Is this the beginning of the end for dial-up?

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Telstra has recently announced the planned retirement of its dial-up internet services, which will take effect by December 2015.

This announcement should not be a surprise. The most recent ABS statistics show the number of users accessing the internet via dial-up continues to decrease (now making up just one per cent of users subscribed to the internet). A big reason for this is that users demand faster internet speeds and larger volumes of data than a dial-up connection can provide, and there are many internet services and technologies that can meet that demand.

But the changing use of the internet and advancement of technology are not only impacting fixed internet connection technology. Last year, Telstra announced that it will be closing the 2G mobile network by the end of 2016. Optus’s parent company, Singtel, has also recently announced that it plans to cease 2G services in Singapore from 1 April 2017. Besides Telstra, the other major mobile telcos have not yet made any announcements on the future of 2G in Australia.

While the currently available mobile technologies include 2G, 3G and 4G, there are also international discussions to develop 5G and have it commercially available by 2020. Part of this move is driven by the growing demands of the Internet of Things; everyday devices and equipment are becoming more wirelessly connected and will require greater exchange of data.

However, it is important that retirement of any redundant technology does not create a new digital divide or cause a major disruption for those businesses that currently rely on that technology to access the internet. In the case of the dial-up connections, Telstra states that it plans to contact any user that may be affected and offer alternative means to access the internet as part of the transition.

With Telstra’s plan to retire its dial-up services announced, it may be only a matter of time before other ISPs who still offer dial-up services follow suit.

The long-term solution is not migrating dial-up customers to the next rung on the bandwidth ladder, but providing users with access to the much faster National Broadband Network (NBN). The challenge is rolling this out more quickly, particularly to poorly served areas where dial-up is the only option.

Does your business still use dial-up connection as the means to connect to the internet? Have you considered changing to another type of internet connection? Share your experiences and thoughts below.

And are you making the most of the opportunities that digital technologies can provide to your business today? See our Digital Business Kit for free advice.

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Charles Hoang
Charles is Adviser - Public Policy at Ai Group, concentrating principally on policy relating to technology and digital issues. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including energy, broadcasting and telecommunications. Previously, he advised on energy policy for the Australian Energy Market Commission, and was Assistant Director of Engineering for Free TV Australia.

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