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How do I Choose the Best Dial-Up ISP?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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In areas where faster services like cable and DSL Internet connections are not available, consumers who want to browse the World Wide Web must rely on dial-up ISP services. While this type of internet service provider does not deliver the speed of the other options and is not conducive to downloading videos or listening to audio streams, a good dial-up ISP can make it easy to send and receive email, participate in forums and online chats, and browse different web sites. The trick is to know what to look for in dial-up services and choose the one that is right for your needs.

With a dial-up ISP, the maximum connection speed that you can hope for with a single connection is 56 kilobits per second. For people who have access to a second phone line, one thing to look for in a dial-up service is the ability to make two connections to the provider simultaneously. There are some dial-up providers that will allow users to make two simultaneous connections, effectively allowing the receiving system to make use of both of those connections to increase the overall efficiency and speed. Assuming that you do have two phone lines, and two dial-up modems connected to your system, a provider who allows you to have more than one connection at a time would make it possible to enjoy a dial-up speed of up to 128Kbps.

Along with multiple connections, consider going with a dial-up ISP that does not require the use of proprietary dialing software. Many desktops and laptops are equipped with dialers that function very well, eliminating the need to download another dialer that essentially takes up additional resources. If your system is an older one with limited resources, this may be especially important.

Going with a name brand is not necessarily the best option with a dial-up ISP. While many of these are reliable in terms of service, there are still those that charge the same monthly rates as a decade ago. Take some time to research lesser-known providers, including ratings by consumer advocate groups. There is a good chance that you can find a provider with an excellent track record, but that charges significantly less than some of the more familiar name brands.

Before making a commitment to any one dial-up ISP, find out if there are any discounts off the standard price that you may qualify to receive. For example, some providers offer anywhere from a ten to twenty percent discount if you pay for one year of service in advance. This may further reduce your cost, while still making it possible to enjoy the best dial-up ISP service available in your area.

Keep in mind that with any service, there are factors outside the control of the dial-up ISP provider that will impact the speed of your connection. The quality of the actual connection via your telephone service provider will make a difference on the stability of the ISP connection. In addition, the quality of the dial-up modem being used will also have some impact. Even something as simple as the distance from your residence to the source of your telephone service, such as the telephone pole across the street, can make a significant difference in both the speed and the stability of your connection, regardless of which provider you choose to use.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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