BT switched off its dial up service on Sunday (1st September), citing the “tiny number” of users as the key reason for this step. To put some perspective on this, the last time anyone counted, 2010, Ofcom estimated 800,000 people in the UK were still using a dial-up modem.
As broadband has proliferated, we know that the number of people currently using this service is likely to be significantly lower today; in fact, Ofcom says the number is now so low that it’s difficult to measure.
BT gave four months’ notice and the majority of those affected should be able to upgrade to a broadband connection. However, it is estimated that following the switch-off around 1,000 users in remote areas will still not have access to broadband.
With a growing “digital divide” between rural and urban areas, this does highlight the importance and urgency of ensuring coverage, availability and choice of good quality broadband connectivity.
For most the internet has become a necessary utility, and many organisations would struggle to function without connectivity.
While it does seem logical to phase out technology which is considered obsolete by the majority, and we welcome progress in rolling out broadband services across the country, there seems to be a lack of viable alternatives (even for what seems like a small number of people). We have to question if progress has been too slow, if this move has come too soon, and what could be the possible repercussions for some rural businesses.