Three million people are still paying for AOL dial-up

Tori Floyd

There are plenty of sad stories in the tech world these days: RIM continuing to struggle along, sagging iPhone sales ahead of the new release, declining numbers of subscribers to AOL's dial-up service…

Wait, what?

Apparently, there are still three million people in the U.S. who continue to pay for AOL's dial-up Internet service. As if that wasn't mind-boggling enough, those three million also generate about one-third of the company's revenue, according to SplatF. They also report that the subscriber losses for the company were less than half of what they were a year ago.

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Ten years ago, AOL was at the height of its glory with 25 million subscribers in the U.S., and while the numbers have dropped dramatically over the years, they seem so have plateaued somewhat in the last two:

Now before you start thinking that Canadians are so much more advanced and all get on the web through broadband or better, consider this: a report in May showed that an estimated 250,000 Canadians were still using dial-up Internet service at the end of 2011.

For Canadians and Americans alike, the reasons for sticking with dial-up are quite similar. Residents in rural communities often don't have access to higher speed Internet service and are forced to either opt for dial-up, or no Internet at all. In 2010, The Canadian Press reports, the CRTC estimated five per cent of Canadians had no access to high-speed Internet service.

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Earlier this month, Northwestel and its parent company Bell applied to upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure in northern Canada, including being able to offer high-speed Internet in 79 smaller communities. If the deal goes through, many of Canada's northern residents could be saved from the world of dial-up that at least three million Americans still know all too well.