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Differences Between Dial Up and High Speed Internet Connections

If you’ve never had the internet in your home before, much less used it, you might wonder what the differences between dial up and high speed internet are. Especially if you’re shopping for internet for your home or office, and the first thing that sticks out to you is the massive difference in price.

What I wanted to show you now are the differences between the two technologies, as well as the pros and cons, so that you can better determine which kind of internet you should buy.

Dial Up vs. High Speed Internet

Speed Differences Between Dial Up and High Speed Internet

The most noticeable difference between the two types of internet connections will be the speed.

With dial up the maximum speed is 56 kbps, although only 53 kbps is achievable and much less is the norm, like 40 kbps. There isn’t much dial up users can do to speed their connection up, either. You can try a “booster,” but it wouldn’t actually make your internet faster. Instead, it caches your pages, so that instead of requesting an entirely new page of a website you frequently visit, it brings up the older cached (stored) version.

On the other end of the spectrum you have high speed internet. Just the name makes it sound faster, doesn’t it?

High speed internet’s speeds will vary from one technology to the next, but even starting at the lower end with DSL you’ll find that speeds are twice as fast. Usually around 768k to 1.5 Mbps, with speeds as high as 7 Mbps totally reachable. Basic cable internet connections run between 4 and 8 Mbps, with higher priced plans running speeds of 10 to 105 Mbps.

To put this into perspective, say you wanted to download a 2 hour movie with a file size of 700 MB. With a 56 kbps connection it’d take you 213 hours, or nearly 9 days, to download the movie. However, between inconsistent connections and cutoffs (or caps) on hours spent downloading stuff, you would never manage to get the movie downloaded.

High speed internet, on the other hand, would take you about 35 minutes with a speed of 20 Mbps (moderately fast cable internet). DSL might take you a couple hours, and even then the connection would be much better and more consistent.

The Price Differences Between Dial Up and High Speed Internet

While speed is the most noticeable difference once you buy the internet, the biggest difference while shopping for internet will be the price.

Dial up can be purchased for $5 to $15. There are ISPs that charge as much as $25 for their dial up service, but that’s more the exception than the norm. And it’s way too high.

DSL (high speed (broadband) internet) can be purchased for $15 to $25 on average, and cable will set you back $20 to $200+. Mobile internet will be about $30 and higher.

The factor that influences price the most is the speed. That said, convenience, location, connection type and data (when/if applicable) will also play a role.

Difference in Using Dial Up Internet vs. High Speed Internet

There are night and day differences in how you can use dial up vs. high speed internet.

Starting with dial up, it can several minutes to load your email or web pages. Downloading files will take you 10 to 15 minutes at the very least, and as long as several hours, assuming you’re internet doesn’t quit in the process, forcing you to restart the download. You won’t be able to watch videos (You Tube) on dial up, nor will you be able to talk on your phone simultaneously.

High speed internet is quite the opposite. Although lower speed plans are the best for streaming videos or music, it’s still possible. And the higher up you go in speed/quality, the more things you’ll be able to do (videos, music, gaming, misc email, Facebook, browsing, etc).

Reliability Differences Between Dial Up and High Speed Connections

Dial up is very slow (as you may have noticed by now), but it can be made worse when others logon using the same service. Dial up is also known for cutting out or the internet quitting intermittently, which is made worse by things like volume of users and weather.

High speed internet is much better at consistency/reliability, although it does have it’s problems. DSL is ok when you’re located near your internet service provider, however, the farther away you get the poorer the connection is, both in speed and uptime. And with cable the speed can decrease if others are using the internet at the same as you. Overall though, you’ll find that DSL and cable internet connections are much more reliable compared to dial up.

Best Uses for Each Type of Internet Connection

Although on the surface it probably looks like I’m talking trash about dial up, I’m really not. I won’t ever use it again, but that’s because I’m on the internet all day, 6 days a week. Watching paint dry would be a more exciting task than using dial up internet.

However, dial up does have it’s place, and depending on how you plan to use the internet it might be the solution for you. Here are my thoughts:

  • Dial up is going to be better for people who hardly use the internet. I would say no more than a few times per week, and maybe 10 minutes per day (on average) max. Just enough time to check your email and maybe Facebook.
  • High speed internet will be better if you use the internet regularly. If you use the internet daily (for more than 15-20 minutes) you’ll be much happier with a high speed connection, even if you go with the lower speed (DSL) connections. And in most cases you’ll spend about the same amount of money on DSL as you will a dialup connection.