What’s the Best Dial-Up Internet Provider?
Even though high-speed internet has been a popular choice for many years, dial-up service is still available in quite a few areas. The top dial-up internet service providers (ISPs) aren’t as recognizable as providers like AT&T and Verizon, who have discontinued their dial-up offerings, but we’re here to get you up to speed on dial-up internet options that might be the right fit for your needs.
The big players
Juno may be one of the more recognizable names to make the list of best dial-up internet service providers. The primary differentiator when it comes to Juno is that their dial-up services are free. They offer up to 10 hours of dial-up connection, free of charge, most likely as a teaser to attract users to their other, speedier, offerings.
If you’re willing to pay a monthly fee for dial-up internet, Juno offers a plan called Juno Turbo Accelerated Dial-Up, which speeds up how quickly certain graphics and text load on websites.
NetZero has an offering similar to Juno, providing users with free dial-up internet for as many as 10 hours a month. During your 10 hours of browsing you get unlimited internet access and NetZero claims you can experience speeds as much as five times faster than normal dial-up with their NetZero HiSpeed accelerated service.
NetZero also throws in web-based email that includes spam and virus protection that you can check whether you’ve connected to their dial-up service or not.
Dialup 4 Less
Dialup 4 Less differs from NetZero and Juno in a few key ways. First, they don’t have any free plans. Second, their limited plan, which costs $7.95/month, comes with a 25-hour limit instead of a 10-hour one. The other option, a $12.95/month plan is unlimited.
Dialup 4 Less also provides subscribers with their Backup Dial-Up Internet Plan, which is designed to be a failover system. This means it comes on if your primary service cuts out, keeping you connected.
BasicISP follows a business model similar to Dialup 4 Less and offers a paid option that costs $8.95/month. This package comes with unlimited internet service as well as email. BasicISP markets their services to people who travel frequently and may need internet at several different locations, providing users with several access numbers they can use to connect.
When considering using a dial-up connection, you have to evaluate your needs. Are slower speeds not a deal-breaker for you or other users in your household? Are you looking for an inexpensive way to connect to the internet? Will latency be a concern?
It’s important to remember that despite the low—potentially free—cost of dial-up, the speeds you experience will be significantly slower than what you get with DSL, cable or fiber internet connections. In most cases, dial-up may be slower than a public Wi-Fi signal with several users accessing it at the same time. With this in mind, you may want to limit your dial-up usage to activities that require very little bandwidth, such as:
- Checking and sending email
- Playing very simple video games
- Blogging or other types of online text editing
Potential cost savings
For individuals that use home internet for checking email and other relatively low-bandwidth activities, opting for a dial-up connection can be a great way to save on monthly expenditures. You can use the money you save to pay off bills, invest, or leave a little more discretionary income in your pocket each month.
Depending on where you live and the options available in your area, a high-speed internet connection can easily cost around $100/month. Saving $90 or more a month can significantly improve your financial position, make it easier to buy new things or save up for a well-deserved vacation.
Latency refers to the time between when you make a request on the internet and you see a result in your browser. Using a dial-up connection virtually guarantees that you will experience latency issues from time-to-time. This is because a dial-up connection takes a long time to both upload your request to the server you’re trying to access and return the data the server sends in reply.
The best way to avoid latency being a problem with a dial-up connection is to only engage in online activity when the time between when you click and when you get a response doesn’t limit your productivity or enjoyment. For example, in most cases the speed at which an email gets sent doesn’t really make a big difference, so you can easily get your emailing done with dial-up speeds.
What others are saying
Because dial-up is relatively rare nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find recent reviews of dial-up providers—even the big players listed above—on trusted review sites. Since people tend to use the internet for activities that require more bandwidth than dial-up can provide, such as watching high-definition videos or playing games online, the popularity of dial-up has declined significantly.
For example, back in 2013 only three percent of American adults were still using dial-up. As the need for internet speed grew, that number dropped to 1.9% in 2019. As dial-up’s popularity fell, it also faded from prominence in the eyes of many online reviewers.
Dial-up internet FAQs
How fast is dial-up internet?
Dial-up internet speed maxes out at 56Kbps, which is about 1% of the speed delivered by a 5Mbps connection.
Who is dial-up internet good for?
Dial-up internet is good for people who don’t stream high-definition content, play video games, or frequent social media sites. It can work well for those who use it to check email or play very low-fidelity internet games.
How much does dial-up internet cost?
Dial-up internet typically ranges in price from $0 to $12.95/month.
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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 2/28/22.
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