Dial-up shut down could leave rural residents in broadband lurch header image

Published: 30th Aug 2013

People living in some of the most remote parts of the UK could be left without internet access as BT has revealed it will turn off its dial-up service on September 1st. 

The company said it has made this decision as only a small number of its customers use the service. 

"This is a legacy product that is only used by a tiny number of customers, most of whom can easily transfer on to broadband for a cheaper price," a BT statement said. 

It claimed around 1,000 people who currently use dial-up connections will be unable to access broadband services as a result of the change, but these households can to transfer to a dial-up service offered by PlusNet. 

However, Oliver Johnson, chief executive of broadband consultancy Point Topic, told the BBC the move will have a negative effect on individuals living in some of the UK's most remote areas. 

"They will be too far from the telephone exchange to get any meaningful broadband. The distance means that the broadband signal degrades," he stated.

A spokesperson for telecommunications watchdog Ofcom told the broadcaster around 800,000 people were using dial-up services in 2010, when data on the issue was last collected. However, that figure may now be substantially lower. 

The majority of dial-up users are located in remote regions, but this is not the only way people in such areas can get online. Satellite broadband is ideally suited to rural use as it only requires the installation of a small satellite dish and modem to function. 

It can provide speeds of up to 20 Mbps, which is far faster than dial-up and many standard broadband connections. Furthermore, this level of service is guaranteed regardless of location, as the connection is provided by a satellite in space rather than phone lines or underground cables. 

Satellite broadband was praised by Mr Johnson earlier this year, when he described the technology as a "realistic alternative" for getting people online across Europe.

Posted by Mark Wynn