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Shopping for an internet service provider? There’s definitely no shortage of options out there. From ultra high-speed fiber optics to dial-up internet, internet service options can vary widely by performance and price. If you’re considering a new service, here’s what you need to know before you decide on dial-up internet.

What is dial-up internet?

Dial-up is the earliest form of internet access. First offered as a consumer service in 1989, a dial-up internet connection offers enough speed for emailing, light web browsing, and other activities that aren’t data-intensive.

How does dial-up internet work?

Unlike broadband internet options like cable and fiber, a dial-up internet connection uses the existing telephone infrastructure to send and receive digital information.

The process is pretty simple. When you launch your browser, a small device called a modem dials a telephone number to establish an internet connection. The modem then works as a sort of translator between your computer and the internet network, translating your data into an analog audio frequency that can travel along phone lines. When the requested data is returned, the modem translates it back into digital information so your computer can process it.

Is dial-up right for me?

What is dial-up internet? It’s a type of internet service that paved the way for other technologies to follow. The choice between dial-up and broadband internet comes down to your needs, your budget, and what service options are available in your area — as well as what your internet usage typically consists of.

Dial-up internet is one of the most affordable types of internet access; some providers even offer it for free. It may be a good choice for those with a modest internet budget. It may also be a valid option for customers who live in rural areas, where other forms of internet service aren’t available. If you don’t use the internet often or if your usage consists of reading the occasional news story or sending a text-only email, dial-up may suit your needs.

But there’s a reason other forms of internet are more popular today. For one, dial-up internet service isn’t very efficient. It can take a long time for dial-up customers to “dial in” to establish a connection. Once you do get online, web pages — especially media-rich pages that include photos, songs, or videos — will load slowly. Dial-up speeds also can’t accommodate more demanding activities like video streaming or online gaming. Be sure to do your research and consider all your options before you settle on a service.

Sources

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0193167.html

https://www.fcc.gov/general/types-broadband-connections

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/M/modem.html

http://www.explainthatstuff.com/howbroadbandworks.html