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BT turns off dial-up Internet access today

BT's dial-up service is no more, as it's shut it down today, saying only a "tiny number" of its customers still used it.

Those dulcet tones of a modem creaking into life are now a thing of the past. That's because BT has turned off its dial-up Internet access as of today, the BBC reports.

'So what?' you might be thinking. 'Surely everyone uses broadband nowadays?' Not quite everyone. BT said it's shutting down the service because only a "tiny number" of its customers still use it, with the vast majority of its 6.8 million punters connecting over super-fast broadband. Some rural areas can't get broadband, but don't worry if that's you, as you won't be left in the lurch.

BT estimates about 1,000 people who've lost their dial-up connection won't be able to get broadband, because of their rural location. But it has alternative options for them thanks to its Plusnet subsidiary. "No-one is being left without the option of an alternative service," a BT spokesperson told the BBC.

I remember the heady days of dial-up, waiting an age for a page to load, and having to disconnect because someone wanted to use the landline. That's because modems sent data over the same lines that were used for voice calls, so connections weren't exactly nippy. They generally maxed out at about 56 kilobits per second, though compression could speed this up. There are 1,024 kilobits in a megabit, so a 56kb per second connection is quite a bit slower than today's 100-plus Mb per second ones.

According to Ofcom, about 800,000 people still used dial-up in 2010 (800,000?!), which was the last year for which figures were available. Which tells you just how much the number has dropped off since then.

"The number has now fallen so low nationally that it's quite difficult to get any accurate figures from a survey sample," an Ofcom spokesperson told the BBC. "We think it's in the very low hundreds of thousands but we cannot be any more confident than that."

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