What Is Dial-Up Connection?

By Kelly Sundstrom

In computer networking and Internet terms, a dial-up connection is a method of connecting a computer with another device. Using standard telephone line service, this type of connection is commonly found in use as a way for a personal computer to connect into the Internet in locations where high-speed Internet access is not available but telephone service is. This type of connection is called dial-up because the initiating device, usually an Internet user's personal computer, will literally pick up the telephone line signal and dial up the telephone number of a receiving device, usually an Internet-connected modem.

Why is it Called "Dial-Up Connection"?

Dial-up connections are a connection between two devices using standard telephone service. When this connection is initiated, it is done so by a device that picks up a regular telephone line. It picks up the line and listens for a dial tone. Once it hears a dial tone, it dials a standard telephone number of the receiving device, which is also connected to a regular telephone line. So, it is called dial-up because the devices literally dial each other up to connect.

Uses of a Dial Up Connection

Dial-up connections are found almost any place that telephone lines and computers coexist. It is also used by credit card processing equipment, electronic bulletin boards, email machines, serial networks and more.

Speed of dial up connections

The condition of the telephone line has a lot to do with the maximum speed of the dial up connection. Under optimal circumstances, a 56kbps throughput can be maintained. Real world speeds typically vary between 18kbps and 48kbps.

Dial Up Connection providers

The service needed in order to dial-up connect to the Internet is available from many sources. Free services can sometimes be found, along with pay services like AOL, MSN, Earthlink and other ISP companies.

Comparison of speeds

Dial-up connections can connect at a speed up to 56kbps, whereas DSL or cable Internet service can today reach speeds of 20,000kbps.