A dial-up Internet connection is an Internet connection achieved using a conventional phone line. With dial-up, a computer is hooked up to a phone cable and, using a device called a modem, calls--or dials up--the number of an Internet service provider, through which it sends and receives information. Dial-up is used less frequently than broadband to access the Internet in the U.S.
The chief disadvantage of dial-up Internet, as compared with broadband Internet, is its slowness. Most modems that use dial-up Internet can download or upload information at a maximum speed of 56 kilobytes per second, with many models performing even more slowly than that. Broadband Internet, by contrast, can receive information at hundreds of times this speed. This means that it takes longer for dial-up users to visit web pages, sends e-mails and perform other Internet-related business.
Although slower, dial-up Internet is often significantly cheaper than broadband. While dial-up Internet users can expect to pay between £3 and £6 per month, broadband Internet users usually pay at least £13 per month or more, depending on the service.
One of the advantages of dial-up is that users only need access to an active land-based phone line to use it. This means that dial-up Internet is available in almost all parts of the country. By contrast, broadband Internet is available only in those areas that are set up to receive special it, often via cable lines.
One of the chief advantages of dial-up Internet is the wide choice of companies that offer dial-up service. Because all that is needed to use dial-up is a land-based line, consumers can pick between dozens of Internet service providers. However, some of these may require the consumer to call long distance, and if the consumer's phone bill is structured so that long-distance calls are more expensive, this can become costly. By contrast, generally only a limited number of companies offer broadband service in each geographical region, leaving consumers a much narrower band of options.