Late last week, Telstra announced it would be retiring all remaining dial-up modem services in Australia by the end of the year.
Between 15-20 years ago the annoyingly familiar dial-up startup tone invaded most Australia households on a daily basis. However, thanks to advances in technology, most of us now enjoy uninterrupted, high-speed internet access at home and on our mobiles.
But according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 150,000 Australians — typically in remote areas — still have dial-up connections to access the internet.
Despite these statistics, a Telstra spokesperson told Business Insider there are only “a few hundred” remaining dial-up users remaining on its network.
“These outstanding dial-up accounts are a mix of other providers and unused and uncharged accounts,” he said.
Speaking to Bill Birtles on AM over the weekend, George Fong, who co-founded NetConnect Communications, one of the first Regional Internet Service Providers in Australia, said patchy broadband connections may explain why dial-up has persisted.
“I think that in regional and rural areas there’s very much a case of people (who) will hang onto technologies that are trusted and reliable for as long as they can before they move to anything else, unless it is proven that they work reliably,” he said.
“So in the transition between dial-up and ADSL we did find that there was a little bit of resistance from moving from what they knew to something that was different.”
In a blog post on the Telstra Exchange last week, fixed broadband and bundles director Stuart Bird said dial-up internet is no longer able to support most basic online activity.
“When you think about it, using any photo rich website or video streaming service would be almost impossible on a dial-up service,” he said.
“For instance, even at peak dial-up speeds, it would take at least six hours to download a 150MB video.
“In contrast, at typical speeds over ADSL2+ it would take around two minutes and on Telstra’s 4GX mobile network it would take as little as 30 seconds.”
All Telstra dial-up services will be eliminated by December but Bird said the telco will offer customers alternative means of internet access to assist with the transition.
It is not yet known whether all other networks will follow suit and cancel dial-up services as well. iiNet said it will continue to offer dial-up connections to customers.
And in case you’d forgotten what it sounded like, here’s a brief reminder.