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BT Prepares To Pull Plug On Dial-Up 120

Posted by timothy
from the for-soothing-modem-noise-press-1 dept.
judgecorp writes "BT has proudly announced it will switch off its dial-up service on 1 September. But it turns out it isn't the end of the line for dial-up modems in the UK. BT charges £17.25 per month for dial-up, and broadband is only £10, so anyone who can switch across probably has by now. There are areas where broadband is not available, and BT reckons it still has 1000 dial-up customers who can't move to ADSL. For them, BT recommends a switch to Plusnet — an ISP which offers cheaper dial-up prices and is owned by .... BT."
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BT Prepares To Pull Plug On Dial-Up

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31, 2013 @02:51AM (#44722553)

    Web designers who want to get a sense of what their web site feels like on dialup can download thttpd [acme.com] which supports bandwidth limiting; 5 kilobytes a second is a reasonable simulation of a dialup connection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      5 kilobytes/sec is FAST for dialup, try 3.22 for typical connection speeds (26400 bps).
      Believe it or not, several games are playable at that data rate.

      • by exxaminer (3020721) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @03:36AM (#44722641)
        Yeah...chess..:-)
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Quake 3 Arena.
          Latency of dialup is as low as 180 ms.
          Sometimes that's better than 3g.

          ISDN is better than either on latency - sub 30 ms and could be considered "dialup" since you do need a phone number to connect.
          Bonus for ISDN - answering machine to MP3, recording calls, automated redial so fast you can disable any number at will.

      • by dryeo (100693) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @03:47AM (#44722681)

        I'm stuck on 26.4-28.8 connections due to location. My son plays quite a few games on-line. As I'm his gateway I monitor the amount of traffic and often he is barely using 300 b/s. Minecraft is one example he plays a lot.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Apologies for posting as apparently anonymous coward (from the uk).... there are satellite alternatives who's prices have been getting more reasonable (no i don't work for a sat company), i do know someone that uses a home style service and they say it is good (they live on a canal boat). I monitor prices on the satellite stuff and it's getting much more reasonable especially if you were paying 17 quid for crap.... anyway might be worth a look for you... http://www.avonlinebroadband.co.uk/packages/

          Lee

          • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexus[ ]org ['uk.' in gap]> on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:17AM (#44722767) Homepage

            Apologies for posting as apparently anonymous coward (from the uk).... there are satellite alternatives who's prices have been getting more reasonable (no i don't work for a sat company), i do know someone that uses a home style service and they say it is good (they live on a canal boat). I monitor prices on the satellite stuff and it's getting much more reasonable especially if you were paying 17 quid for crap.... anyway might be worth a look for you... http://www.avonlinebroadband.co.uk/packages/ [avonlinebroadband.co.uk]

            Lee

            The problem with satellite broadband is the latency is very high, even compared to dialup (although the throughput can certainly be good), so whether its suitable depends on what you're using it for. Also, some of the satellite "internet" providers actually only provide access to the web, which is rather less useful.

            • by Altanar (56809) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:45AM (#44722929)

              Exede [exede.com] user here. Here's my typical experience with my satellite connection:

              • Minimum latency: 700 ms
              • Download speed: Paying for 12 Mbps. Real speed: around 20 Mbps. Yes, actually faster than advertised. However, due to the built-in latency, websites feel a little slower to load.
              • Upload speed: Paying for 3 Mbps. Real speed: Usually 1 Mbps. They obviously put low priority on uploads.
              • Data cap: 15 GB/month. However, data is unmetered between 12 AM and 5 AM.
              • Internet access Essentially unfiltered. Bittorrent is throttled. However, enabling protocol encryption bypasses the throttling.

              My main issue with Exede is that it's DNS is flaky and sometimes requires me to cycle my network connection to fix. Even worse, it uses a proxy to hijack all port 53 DNS requests, so you can't choose an alternate server with the standard port. Netalyzr's [berkeley.edu] log info on this:

              UDP access to remote DNS servers (port 53) appears to pass through a firewall or proxy. The client was unable to transmit a non-DNS traffic on this UDP port, but was able to transmit a legitimate DNS request, suggesting that a proxy, NAT, or firewall intercepted and blocked the deliberately invalid request. A DNS proxy or firewall caused the client's direct DNS request to arrive from another IP address. Instead of your IP address, the request came from [Redacted]. A DNS proxy or firewall generated a new request rather than passing the client's request unmodified.

              But other than that, it's still a *vast* improvement over the dial up I had for 15 years.

              • by darthdavid (835069) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:55AM (#44722951) Homepage Journal

                Minimum latency: 700 ms

                [screams internally]

              • Even worse, it uses a proxy to hijack all port 53 DNS requests, so you can't choose an alternate server with the standard port.

                My guess is that it probably does a few tricks with proxying both DNS and HTTP traffic to improve performance in light of the latency (e.g. 3-way TCP handshakes are going to take about 1050ms to complete under normal circumstances on your connection, whereas a proxy can eliminate the need to carry the 3-way handshake across the low latency connection. Local caching DNS would be a big help too, so I wouldn't be surprised if that was built into your router.)

                I'm curious how satellite providers handle upstream

              • Minimum latency: 700 ms

                Just like living in New Zealand and trying to access some international sites over 'broadband'.

          • by dryeo (100693)

            Mountains, trees and rain make satellite impractical here.

        • Minecraft, and most online games, don't use a lot of bandwidth. They are very sensitive to latency though - once the RTT goes over about 100ms players start to notice. Most FPSs become effectively unplayable at around 700, and even below this lower-latency connections give some players a considerable advantage. Dialup is also higher-latency, as even a few packets queued up can take considerable time to clear.

      • by Xicor (2738029)
        my grandparents use dialup, the download of firefox timed out after 12 hours
        • by dryeo (100693)

          wget is your friend. I can upload Firefox in about 6 hours but what is a killer is Mercurial which really doesn't like dial-up

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      sad thing is, most of those testimonies could be powered by a rooted nook simple touch and withstand the significant hardware upgrade

      last time I was on dialup it was 2007 with two computers, 1 modem

      it was tedious, but not unmanageable

    • by gagol (583737)

      Web designers who want to get a sense of what their web site feels like on dialup can download thttpd [acme.com] which supports bandwidth limiting; 5 kilobytes a second is a reasonable simulation of a dialup connection.

      kilobit or kilobyte? Last I remember, it was around 45 kilobit per second... (long LONG time ago...)

      • by dryeo (100693)

        If you live somewhere in the west where your only option is dial-up, it is going to be slower. Here currently CONNECT 28800/ARQ/V34/LAPM/V42BIS and it is probably now 26.4

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        The theoretical limit is 56 kilobits per second, which is 7 kilobytes per second. However 5 kilobytes per second is a more realistic real-world speed.

        • The theoretical limit is much higher. Modems use compression.
          • Anything big that one would send over the wire, such as zipfiles, image files, audio files, and application installers, is already compressed. Modems won't increase compression.
        • That's 56Kb/s if you've got a good line, but if you've got a line that can do 56Kb/s then you're probably also close enough to the exchange that you can get ADSL, and a cheap ADSL package will cost less than dial-up these days. If you're somewhere where you can't get ADSL, then the line quality is likely not going to give you more than 26.4Kb/s, which works out to under 3KB/s once you add in protocol overhead and 2-2.5 being more common.
          • by gagol (583737)
            I remember 64K isdn and a (very dissapointing) star wars episode 4 trailer download (50 real mb) and was impressed it took lees than a day! Ha memories ;-)
      • The theoretical maximum is 56k down, 33.6k up - something that the modem manufacturers don't like to boast on the '56k' label is that the connection is assymetric.

        In practice though, you'll very rarely achieve the full 56k down - that's the speed under an ideal line quality. The modems run quality tests on the line during handshaking (That series of sounds increasing tone in steps you can hear) to determine how high they can safely go. Somewhere around 40-45k is about typical.

        • The max is actually 48kbs. A channel is reserved.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          I recently replaced my modem. The new one (a USRobotics) supports V.92 which claims 56K down and 48K (or 31.2K with a V.90 server) up with a note that FCC regulations limit it to 53.3 down with a disclaimer about lines and support. I get 26.4-28.8 connections.

        • Theoretical maximum is actually 64k in the UK, but the modem standards were designed to be compatible with the US, which can only handle 56K (7 bit bytes @ 8Khz rather than 8 bits @ 8 Khz) so ... you won't get it.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Actually, in areas where broadband is not yet available, the phone lines usually don't support better than 26kbit, and in real terms a bit less than that due to overhead. So, about half as fast as standard dialup is a far more realistic test setting.

  • This seems to be good news for everyone. BT gets to can a part of their business that is already made redundant by an owned property. They can allocate those resources somewhere else. The other telecom gets an increase of around 1000 subscribers increasing revenue for them. For some reason the crazy individuals who were paying more for the same service are now being informed that they should pay this other company less for the same service. The only people who lose are the ones who were technicians wor

    • Re:Not bad at all (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @03:37AM (#44722643)

      The only people who lose are the ones who were technicians working directly on the dialup infrastructure.

      BT Openreach will still maintain the dial-up modems in the non-ADSL exchanges, of which there are 80+ in Scotland. So no real technical savings there.

      • by gagol (583737)
        So, its like touch tone telephones. No more new suscribers, gotta serve the customers we have now...
        • by bheading (467684)

          There is a long tradition of backwards compatibility in the telephone network in the UK.

          A phone made 100 years ago will still work. Unbalanced ringing and pulse dialling are all supported.

          • A phone made 100 years ago will still work. Unbalanced ringing and pulse dialling are all supported.

            There's something appealing and slightly romantic about that

    • by dryeo (100693)

      As long as the subscribers aren't faced with long distance charges to connect with the other ISP.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        No. There is no such thing as long distance charges, in the UK. It costs the same to call anyone anywhere in the country no matter where you are.

      • Re:Not bad at all (Score:5, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Saturday August 31, 2013 @08:41AM (#44723373) Homepage

        Short version:
        Whereever they are in the UK they will pay the same charges to use the internet either paying a fixed subscription fee and then no phone call charges or paying by the minuite to their phone provider.

        Long version:
        The fact you use the term "long distance charges" makes me suspect you are an american. Things played out differently in the UK.

        AIUI in the USA local calls were traditionally free, so if you found an ISP in your local call area then you paid no phone call charges. If your ISP was outside your local call area then you would pay "long distance charges" to connect to it in addition to whatever your ISP charged.

        In the UK calls were traditionaly divided into "local", "regional" and "national". Local calls were cheapest (but not free), regional calls more expensive and national calls the most expensive. None were free.

        When dialup ISPs first turned up in the UK they had only the occasional point of presense and it had a regular geographic number, so if you were outside of london you may well have had to pay national call rates to use them. This made internet access fairly expensive.

        Then ISPs realised they could use 0845 numbers. At the time 0845 numbers cost the same as a local call regardless of where you were in the UK* and due to the crazy way regulatory structures were set up the reciving telco could actually make a profit off the call. At first ISPs just added 0845 lines as a feature and continued to charge subscription fees and/or per minuite charges of their own but later ISPs showed up where the only thing the customer had to pay was the 0845 call charges.

        Arround this time there was also a short lived product called "surftime" from BT where the end user paid an additional charge on their phone line rental and in exchange got unmetered access (possiblly only at certain times of day) to special dialup phone numbers intended specially for use with the surftime package (though they could also be used by non-surftime users who would have to pay a per-minuite charge for the call)

        Finally ISPs started offering "unmetered" packages where you pay a subscription to your ISP but you don't pay any phone call prices. From the end users point of view it looks like they are calling a freephone number and nothing appears on their phone bill but from the ISPs point of view there are special tarrifs for this service that are much cheaper than a regular freephone call.

        Arround this time cheap (often unmetered) calling plans for phone calls to geographic numbers came in but 0845 calls were excluded from them and often the geographic numbers of ISPs were explicitly exlcuded too. So you couldn't really use them to access the internet.

        Surftime basically died out (I can find any announcement saying it was no longer available to new customers, i've no idea if they ever got arround to killing it completely) so now for dialup in the UK you have basically two options. Either you use an ISP with no subscription fees and an 0845 number (and pay your telephone provider per minuite) or you use an ISP where you pay a subscription fee and then get free calls to the ISP.

        * Since then the cost of calls to geograpic numbers has dropped through the floor while 0845 prices have remained much the same, so this is no longer the case.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          Thanks for the explanation, I should have remembered the British phone system. Here in Canada long distance is a consideration if you're not in a major metro area and it is expensive ($0.27 base) with most calling cards and such going through compression which screws up dial-up.

          • You're being buttraped. I pay 1c/min for calls to the other side of the world (or $5/month for unmetered calls to most of the western world including to anywhere in North America)
            • by dryeo (100693)

              Reread what I wrote, with most calling cards and such going through compression which screws up dial-up.. They work fine for voice but try using a modem and you're lucky to get better then 2400. Perhaps the telcos long distance suffers the same problem now but it used to work as well as a local call when it came to using a modem. For voice calls we use cards that are cheap but then we get hit with a $5 monthly charge for not using enough long distance. I'm sure glad the government gave away our phone system

              • I'm not in North America and I'm not using calling cards - these are my telco's rates.

                The USA governement never owend the phone system in the first place, but they provide legalised monopolies for local service, which is what drives your insane pricing structures. I live in a country with a (mostly) deregulated environment where the incumbent telco is required to provide FRAND local loop - the line company is (imperfectly) separated from the rest of the telco to ensure there is a competitive market.

                As a r

                • by dryeo (100693)

                  I'm not in North America and I'm not using calling cards - these are my telco's rates.

                  You're lucky to live somewhere with competition.

                  The USA governement never owend the phone system in the first place, but they provide legalised monopolies for local service, which is what drives your insane pricing structures. I live in a country with a (mostly) deregulated environment where the incumbent telco is required to provide FRAND local loop - the line company is (imperfectly) separated from the rest of the telco to ensure there is a competitive market.

                  Actually the USA government did nationalize the phone service around the time of WWI for a while but that is besides the point as I'm not in the USA. Unluckily sometimes my government takes lessons from the USA government which is why when the phone service was privatized it was supposed to work the same way as it does for you and shortly changed into one of the few countries with worse service then the USA.

                  As a result I get unmetered 80/20Mb broadband, plus local loop, plus unlimited national calling, plus unlimited international calling as described for about $60/month - with $40 of that being the broadband (it can be had for $10/month with caps)

                  You can blame your government for the pricing - your state government - for protecting the monopoly of the incumbent LEC and regulating what prices they (and CLECs) can charge. It's amazing how you can justify high prices to the local regulators by fabricating charges all over the place insted of splitting off the incumbents into line company/"and the rest", then allowing true competition into the marketplace.

                  While you are partially right about the lack of compe

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.uklinux.net/ do dial-up

  • I had to go check FTA to see what the date on it was -- the 30th.
    So BT is really only giving people 2 days notice that it's ending their Internet service?

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      From FTA:

      but it wrote to its narrowband customers in June explaining its decision to terminate the service

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Ah, thanks.

        I looked at the article, but I didn't read it cause, ya'know...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If you expect to get your customer service notices from the comments in Slashdot-linked news articles... um, dude, I think your rent might be due. Better check on that.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Excellent... so, news article is late, summary tries very hard to make BT look bad when in fact it is lowering prices for everyone. So... um... dude, I seriously can't see anything bad going on here. And it's not interesting, like getting a last telegram... "Hi, this is my last email on dial-up" just isn't the same.

  • No way! Slashdot still covers us/uk in the same level (above anyone else)
  • Dial-what?

    • Dialup users, you know, those losers that still need a modem to get to the intern[CARRIER LOST]

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Lije Baley (88936):

      Dial-what?

      With that UID the only way you can't know is if you have Alzheimer...

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @03:40AM (#44722655)
    Good idea, BT. Now, a good sequel to this would be to pull the plug on IPv4, and replace it all w/ IPv6
  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:25AM (#44722785)

    I'm finding that I'm not learning any more from the Internet now than the Internet of 13 years ago.

    There's a lot more shiny and noise, and web pages which used to be optimised for efficient downloading are now optimised for nothing at all.

    It's like comparing Windows NT 4 with 8, or Adobe Reader 3 with XI: the functionality that most people need to get work done has been there for a very long time.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I'm finding that I'm not learning any more from the Internet now than the Internet of 13 years ago.

      If you care to you can find plenty good how-to videos on YouTube that are far more instructional than the plain text files you could download back in the dial-up days (yes, 2000 I was still on ISDN, 64 kbps and pay-per-minute) but I much prefer using it for entertainment. And I love HD over grainy crappy old shit that takes forever to download, bring on UHD.

      • I'm sorry but long streaming videos are *not* far more instructional than what can be achieved with mark-up.

        The video lecture format has a one-size-fits-nobody delivery rate, and you can't even decide how much information to show in front of you at once.

        It's possible that people with poor attention spans do better with TV, but that's a different problem which isn't solved by more TV.

        Yes, if you *enjoy* copious amounts of high resolution video, the modern Internet is better for that sort of *entertainment*.

      • And I love HD over grainy crappy old shit that takes forever to download, bring on UHD.

        I'm curious where you're finding your HD video on the internet... Certainly the HD video on iplayer is such low bandwidth and it macroblocks on any fast moving video (for reference, BBC HD on DVB-S is 16Mbps H.264... BBC HD on iplayer is... not).

    • web pages which used to be optimised for efficient downloading are now optimised for nothing at all.

      That's not true; they're optimized for showing you a maximum of advertisement with a minimum of content.

      I really feel for the poor dial-up folks. It was bad enough a decade and a half ago when web pages were reasonable, but now that every 10-item list has turned into a one-page-per-item slideshow it's got to be infuriating!

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I'm finding that I'm not learning any more from the Internet now than the Internet of 13 years ago.

      I think you have a rose coloured view of the internet from 13 years ago. The great learning opportunities existed back then in ring groups that you had to click from page to page often with a poor signal to noise on any actual learning. Search engines were poor to the point where you'd use certain engines on certain topics to find something useful. Just because the modern view isn't optimised for efficient downloading doesn't mean that the internet now isn't far better.

      On the topic of learning let's find so

    • I don't miss the days of either metered dialup or unmetered plans that kicked you off after an hour forcing you to wait through that modem dialing again making use of IM impractical. I don't miss the days of having my phone line being blocked by being online. I don't miss the days of video being something you waited hours to see a short low quality clip. Yes sometimes it's enfuriating when some idiot makes video the only option but it's often much easier to see how to do something when you are shown it than

  • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @04:26AM (#44722787)
    My brother is an old BT customer (in both senses). He has had a BT email account since Adam was a lad, and a broadband account since broadband became available on his street (getting on for 10 years).

    He just forwarded an email to me which purported to come from BT offering to "connect his email address to his broadband account", Click Here to keep your email address. It looked very very real, but the link targets did not correspond to the text.

    It is possible his email account was marked as dial-up because of how long it has existed with no changes that would have recreated it - but still, the links aren't right. So I said "PHISHING" and told him to forward the headers to abuse@bt.com.
    It's getting more and more difficult to tell phishing from real messages that are just incompetently designed.

    Postscript: I forwarded the email to abuse@bt.com - where it bounced. Way to go, BT - advertise an address that doesn't work. Perhaps you are too busy letting the NSA burrow into the Transatlantic Cable.http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/02/telecoms-bt-vodafone-cables-gchq
  • There are dial-up providers out there which don't even ask that you sign-up, they just provide a phone-number+username+password for anyone to use. [phurix.co.uk]

    (What's in it for them, I don't know. 0845 numbers don't generate revenue for the callee.)

    What BT are shutting down is, from what I can gather, their unlimited dial-up service (i.e. a username/password on a dial-up service at a free-to-call number). Whether there are any of those still out there, I'm not sure. Google didn't turn up anything interesting.

    • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @05:56AM (#44722961) Homepage

      0845 numbers are special rate numbers and do generate some revenue in termination fees for the receiving telco. It probably isn't enough money for them to pass it on to a call centre or similar that uses the numbers, but when the telco uses the numbers themselves to provide an internet service, the numbers do stack up.

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        I don't know that you're right. Having skimmed these [saynoto0870.com] three [saynoto0870.com] threads [saynoto0870.com], I get the impression the telcos are the ones who profit here.

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Is that not what I said? Yes, the telco gets the money. Whether they use that money to forward the call to call centres around the country, or to provide a dial up internet service is up to them, but they do get money out of it, and that money is enough to pay for the costs of operating an internet service.

          • by Wootery (1087023)

            Is that not what I said? Yes, the telco gets the money.

            I wasn't clear: in this specific case, I don't think the dial-up Internet provider is really a telco; it's just a small-time dial-up service run out of some company's basement. I don't imagine the company running 0845 123 2000 makes any more money on it than, say, a bank that uses an 0845 number for telephone banking.

  • by CrAlt (3208) on Saturday August 31, 2013 @09:57AM (#44723745) Homepage Journal

    AT&T still offers good dial up here in the states for $22/month. Free if you are a uverse customer.
    http://att.prodigy.net/openPhone/index.html [prodigy.net]

    I keep a little usb modem in my laptop bag for those "when all else fails" times. Its slow but its better then nothing.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      I keep my Earthlink dialup account for the same reason -- sometimes it's all I've got, and it beats nothing. (Also, their email is VERY reliable.)

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