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Ding dong, dial-up is (finally) gone

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Broadband can finally declare victory over dial-up in the U.S. AT&T and Comcast are #1 and #2 when it comes to how Americans connect to the Internet. AOL dial-up, which for nearly a decade dominated the Internet landscape is dying a slow lingering death.

AT&T, as we pointed out earlier now has 12.9 million broadband subscribers, while Comcast has 12.1 million. AOL has 12 million — a sign of a change in strategy and shift away from access to an advertising-based destination model. (I wonder if this is going to have a negative impact on Level 3?)

The speed with which AOL’s access business has unraveled is quite amazing. At the end of December ’06, AOL, as reported by Time Warner, had 13.2 million U.S. dial-up subscribers, a decline of 2 million from the prior quarter. Five years ago, AT&T had a million subscribers, while AOL had 25 million.

Now as the dial-up access rides into the sunset, I am going wax poetic, and be sentimental.

I miss the days when I would walk to CompUSA, hoping to get the latest 56 Kbps modem by US Robotics, or to save up dollars to buy a 3Com PCMCIA card. And oh the rage…. of not being able get the Ricochet service.

More than anything, dial-up made going on the net a proactive act, unlike today when we live in a bit-bubble. The upside of dial-up, if you can call that an upside, was that the Internet Life didn’t feel so overwhelming. As an Internet user, the very act of dialing up put you in charge. People didn’t spend as much time on the net, and didn’t send so much email that Fred Wilson had to declare e-mail bankruptcy.

Ah the golden era of the Senior Slowskies — when email was on demand, instead of showing up every few seconds, becoming more annoying than an annoying mother-in-law. Or when IM meant I wanted to be messaged, and not instant migraine. The good old slow days, when Yahoo paid attention to the minimalism and crafted a lite-site. The golden days when YouTube viewing didn’t come between me and productivity.

Enough of being a Golden Oldie — I wonder what the Prom Queen is doing.

4 Responses to “Ding dong, dial-up is (finally) gone”

  1. Brian

    I wouldn’t say people spent any less time on the internet when they had dial-up. As soon as my family got internet service in the mid 90’s, that was all I did! I stopped watching TV. And also as a consequence, we suddenly stopped receiving any phone calls. Then we had to get a second line so I could go online all the time. Broadband just makes it an even more enjoyable waste of time… er… I mean, experience. :)

    I do find it amazing that AOL still has 12 million subscribers. Are all of those dial-up? I wonder what the age demographic looks like of people still using dial-up.

    I remember the first time I was talking to someone on the phone while I was online when I got broadband. They said “How are you doing that??!!” Ah yes, the innocent days of the internet.

  2. Uh, USPS “is” pretty much automated. The junk mail, which consumes most of its ergs, is encoded for magnetic and/or ocr reading.

    I can’t get any more sentimental about dial-up than I could about POTS. It all sucks!

  3. Sparky

    I think that it’s amazing that AOL still has 12 million subs even after they went free. That I would assume is just iceing on the cake for them.

  4. ronald

    my rule of thumb.
    If it ain’t a queuing system, it ain’t good.
    Mail (USPS) really slow but stacks up nicely. Disadvantage: Can’t be automated, have to look at every piece.
    Email: Perfect can be automated.
    TV (TIVO, PVR): TIVO can’t be categorized enough, my kid’s shows fill up root, makes it hard to find something on my 200G I will never watch. Who knows when NOVA is on on TV, but I know I got 20 in queue to choose from.
    Phone: Why can’t we get voice mail out of sequence without an iphone?

    IM: send me an email.

    In other words manage your own time and use technology to do so, not to disrupt you all the time. As Google has shown the world, computers are actually pretty good at prioritizing queues, i.e find important stuff and put it first in the queue.
    Remember the internet is just a series of pipes a’em queues, whatever :-)