only nine per cent of U.S. Internet users are still on dial-up service. And industry figures show that the dial-up market is still declining, though more slowly than it did when affordable cable and DSL highspeed services first became available. While major broadband providers have declared dial-up dead, major national providers including Earthlink, AOL and NetZero still consider dial-up Internet a viable business.

Many of those still on dial-up live in rural areas where affordable broadband connections are not available and, so, do not have a choice. But others are simply looking at their monthly bills and asking, “Do I really need highspeed?” And some highspeed users are downgrading their service subscriptions to options with lower speeds and lower monthly data transfer caps.

Of those dial-up users polled for the Pew survey, 35 per cent said highspeed is just too expensive. And a further 19 per cent said nothing would persuade them to upgrade.

While the Pew survey did not address the issue, other surveys have revealed that many dial-up users who choose not to upgrade are not intensive users, using their connections mainly for e-mail, chat and other low-bandwidth communications.

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