Some stick with old-fashioned, noisier path to the Internet -- Gazette.Net


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The days of waiting and hearing the somewhat irritating modem-connection sound to get on the Internet are over for many businesses.

But a few still stick to the old ways, opting for a less expensive dial-up feed to the Internet, rather than high-speed broadband service.

Mr. Tire, a chain that provides auto repair and tire sales — owned by Rochester, N.Y.-based Monro Muffler Brake — uses dial-up at least for sites in Frederick and Gaithersburg, according to recent visits. An employee at a Gaithersburg shop referred a reporter to a company spokeswoman, who said Mr. Tire executives declined to comment.

Russ Rotruck, president at Midas Total Car Care, which owns shops in Gaithersburg, Rockville and Germantown, said his sites use high-speed Internet from Comcast. He didn’t know of any businesses using dial-up.

There could be a wide array of reasons why an individual shop might use dial-up service, including the lack of availability of high-speed alternatives and cost, said Marta Gates, director of operations for the Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Automotive Repair Association.

“That is a personal decision for the business owner,” Gates said. “It could be the availability of DSL, broadband or other internet providers in his area. It could be the cost is prohibitive. It could be that the owner is set in his ways and prefers dial-up.”

Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, said he knew of a few retailers still using dial-up but not many.

“Most retailers have moved into some sort of faster Internet access,” he said.

But in other areas, particularly rural ones, access is an issue, as is cost, with some businesses still struggling, said Donoho and Ellen Valentino, Maryland director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

“It’s a fairly new technology,” Valentino said. “Some could be set in their ways, and for others, it could be about money.”

In a survey released last year by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, some 65 percent of respondents said they used broadband at home, while only 6 percent used dial-up Internet access.

The average monthly cost for dial-up Internet was about $22, almost half the average cost of broadband, according to the FCC.

AT&T still has some small-business customers in Maryland on dial-up, but not many, said Audrey Chang, a company spokeswoman. The fastest download speeds available with dial-up is more than 10 times slower than the slowest speed of DSL, she said.

kshay@gazette.net