Dial Up Internet Providers
I know, I know . . . dial-up is not really a hot topic for Internet service any longer. Actually, there are only two reasons left for using dial up:
1) when there is just no broadband available
2) when consumers want to save money
However, that second reason isn't as valid as it used to be since the price of entry-level broadband plans has come down.
In recent years, many DSL and cable providers began offering basic broadband plans that cost between $14.95 to $24.95 per month. This is actually comparable to the cost of most 56K Internet providers, and it is actually cheaper than many of the premium dial up services.
Also, since you can usually get a lower price when you bundle your broadband plan together with your phone or television service, it makes it that much more attractive to get basic DSL or cable, even it is the slowest plan they offer.
These economy broadband plans will range from 384 Kbps to 768Kbps.
So, if you are still using dial up Internet service because it's cheap, you should check into some of the low cost offers you can currently get with either DSL or Cable:
Although there are still hundreds of local providers, this is a short list of only the top providers with some form of accelerated Internet access.
NetZero Internet - Having merged with Juno in 2001, NetZero is one of the best choices for cheap dialup service in the United States. They have basic unlimited for $9.95 per month or accelerated called NetZero HiSpeed available for $14.95 per month. NetZero has begun offering broadband DSL in certain areas of the U.S. with download speeds up to 100X the speed of dialup.
AOL Internet - In the past few years, AOL was acquired then spun off again in 2009. AOL has various plans to choose from, from premium dial-up to low-cost basic plans. Many long-time AOL users don't want to give up the service if they switch to broadband, but AOL does have plans that allow you to keep and use your favorite AOL features with your broadband connection. As of 2012, AOL remains the largest dial up Internet provider in the United States.
MSN Internet - Another popular portal for surfers of the Web, MSN provides two basic services. First is their MSN Dial Up service with an accelerator, and second is MSN Premium, which allows you to use all of your favorite features from MSN with a broadband connection. Although they do not provide broadband directly, MSN has partnered with many broadband providers. This way, you can combine your broadband service and your MSN Premium on one bill.
EarthLink Internet - Besides offering basic Internet service plans, EarthLink is also able to offer a complete selection of broadband plans, including DSL, cable, and satellite. EarthLink dial up service is an accelerated connection that lets you surf the Web up to 7X faster than standard service.
How Fast Is Dial Up Internet?
The maximum speed of a dialup connection is 56 Kbps. The truth is that this speed is actually limited to around 53 Kbps due to FCC regulations having to do with line noise, but since the speeds listed for most modems is 56 Kbps, most people just say "56k" for simplicity.
Since these types of connections rely upon copper phone lines (the same lines used for standard phone service), their speed will always be limited by the bandwidth of those phone lines. Most studies of dial up download speeds point to about 48 Kbps as the actual maximum download speed you can expect from a dial up connection. If you want to go faster than this, you'll need to sign up for some form of broadband.
It is possible to use certain types of download accelerator technologies to make your downloads function more efficiently, but the speeds will never truly exceed 48 kilobytes per second (Kbps). What these services actually do is to compress, cache, and filter data so that certain types of downloads (mainly HTML & graphics) take much less time.
Is Dial Up Internet Service Your Only Option?
As of early 2012, around 10% of Americans are still using it. If you live in a rural portion of the U.S., you do have two options for high speed Internet:
The first is 3G or 4G wireless Internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon or Sprint.
The reach of wireless networks is nearly nationwide and has speeds several times faster than 56Kp. The main downside is that you will be limited to only 5 to 10 GB in bandwidth per month, which means that wireless is only a good choice if you occasionally browse the Web and check email. It is not for heavy use.
The second alternative is using is satellite Internet providers. This is going to be a costly option with many inherent problems, but if you live far away from any population centers, then it may be your only choice for broadband in your home.