Dial-up Internet access subscriber numbers are declining rapidly, but the service is not set to become obsolete anytime soon. Dial-up will most likely become a premium service where there is very low demand, but where Telkom will continue to support this service.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck explains that dial-up probably still has about 3 years left as a viable offering to consumers.
“Eventually, it is likely to become a premium service, for which you will pay more than for broadband. The reason is simple economics: if there is too little demand, it will not be viable to maintain the infrastructure needed to support the service, unless users pay a premium that makes it viable to the provider,” said Goldstuck.
Goldstuck highlighted that there are many people who still only dial in once a day to upload and download a small amount of e-mail, and they are quite happy to carry on doing things the way they always did.
A 2010 World Wide Worx study showed that dial-up subscriptions peaked at 1,088,000 in 2004, and declined to 400,000 in 2010. It is estimated that there are currently still around 200,000 dial-up users in South Africa.
Current dial-up prices
To access the Internet using dial-up a user must have a Telkom line (priced at R148.37 per month) and a dial-up account from an ISP. Users are then billed per minute (at local call rates) for the time they spent online.
Here are some Internet Service Providers which are still offering 56kbps dial-up access:
- MWEB – R145 per month
- Telkom – R79 per month
- Snowball – R70 per month
- DiaMatrix – R60 per month
- Cybersmart – R59 per month
- Imaginet – R49 per month
Considering that dial-up users only have speeds of up to 56kbps and still have to pay high per-minute rate for Internet access, there are many better, cheaper alternatives available to most dial-up subscribers.
Goldstuck highlighted that there are broadband packages that cost half the price of a dial-up account and will provide far better speeds and value for money.
“It becomes a matter of educating, persuading and, finally, cajoling the bitter-einders,” said Goldstuck.