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An account for connecting to the Internet using your phone line and a dial-up modem.
With a dial-up account, you have a login name and a password that lets you access some parts of a computer system. A dial-up account through an Internet service provider allows you to use your modem to make a connection to your provider’s system. Once you have dialed your provider’s local number and are connected, the provider then connects you directly to the Internet, where you can run any Internet navigation software (like a web browser), just as you would if you had a direct connection to the Internet.
Different types of dial-up accounts are available. A SLIP or PPP account allows you to navigate the World Wide Web directly from your Windows or Macintosh operating system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does anyone still use a dial-up connection?
While far less popular than they once were, there is still a substantial percentage of the world that utilizes dial-up accounts to access the Internet. For many, broadband connections are unavailable, particularly in rural locations and third-world countries, where the infrastructure required to provide broadband services at a reasonable price simply doesn’t exist. For others, broadband may be too expensive. Many cable companies now offer low-price, starter plans, but these are still usually more expensive than dial-up packages, which are often available for under $10 a month. Dial-up is particularly appealing to occasional Internet users who don’t require fast download speeds.
Do I have to pay phone charges when using dial-up?
In the early days of the Internet, some people had a hard time finding a local dial-up service, and families racked up enormous long-distance bills surfing the Net. Thankfully, most dial-up providers now offer toll-free numbers, so regardless of where you are located, you won’t end up paying long-distance fees. All you need is a working landline telephone connection.
How does dial-up compare to broadband?
Dial-up is much slower than even the lowest-speed broadband connections. Most dial-up ISPs provide upload and download speeds of up to 56 Kbps; whereas, low-end cable speeds start around 2 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads. That means you can download information over 35 times faster using a cable Internet connection. Broadband also provides an always-on connection that does not tie up your telephone line, while dial-up accounts require you to use your existing phone line to connect to the Internet.
I can’t afford broadband. How can I get faster Internet?
Contact your local telephone and cable providers and see if they offer any low-cost broadband plans. If not, you may want to look at your current phone and Internet plans together. While broadband Internet service is more expensive than dial-up, many people are actually able to save money by switching to broadband Internet and a VoIP phone service. VoIP phone services, which use your high-speed Internet connection to make and receive phone calls, are often much less expensive than traditional landline services, particularly if you make long-distance calls. The savings may make broadband and VoIP less expensive than a landline phone and dial-up.