Archive for Monday, June 11, 2007

Dial-up Internet access goes way of rotary phones

June 11, 2007


Dial-up is officially dead at Kansas University.

At its peak in 1999, about 7,000 people used KU's telephone-based "dial-up" Internet service to surf the Web and check e-mail. Today, as more people shift to faster Internet technology, the number of KU dial-up subscribers has dwindled to about 600, prompting KU to announce last week that it would pull the plug on the service in August.

Jim Drury, 87, a retired Kansas University professor in political science, will have to find another Internet service provider because KU has announced it will pull the plug on its dial-up service this summer. Drury says he uses the service daily to check his e-mail and browse the Internet.

Jim Drury, 87, a retired Kansas University professor in political science, will have to find another Internet service provider because KU has announced it will pull the plug on its dial-up service this summer. Drury says he uses the service daily to check his e-mail and browse the Internet.

"The main thing is the diminishing use," said Bill Myers, director of information services for the KU libraries. "As we as a university strive toward the provost's vision of a first-class infrastructure, continuing to invest resources in diminishing technologies isn't a step in the right direction."

Another reason for the change, Myers said, was information security. No longer having a dial-up system means one less way that KU's computer network could be breached.

One group that will be affected by the change is KU retirees, who make up about one-fourth of dial-up subscribers. They pay $70 per year for the service, compared with private dial-up services that can cost anywhere from $7 to $20 per month.

"I can't remember when I didn't have it," said Jim Drury, 87, a retired professor of political science who uses his dial-up connection daily for e-mail and Internet browsing. "I have to decide what I'm going to do. I'll try to make an informed decision."

The subject will be discussed on Wednesday at a meeting of the Endacott Society, an organization for KU retirees. Endacott Society members have complained recently about gradually losing their perks.

"We have objected long and loud to this pending change," said Tom Eblen, the group's president. "A lot of retirees have them and still use them and are really befuddled as to why the need for the change."

Then again, some retirees already have moved on. Karmie and Edna Galle, both KU retirees, switched to broadband about a month ago because they figured the change was coming.

"I think some people are upset because they think that KU is not being kind to retirees, but I think it's just the way technology is going," said Edna Galle, a former budget assistant to the dean in KU's school of education. "We wonder why we waited so long."


Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

For hardcore net users, you would need a seperate phone line anyways. Figuring that a decent ISP would run you about $20 and that another phone line would run you about $25. That would make a total of $45 for a dial up line. A decent Internet package from Sunflower runs roughly $35 a month. That is not only a ten dollar savings, but you got broadband. You know, the Internet connection that doesn't suck.

average 10 years, 10 months ago

The two people I know still on dialup are several miles outside town, just beyond what Sunflower's wireless covers. I'm hoping rural Douglas county can get some better WiMax coverage some day.

compmd 10 years, 10 months ago

The biggest reason why it is stupid to take away dialup is the lack of broadband coverage. Once you get outside the city limits, all bets are off. DSL's range is very limited, and cable only works where a cable provider decides to implement infrastructure. But guess what? The PSTN infrastructure is in place, and it works. The idiot provost's vision of a "first-class infrastructure" kind of ignores that.

I disagree with Ragingbear's definition of an "Internet connection that doesn't suck." As I mentioned before, the cable connection only works where there is a cable infrastructure. The dialup connection works anywhere there is a telephone. There are a whole lot more telephones in Kansas then cable subscribers. The freedom to be able to connect to the Internet anywhere you want versus having speed in only one place is not indicative of an Internet connection that sucks in my book. And "hardcore net users?" Come on, the dialup is used for browsing and email.

While you can argue that advanced infrastructure will spread, I wouldn't count on it soon. Sunflower is pushing service into some nearby rural subdivisions, but with the recent departure of one of their top network administrators who made significant contributions to the design and implementation of the cable modem network, I don't know what is going to happen with the network in the near future.

We can't say "do away with dialup" in Kansas yet. The infrastructure doesn't exist yet to do that, but if a provost says it does, than surely he is right and my years of networking experience are useless.

sourpuss 10 years, 10 months ago

I thought the private market was supposed to work for everyone? Why shouldn't Sunflower extend if there are customers who need service? Expensive, you say? Well... hopefully the free market will kick in anytime. I've heard it is the answer to everything.

compmd 10 years, 10 months ago

Read again, Ragingbear, I said dial up with a cell phone. I plug it in, make a ppp (dialup) connection, dial a number, watch it authenticate, and voila. I am well aware that I am bending the definition. But, ah, the magic of EVDO. With regular modems, the 56k cap also has to do with the infrastructure design. I have worked with all kinds of wireless communication methods including long range 802.11, mesh networking, high bandwidth microwave links, ZigBee, CW, AM, and SSB on my HF rig. I had a really bad day and when I read your description of the sound of a dialup connection, it made me smile. That's my new favorite description of the sound. :)

We've made leaps and bounds in networking technology and radios, but hams with old tube sets, like myself, won't give up our rigs. If I'm out in a rural area, shortwave works, and shiny fancy cell phones don't. Likewise, if I'm a retired professor and I live in a rural area, dialup works, and shiny fancy cable and DSL modems don't.

A first class infrastructure is one that works, all the time. I think its pretty clear that PSTN is far more reliable and pervasive than broadband connectivity options in our area. So why does our illustrious provost think that a first class infrastructure doesn't need it? Shiny and fancy are not what make a University, sir.

Confrontation 10 years, 10 months ago

I've never had a problem with Sunflower broadband.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

If sunflower disconnects a dozen times a day, call and tell them. I have had them send tech guys out with proper diagnostic equipment, and even have been given free service due to certain problems they have had in the past.

It's just like going around saying "That pothole on this road is horrid. They won't do anything about this pothole no matter what." only to find out that nobody ever bothered to notify the proper office that there was a pothole there.

Kontum1972 10 years, 10 months ago a problem with your them..they will come out and check it out...pick up the phone... your paying for it...or mb your not which seems highly possible. Ragingbear is correct....i have had the same assistance with sunbroadband when there was a problem.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

Even during periods where there were service issues, the customer support has always been awesome. Just last month I stated my concerns over upgrading from the digital box to a DVR. So they gave me a month's DVR service for free.

gccs14r 10 years, 10 months ago

I had SBB when I lived on the west side and it was terrible. Service would go out for a week at a time and they'd offer to send a tech at their convenience, not mine. The last straw was when they came out to "fix" it after a week's outage, it worked for a day, then was out for another week. I switched to DSL and haven't looked back.

nell 10 years, 10 months ago

Ragingbear, If you don't subscribe to cable, there is a cable access fee which costs another $10/mo. So I guess it's comparable to the current going rate. Still, when I switched to broadband it was less expensive than DSL and, more important to me at the time, meant freedom from my least favored utility or business-in-general, SBC. So, I grudgingly decided to pay the local devil I can look in the eye. I've had a few problems, but I suppose service has been better than SBC. It's also better than Comcast, a cable-info service that enjoys broadly distributed local monopolies. But neither of those comments is saying much. Given the tone of other comments of yours that I've read, how do you justify paying dolph simons for internet?

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

I've got dialup. I don't see a big problem with it. We have cable at work, and it doesn't work any faster. Half the time graphics and/or video doesn't even load at work, but it does at home, even though it takes longer.

I'm patient. I can wait.

Michael Stanclift 10 years, 10 months ago

If your cable at work isn't faster then your dialup at home, you've got problems.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

Crazyks, while it is possible that it is your connection that is the culprit, it could also be your computer. How many computers are sharing a single cable line? Has the system been properly upgraded with the most current drivers and product updates? When was the last time the computers were scanned for Adware, scumware, viruses and tracking cookies? Lastly, how old are these systems?

compmd 10 years, 10 months ago

But how many people are using that cable at work? At the apartment complex I live in, we have "wireless broadband Internet access." It looks like it is a collection of six DSL or T1 lines. But, I get no more than 35kb/s (thats kilobits, mind you) down because there are too many people using it. So, I use "dialup" with my cell phone and get anywhere from 500kb/s to 2Mb/s down.

Also, keep in mind that the cable modem network is bridged. So if your neighbor is hogging bandwidth, your bandwidth will suffer. This may be out of date, but last I heard there was a 45Mb line for Sunflower's connection to the Internet. Keep that in mind, too.

Dialup isn't ready to die, folks.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 10 months ago

Well, from what I understand, it depends on how many people are on the cable service, too, and how many may be using it at the particular time you are.

Kind of like dialup, that way.

Oh, yeah, there's a lot of computers on the network, and the network has several different physical locations.

As for proper configuration etc., who knows...we have one IT guy, and who knows if he's as up to date on upgrades as he could be.

And I don't work in Lawrence, so they're not on Sunflower. It's through Allegiance cable.

I don't mind dialup, though. I don't usually do anything online that requires high speed, anyway.

I don't really see why one thing has to die out just because another advancement comes along. Why can't dialup and cable and DSL co-exist?

The same way that some people have new cars, and some have old cars, and some have both.

And those old rotary phones? Now you can get brand new phones that look like them, though they don't work the same way.

Retro is IN right now.

Ragingbear 10 years, 10 months ago

compmd, I don't know how your possibly getting those speeds on a dial-up service. The FCC will not allow a phone modem to consume more than 56k, that is why they were stuck there for so long. You might have DSL or wireless internet, those can account for such speeds. But those are not dialup. Dialup sounds like a speaker getting eaten by a screaming dolphin as it's connecting.

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