The pain of dial-up

by Suw on March 24, 2006

I'd forgotten what it was like. No, really. I'd totally forgotten.
You click a link.
You wait.
The browser pane goes white.
You wait.
You wait.
You wait.
The title comes up at the top of the window. The progress bar has hardly moved.
You wait.
Skeletons of graphics appear, outlining where the images will eventually be. If you're lucky, the alt text tells you what's coming.
You wait.
Slowly, slowly, the page fills in.
You wait.
At last, it is done.
My god, the pain. I'll never accuse a 10 second page load of being slow ever again. When it takes 5 – 10 minutes to load a page, now that's slow.
It took me over 45 minutes to order broadband. Partly, this was's dire site design, which has you going round and round and round in circles before you finally reach escape velocity and it spits you out one some random page that may or may not be the one you want. (It took me half an hour to find the page in their customer service section that told me what the phone number for dial-up was, and that was on a proper broadband connection at Stanhope.)
According to all the line checks, we are hooked up to a shitty exchange that couldn't poop its way out of a wet paper bag. Our connection speed is likely to be 512kbps, possibly hitting 1mbps on a good day going downhill with the wind behind it.
Allegedly, our exchange is going to be upgraded in April 2006, but I will believe it when I see it. At that point, we are promised by a number of providers that speeds of 'up to 8mbps' will be available. I'll believe that when I see it too.
How on earth can this be, in this day and age, and in London? I mean, come on. Bustling metropolis. Nine million inhabitants. How can the telecommunications infrastructure be so shite as to put the existence of decent speed broadband in doubt? It's not like I'm living in Nowhereton-cum-Shitesham in rural Dorsetshire. I'm in Zone Two, ffs. Sheesh.
Also, what is it with dial-up these days? When my modem attempts to connect (and my god, I'm glad I still have an old-fashioned modem in my iBook), I have to pick up the phone and dial a number, then when it rings I click 'OK' on the dialogue box and put the phone down again. What a monumental pain in the arse.
If we're lucky, at some point within the next two weeks we shall have our pathetic excuse of a broadband connection up and running. Until then, I eschew all forms of internet communications during non-work hours. You want me? Call me.
Right, I'm off to go read one of those funny flappy things with words in…

Anonymous March 24, 2006 at 12:46 am

Does T'Other perhaps have enough juice with the Beeb to rate asking for a satellite set-up?

Anonymous March 24, 2006 at 8:01 am

I had an argument with a colleague over a graphics-heavy site design the other day, complaining it would take far too long to load via modem. His attitude was “Are there still people who use dial-up?”
My argument is an emphatic “yes”, as there are many “silver surfers” like my father, who use the net on a daily basis, but don't want the expense and hassle of a DSL connection.
The fact that we have tools such as ajax should be indication enough that web-pages are getting far too complex again.

Anonymous March 24, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Suw, have you tried any other ISPs at all? My girlfriend (who lives in Finsubry Park) had very similar problems when she moved house… one ISP sad she was too far from teh exchange, wheras others claimed they could connect her at the full speeds. Not entirely sure why this is, but it seems that service availablity does vary depending on who you ask.
Anyway, I wish I'd read this a few hours ago…. I signed my lease at lunch time for a flat that's in a similar neck of the woods, and lack of decent internet would be a major dealbreaker for me. In the meantime, if you've got Airport on your laptop, I'd reccomend jumping on the tube and going to foyles where it's free!

Anonymous March 24, 2006 at 5:36 pm

I feel for you, Suw. We had to wait AGES for broadband when we moved in here and the slowness was positively torturous. We only ended up with 512 here too, coz they said that's all we could get in this area. Still, it felt like lightning after weeks of dial-up.

Anonymous March 24, 2006 at 10:16 pm

The pain of blue ball web surfing. In the words of Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain.”

Anonymous March 25, 2006 at 9:22 am

I *am* in Nowhereton-cum-Shitesham in rural Dorsetshire (well, Ringstead, and soon to be in Chaldon Herring), and it doesn't make the pain of dialup any easier to bear. And due to complicated Airport reasons the dialup is by AOL.
This is about a year after BT announced “100% broadband coverage in Dorset”, which of course translates as every exchange being enabled – not 100% availability to every customer.
Having moved from the luxury of a 2Mb connection in Market-Town-Hellhole-Forum 20 miles away I am now feeling *excluded*. No Skype, no meaningful use of Listen Again, no iChat/iSight use. At least I'm saving money on impulse iTunes purchases.
I have to pay a fiver for an hours wireless browsing at Starbucks in Bournemouth just to remember what it was like. It brings a tear to my eye 🙁

Anonymous April 10, 2007 at 4:59 pm

It's an interesting debate you guys bring up over web design. On one hand, a company wants to be perceived as modern and up to date, and that means having a nice website. But graphics-heavy design will definitely alienate dial-up customers. Having spent a lot of time on dial up (but now I'm on a residential t-1 line from, lolI think it's important that companies strive for a balance; you can have an efficient and appealing site without having to have loads of graphics and widgets.

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