NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In a world of always-on, fast Internet connections, it's difficult to believe that there are still a surprising number of Americans who use a dial-up connection to surf the Web.
According to Pew Research, in 2012, 65% of Americans had broadband connections in their homes, while 3% had dial-up connections. In 2000, those numbers were reversed -- 65% connected via dial-up while only 3% had broadband connections.
Although it is only a small percentage of overall users, 3% translates into a substantial number unwilling or unable to access higher-speed Web offerings such as fast downloads or streaming music files and videos.
There are still a handful of familiar names offering dial-up service including AOL (AOL - Get Report), AT&T (T - Get Report), EarthLink (ELNK - Get Report) and United Online (UNTD) (brands include Juno, NetZero and Kmart's BlueLight). Although user statistics have remained constant over the past two years, AOL has been raising some prices for its estimated 3 million dial-up customers to cover increased costs of keeping the service up and running.AOL shares were gaining 0.86% to $34.10 on Thursday in New York. Pew reports that price seems to be the main reason people stick with dial-up service. Although unlimited dial-in is listed as free, AOL offers three tiers of service ranging from $10-$26 per month. That's in addition to what the local telephone company charges each time a connection is dialed-up as well as how long that connection lasts. There were no statistically notable differences tied to community-type meaning rural, city and and suburban dwellers are equally likely to use a dial-up connection at home. Hispanics, at 5%, are the most likely ethnic group to dial-in compared with 3% of white and 1% of black users. Other potential customers complain they can't get a broadband connection where they live. Local phone and service providers say they live too far away to be wired for a DSL, cable or fiber-optic connection. For friends who live a few miles outside of Dayton, Ohio, the only option available is an Internet connection via satellite which is affected by the weather and ultimately very slow and very expensive.