The slow death of dial-up: 2 percent of us still use AOL

August 7, 2013
(Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
(Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

It's easy to take Netflix and Spotify for granted at a time when fiber optic cables can send HD movies and high-quality audio to our computers in minutes. But according to AOL's second-quarter earnings report Wednesday, more than 2.5 million people still subscribe to the Internet company's services.


(AOL)

That represents a drop of 15 percent from the same quarter last year, but it's still a hefty portion of the country. There are roughly 114 million households in the United States. Do a bit of math, and that works out to roughly 2.2 percent.

Not all of those people are even aware that they're still paying, which makes AOL's continued earnings from dial-up services a particularly genius form of memory-hole leeching. (As you'll see from the update below, however, dial-up isn't the only service that's captured by the enigmatic term "AOL-brand access subscriber.")

But then there are those who either lack access to broadband or can't afford what's in their area. About 17 percent of dial-up users say there's no broadband where they live; 35 percent say the price needs to fall before they'd adopt it.

Not everyone contained in AOL's 2.5 million subscriber figure lives in rural or poor areas. Still, it's a good reminder that even as much of the country adopts newer broadband technologies, there's a risk that some might get left behind.

Update: An AOL spokesperson responds to an earlier query, clarifying that the subscriber figure includes both dial-up and "other products and services."

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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