AOL still sells over $600 million worth of slow dial-up internet per year (!)


I remember back when we got our first computer. We were so excited about not only the computer itself but also finally being able to have dial-up AOL (America Online) — including hearing the awesome “You’ve Got Mail” jiggle every time we would log into AOL. Unfortunately, at the time we lived in a small town which AOL did not service so we had to settle for local dial-up service. We did eventually get AOL when we moved but ditched it years back in favor of broadband when we moved from one computer to two computers in the home.

I figured in today’s digital age of broadband, little to no one would be using AOL dial-up. Heck, I didn’t even know AOL still offered dial-up service. However, to my surprise, many people still are using AOL dial-up. In fact, in AOL’s fiscal 2012, AOL sold over $600 million worth of agonizingly slow dial-up internet!

If you look at AOL’s recently released fiscal 2012 Q4 earnings, you will notice for fiscal 2012 AOL pulled in $705.3 million from ‘subscription[s]’:


AOL is very coy about discussing exactly how many of these subscriptions are AOL dial-up subscribers, but the general consensus among analysts is most of this $700 million comes from AOL dial-up users. However, if you look further down in AOL’s quarterly earnings, you get a better idea of exactly how many people are still subscribed to AOL dial-up:


So, AOL still has roughly 2,794,000 dial-up subscribers who pay roughly $19.27 per month. That comes out to $53,840,380 per month and $646,084,560 per year. To put that number into perspective, AOL is still pulling in more money from dial-up than it is from any of its other segments, such as its ad network and content brands. Insane.

While AOL has not provided details about exactly who are the people still subscribed to their dial-up services, it is speculated that most of these subscribers are elderly and/or uninformed people who either don’t know they don’t need to be subscribed to AOL to access their e-mail, don’t know there are faster connections available now, or simply have forgotten to unsubscribe from AOL. As for the other people who knowingly still have AOL dial-up (either by choice or forced choice due to lack of broadband in their area)… I feel sorry for you.

[via BI, AOL, image via Matthew Inman]

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  • Daly M

    Remember not too many people know the difference between dial up and broadband. So Aol is healthy with revenue.

  • Jason H

    Not to pass so much judgement, but what are you people with dial up connections doing on a “tech” site? If you’re still running dial-up, I really would not think you would be tech savvy or care for the latest advancements in tech.

  • Eric989

    [@NopeNope] You sound like someone who can get a laugh out of those DishNet satellite internet commercials. They advertise that it works in rural areas like Joplin, Missouri. Joplin has a population of 50,000 and probably none of those 50,000 have any use for DishNet unless there are some lingering problems from that terrible tornado they had a while back.
    It is always funny hearing city folk talk about rural areas. They really don’t have a clue. A city with a population of 50,000 is NOT rural. Living in a county with a population of 500 IS.
    This also reminds me of a local commercial I used to see. It advertised being able to live in the country without being too far separated from their friends and family in the city. It was a commercial for a subdivision WITHIN the freaking city limits with the houses spaced 10 feet apart. Apparently living in the country is not living in an apartment building to those people.
    This also brings back bad memories of trying to buy a house with lots of privacy. The realtor would take me to like 50 different houses that sit on cleared land, 50 feet from a busy road, surrounded on 3 or 4 sides by multiple houses within clear and close view and not understand why I didn’t think that was a private setting. By private I meant not being able to see my neighbors or have them see me.

  • NopeNope

    “As for the other people who knowingly still have AOL dial-up (either by choice or forced choice due to lack of broadband in their area)… I feel sorry for you.”

    Get out of your city bubble and see America. I have high speed internet, but just a hop skip and a jump away from me it’s not available. The only alternative to dial-up is expensive and limited satellite internet. It’s called a RURAL AREA. They do exist, and AOL’s numbers can’t just be chalked up to people who ‘forgot’ or don’t know they don’t need it. It is not cost effective for a company to run and maintain copper lines or fiber infrastructure for a few dozen subscribers. The only place this happens is with heavy government subsidies. On the other hand, phone lines generally persist everywhere.

  • Jay

    I used to work for AOL as a customer representative agent on the billing project and I can confirm that most of them are unaware that they are still paying for dial up and does not use dial up.

  • Eric989

    If any of you are wondering how it is possible for dialup to take 17 minutes to fully load this page it isn’t about the amount of data as much as it is with how slow dialup is at establishing connections. I’m not talking about dialing up the modem; I am talking about the whole process of connecting to… waiting for… transferring from… for individual page elements. You know, all that stuff that shows in the bottom bar of your browser while a page is loading.
    In that regard dialup is horrendous. Based on my usage, dialup really struggles with trying to load multiple pages at once and the level of slowness grows exponentially. Opening two pages at once might take 4 times at long as opening just one. Opening 3 pages at once might take 6 to 8 times as long as the connection struggles to connect to one site while it is still transferring from another.

  • Eric989

    I use dialup and no it is not fine as long as you don’t use Netflix and stuff like that. Dialup sucks, period. Those who think dialup is an acceptable cheap alternative must be thinking back to when they used dialup many years ago. The internet has changed and web pages are designed for fast internet now. You can eventually get most sites to work but some sites that are heavily flash based will never load even if you wait for hours. I own well over a hundred steam games and haven’t been able to play any of them in over 6 years. Steam is so dialup unfriendly that I can no longer even login to their site to purchase games for future use. Steam is the only online store that I cannot make a purchase on, though.
    Other annoyances of dialup are incomplete page loads and missing elements. I have gotten logged out of my online banking session due to inactivity because the next page took so long to load. How does having to wait 1 hour to watch a single standard definition 3 minute video on youtube sound?
    To give you guys an accurate portrayal of how slow dialup really is I cleared my cache and navigated to this page to see how long it would take to load. I stared at a blank screen for 1.5 minutes. At 2 minutes the text was visible. At 12 minutes the page stopped loading but the images including the dottech logo were not fully loaded so I went to the address bar and pressed enter to get the page to continue loading. Finally, at 17 minutes, the entire page was loaded. 17 minutes!!!!!!!!!!! And Dottech is not a particularly slow loading website for me. If that is acceptable for you then have at it.
    Where I live dialup is the only option unless you want to settle for 2g from Att or expensive and laggy satellite that requires a two year commitment. There is a difference in living in a small rural community and living 5 miles from that rural community. Broadband comes within 1 mile of my home on both sides but I guess it is not worth anybody’s while to wire 2 miles of road for only 7 houses. I would go for the satellite if I planned on living here for 2 more years but I don’t.
    AOL is still a ripoff. I use Fry’s ISP and it only costs like $5.88 for standard and $8.88 a month for accelerated. It works as good as any I have tried in my area. For the purpose of the above tests I turned off the acceleration proxy to give a true comparison to what you broadband people are seeing.

  • sl0j0n

    Hello, all.
    Here in the deep south, there are still dial-up users. When I moved into my own home, 2006, I tried the ‘at that time’ AT&T/Southern Bell dial-up, because initially I was told I couldn’t get broadband via cable here. It was so ssllloooowwwww, you literally could have printed the pages & mailed them to me faster.
    Today, many web pages are so graphic/javascript intensive that they will never load over a slow dial-up connection. And don’t you just *love* the sound of two modems ‘handshaking’?
    Politics, like drugs, is *BAD*, people. Just say “NO!”!
    Have a GREAT day, neighbors?

  • Mei

    Two years ago I relocated to a rural community of 736. Everyone knows each other.

    We have two local broadband ISPs, one connecting via microwave, the other using fiberoptic cable.

    I haven’t heard of a single soul still using dial-up Internet access anywhere around here.

  • David

    I am not an expert on internet speed, but $20.00 per month is not bad compared to broad band which cost me $60.00 per month. I have been told if you are not downloading a lot like with Netflix you can easily get by with a dialup connection. Dialup is faster today than say 10 years ago. So us old gezzers who may be living on a limited income this maybe a great option to get on the web & check our mail via AOL (You got mail).
    I like both Bush presidents and voted for both and the drawing looks nothing like him in my opinion.

  • Donna

    Dial Up. Those were the days! I remember being oh so excited to hear “you got mail” I even changed the voice at one time. We were so excited back then. Now all we do is complain about speed.

    So you think that looks like GWB? Hmmm, I am with the other commenter. Looks a little more like a monkey with makeup. Oh, I had to edit. I get it. You think GWB looks like a monkey…. LOL….

  • Tom

    14.4? I’m usually in the low 50’s. Try NetZero.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    Actually, I wasn’t sure if it was GWB or a monkey. Kinda looks like both.

    To the point of the article, I too was surprised that AOL still provides that much dial up service. With high speed connections available seemingly everywhere today – including the population 1200 town I recently relocated to – you tend to forget that there are still people on dial up.

  • dbaby

    Wow, did not know people still had dial up. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Ashraf

    Before anyone says anything, the image in this article is not trying to make fun of elderly people. That is supposed to be George Bush. And not that I am anti-Bush or anti-Republican. I just thought the image was (is) funny.