Hundreds of Thousands of Canadians Still Use Dial-Up. But Why?

Today, most Canadians are complaining that their latest $700 smartphone is stuck on 3G, not the bleeding-edge 4G LTE networks cropping up across the country.

But there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians still stuck in the Stone Age of the Internet Era: their home PCs are crawling the web at the slow, slow speed of dial-up.

Dial-up—which can take multiple minutes to download a single page on the internet—is how up to 3% of Canada’s population still accesses the internet. While the number is going down—the CRTC estimated there were 366,000 dial-up consumers in Canada in 2010, while the Congvergence Consulting Group suggests the number fell to 250,000 by the end of 2011—it’s still alarmingly high in a world of blazing-fast connections and a web filled with high-res photos and high-def videos.

Why are some Canadians still stuck on dial-up? Two reasons. The first is that, shockingly, some choose it for price, even though high-speed internet has come down dramatically in cost (although it’s still unfairly high relative to most developed countries). The second is that some rural areas of Canada still cannot access high-speed internet—although that’s only about 1% of the population.