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Dialup: alive and kicking

The Office of National Statistics suggests that 13 out of 20 internet users in this country have broadband. Impressive. But this does mean that 35 percent of users in the UK still use dialup.

This column appears as Byteback in the May 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now.

That's an awful lot of people. Our recent survey into ISPs (see May 06 issue) reached a similar conclusion. Why is this?

I can't imagine struggling on with a 56K modem, especially now that many sites are designed with the assumption that most users have at least a half-a-meg connection. It seems so long ago that I ditched dialup, I can barely remember what it was like – and the memories aren't good ones. As a character on Channel 4's recent comedy series The IT Crowd put it, you were up all night and only got to see eight women.

Though I have only ever used the internet for wholesome purposes – and I challenge anyone to prove that I haven't – you get the point. Opening images took yonks, and downloading MP3s or video was excruciating.

So how can people persist with it? I'm guessing some of them don't have any choice, as there are remote rural areas where broadband is yet to be enabled, and that's the government's fault. But there are some people stubbornly refusing to make the leap. Perhaps they don't mind the interminable waiting; or maybe they use the internet only for email and checking the weather.

Broadband is virtually being given away at the moment. The multitude of providers out there are currently engaged in a ridiculous price and speed war that is bound to result in numerous casualties.

Admittedly, the bigger ISPs are likely to eat up their smaller competitors. But in the meantime, to make sure the small companies stay small, the big boys have to play them at their own game. No one can get away with charging too much at the moment. This means now is the perfect time to pick up a bargain broadband deal.

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