NBN to roll out 100mbps – so why are 16 per cent of Australians still on dialup?

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Online, Technology

fibre optic
Image by Twilight Jones via Flickr

Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released their Internet Activity Survey for the December quarter of 2008.

According to the ABS release, their highlight was that wireless broadband subscription across Australia has tripled in just one year, from 481,000 in December 07 to 1.46 million in December 08, which is great.

Looking into the numbers, that massive jump in wireless broadband takeup represents 979,000 new subscribers, more than the entire country’s overall growth of 891,000 internet subscribers in the 12 month period (7.1 to 7.99 million). If the numbers don’t seem to add up it’s because 576,000 subscribers finally ditched their dialup connections. But dialup’s decline actually slowed compared to the previous 12 month period, to December 2007, when 862,000 subscribers left their dialup provider. That drop took dialup connections from 2.75 to 1.88 million, compared to the current period to December 08, where dialup subscribers dropped to just 1.31 million.

What I found unbelievable was to be reminded, in the week that the government rejected all bids for the National Broadband Network (NBN) to go it alone on the internet superhighway to heaven, is that so many Australians are still on dialup. Of the almost 8 million (7.996m) internet subscribers in Australia as at 31 December, 2008, 1.3 million of those are still on a dialup connection. That’s 16% of the country. If dialup is still the price gouge I remember it being 13 years ago, that’s a large proportion of the Australian online community who are overpaying for a vastly inferior product.

Apart from the people don’t have a choice, for reasons like rural or remote areas, I’d be very interested to see some breakdown on who still subscribes to dialup and why. Is there anyone who chooses dialup? Despite having highspeed broadband as a matter of course, I know one person who had to convince his parents recently it wasn’t worth holding on to their dialup subscription “just in case” old contacts still had the email address that was tied to it.

Do you know anyone still on dialup, and do you think they have a good reason to be? Apart from absolute necessity, I don’t see how it could be justified, and part of the NBN rollout should be reducing that 16 per cent significantly.

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