Death of Internet Providers in Cleveland Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
The Internet was founded in the late 1980’s, but it wasn’t until 1991 that it became commercially available. Once it did, the gold rush of technology exploded. Internet Service Providers began popping up en masse.
Even though users were limited to dial-up connections using their home telephone lines, and nobody really knew what to do with this crazy internet thing, sign up they did. Companies like AOL, Juno, Compuserve, and a host of others who didn’t exist a year earlier were suddenly making millions. Email was the new craze and the crackling and popping of 56k modems could be heard almost as ubiquitiously as AOL’s “you’ve got mail” audio clip.
In addition to the AOL’s of the world, there were a ton of regional Internet Service Providers springing into existence. They served the people in their communities who didn’t want to deal with the big box internet shops. Internet providers in Cleveland were no exception. Before we became N2Net, we were known as New Age Consulting Service, Inc., and competed with APK.net, GWIS, and Buckeye Internet Services along with a myriad of other, smaller providers.
During the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, internet providers in Cleveland were mainly focused on providing dial-up Internet access. People signed up in droves simply because the door was open and ready to serve. At an average subscription of $20/mo per account, it didn’t take long for a lot of Internet providers in Cleveland to start raking in the cash, some exceeding one million dollars per year in dial-up revenue alone.
Like any bubble, the dial-up internet bubble had to pop at some point. Several internet providers in Cleveland, like New Age Consulting Service, saw the inevitable and started making plans to stay ahead of the curve. Others saw the bubble about to burst and decided to either ride the wave until it did, or sell quick and get out with the cash they’d already made.
Broadband services like DSL and Cable were the needles that popped the bubble. The big telephone and cable companies now had control of the phone lines and could provision home users with blazing fast speeds compared to what they’d experienced with dial-up. Because of FCC net neutrality laws, the phone companies were forced to allow smaller regional ISP’s the ability to resell their DSL services. While many tried, most failed. The DSL profit margins were much lower than dial-up, and while many fought the good fight, when it was all said and done, few remained.
Like most major cities, internet providers in Cleveland hadn’t gone completely the way of the dodo bird. Some of the bigger regional players acquired and absorbed competitors while transitioning their products and services to commercial rather than residential services.
Founded in 1995, N2Net remains as one of Cleveland’s oldest regional ISP’s, and while the business now focuses on serving commercial clients with Voice over IP services, N2Net still provides dedicated internet access and DSL service to local businesses. Believe it or not, there is even a small number of rural customers still using good old dial-up service!
The death of Cleveland internet providers has been exaggerated indeed. There are still a few of us around, and we look forward to serving our clients for many more years to come.
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