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What is High Speed Dial-Up?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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High speed dial-up Internet service is a type of Internet service that offers faster download speeds than typical dial-up service for some web functions. High speed dial-up often costs more than regular dial-up, but still less than many broadband connections. Those advertising such a service, claim that it can be up to five times faster than normal dial-up service in some cases. In reality, while it can speed up some processes, it cannot speed up all processes.

High speed dial-up service works by employing a variety of different methods in order to make the Internet connection seem faster. It should be noted that the bandwidth over phone lines is determined by the phone line capacity. Therefore, the connection speed does not actually improve. Instead, the Internet service provider (ISP) uses shortcuts in establishing the communication, compression, filtering and caching in order to make the connection appear faster to the user. While web pages usually load faster, the connection itself is the same as with regular dial-up.

The key to effective high speed dial-up service is in the acceleration servers. These servers, used by the ISP, do several things to improve the speed for dial-up users. The most common strategy employed is one of compression. Compression reduces the size of images and other types of data. In most cases, the resulting visual degradation is hard, if not impossible, to notice, yet it can make a big difference in file size, thereby allowing the items load faster.

Another strategy is called caching, which means temporarily storing frequently used web page files on the computer's hard drive. Most computers already do this to a certain extent. With high speed dial-up service, however, a server will take note of the most frequently visited sites, and prioritize the caching for those sites, thus reducing the time it takes to send and receive information from the main server.

The other common strategy is to employ a pop-up blocker. While many Internet service providers, and Internet browsers, already have this feature, it is also a staple of high speed dial-up service. Pop-up ads take up a great deal of bandwidth, especially those which employ Java™, or similar programs. Thus, they can substantially increase the amount of time it takes to load the desired page. Pop-up blockers help by preventing this process in the first place.

Potential subscribers should keep in mind that there are some things that high speed dial-up just cannot do. It cannot substantially increase speeds when downloading files, such as music or large attachments. It can also not speed up the downloading of many types of e-mail, or increase the speed of video streaming. Therefore, even with its advantages, there will still be some shortcomings in comparison to broadband.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Jan 06, 2015

@AnswerMan, I did get the high speed dial-up upgrade, and I wasn't as happy with it as I thought I would be. I wasn't ready financially to seek out DSL service providers, but I wanted something better than the free Internet access I already had at work. The high speed Internet provider I signed up with did deliver some things faster, like a standard search website, but I still had to wait forever for stuff like videos and graphics-heavy websites.

By AnswerMan — On Jan 05, 2015

I remember seeing ads for high speed dial-up service about the time I upgraded to a 56k modem. This was just before DSL and broadband Internet providers started accepting subscribers. I seriously considered switching to a high speed dial-up ISP, but then my phone company started offering DSL for about the same price.

I'm glad I didn't sign up for it, since it really wouldn't have addressed the biggest issues I had with standard dial-up service. I wanted a way to download music and video files faster, not just websites and online game programs.

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