Frugal Parents: Dial Up Internet

(Photo source)

This is a series I put together to share my parents’ frugal habits. My family grew up poor, but it never felt like it to my sisters and I. It was only when I grew older that I realized how much my parents had to scrimp and save, in order to give my sisters and I the life we have now. Some of these stories are funny, some sad and I hope that some may also warm your heart.

In my parents’ household, my father had dial up internet up until June 2010, when my sister moved back in with my parents and decided that she would pay for high speed internet before she went bonkers. (Remember those whirring sounds? Yep.)

$2.95 + tax

Years ago (circa 2000), my father found a dial up internet service via the Toronto Star for $2.95 per month for unlimited use. The service was reliable and it had no ads! My father was sold and was a loyal customer for the next 10 years.

See, my father used internet mostly to read his e-mail and for minor reading of news websites. Remember back in the late 1990’s when everyone was forwarding chain letter e-mails? That’s the stage my father is in now. 🙂

The Routine

My father also had a routine he perfected with his dial up internet.

He long ago figured out the maximum download speed during “off” hours. On average a 2mb file attachment would take approximately 15 minutes to download, and a 5mb file attachment, approximately 30 minutes.

While his download was going, he would finish some chores in the kitchen – sweeping, dishes or general clean up. All the while, keeping an ear out for the sound to indicate the download was finished.

My mom loved all the chores that got done!

High Speed Internet Discovery

My father discovered high speed internet at my uncle’s house. The funny thing is, my uncle never used his internet – he got it for his kids. So, my father would teach him how to use software to write in Chinese, where to find news articles and basically navigate the web. My dad started going to my uncle’s house to teach him, instead of having my uncle come over.

You know how they say, once you have high speed internet, there is no going back? Well, that is true for almost everyone – but not my dad. Instead of getting high speed internet, my father bought several USB sticks and would simply download his e-mail attachments at my uncle’s house and read them over the course of the week at his own house!

I just asked my dad last week whether he could go back to dial up internet, and his answer was YES. If my sister wasn’t paying for it, my dad would go back to dial up in a heartbeat. He said he couldn’t justify paying 20 times the price for “just a bit of speed.”

When was the last time you used dial up internet? Are there any readers out there still using dial up internet?



Filed under Frugal Parents

10 responses to “Frugal Parents: Dial Up Internet

  1. When I was 17, my mom and I moved into my stepdads house which was pretty much out in the sticks. At first, they didn’t offer internet out there, and finally, they offered only dial up. It actually wasn’t horrible – it was prettty quick, but I probably just got used to it!

    • I never used to think dial up was slow until I experienced high speed. Now the thought of hearing the dial tones and slow download speeds is a real damper. I’m sure I could go back if I had to. (But it will be painful).

  2. I’d say the last time was approx 2 years ago at my parents place. They live 15 minutes out of town, but the service providers refuse to bring in anything faster, even though everyone wants it. Checking my email used to be done in sync with boiling water and making a cup of tea. By the time my email was open, I had a cup of tea made! My parents upgraded to one of those mobile wireless USB keys, now we wander around the house with our laptops looking for a signal! It’s not surprising though, we do the same thing with our cell phones there, lol!

  3. We still had dialup in 1997 but I think we upgraded that year. My first modem was a “blazing” 2400 baud (this was 1993 I think) – I could literally go make and eat a sandwich waiting for ONE page to load. And this was before browsers existed… There weren’t even any graphics or pictures! Trying to chat with someone was hilarious.

    I couldn’t imagine ever returning to those days… My connection may be expensive, but the speed is worth it!

  4. Rockstar

    Your Dad is so cute!! Can’t wait to read more of this series.
    I left dial up in 2001 and NEVER looked back.

  5. I left dialup eons ago.. I think as soon as it came out, we got it.

    My dad is addicted to it now. He can’t wait for dialup speeds to give him his news any longer.

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