THE BLOG
04/10/2013 09:10 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Is This Really the End of Dial-up, and Will We Miss It?

Dial-up internet is dead - that screechy, slow-moving stalwart of the '90s is no more. Or at least that's the impression you'd get from the headlines over the last few weeks.

Actually, dial-up internet is still very much alive and kicking in the UK, despite the news that BT has closed its dial-up internet service. In fact, one of the remaining providers, Plusnet, is actually owned by BT itself and it's even a cheaper service.

The reason dial-up is getting so much attention is that the vast majority of us who write about the Internet online probably started off in the days of dial-up modems. It is frightening to think I was using dial-up from home in late 1994, let along using email on an academic network in Kingston Polytechnic back in 1987.

Nostalgia can have a surprisingly large effect on us, and I still recall the joy of waiting for the screeching modem to negotiate its connection speed, and how more speed was slowly squeezed out of modems over the years until we reached the dizzy heights of 49 kilobits per second.

Of course in our nostalgic haze, we have also forgotten those Sunday nights when it was almost impossible to get connected to a modem at the provider. Even worse was downloading a massive five MB zip file and having the connection drop just before the end, making you cross your fingers and start all over again

The telephone companies must have loved dial-up in its prime, as people were spending £50 to £80 a month to stay online. This was in the days before inclusive call bundles or per-second billing, and it was the norm to pay per minute, eventually leading to a campaign for unmetered connections.

When broadband finally made the scene in the UK, I was probably among the first few thousand people to be up and running in April 2000. This was through a 2 Mbps connection via Demon, which is what passed as a business grade connection in those days.

When the consumer product appeared in summer of that year, it ran at just half a Meg and cost around £50 a month, with a hefty £150 installation visit fee to get it all plugged in. Today's ultra-fast, low cost broadband services almost look like science fiction by comparison, and it's hard to believe it has been just 13 years.

It's almost time for superfast broadband to debut in my neck of the woods, and I was excited to see the cabinet appear a few weeks ago. I'm sure I'll be ordering it on the day fibre is blown to the cabinet and the exchange is enabled.

I'm expecting around 24 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds from the new connection. A significant improvement over my current download speed of 7.2 Mbps and upload speed of just 0.9 Mbps (as demonstrated by thinkbroadband's own trusty speed tester here).

To get back to dial-up, there are of course a few places left in the UK that cannot get access to fixed line broadband, so it's understandable if they're a bit nervous about talk of service closures. That said, the broadband rollout is continuing, even if the speed of its progress is up for debate.

With solid internet connections so vital for businesses these days, I doubt any companies are still making do with dial-up. Businesses stuck in 'not-spot' broadband areas can always go for an entry level two-way satellite-based service at around £25 a month. Well worth it considering how long it would take to even load this article, let alone get any work done!