Recently CNN covered news that AOL still has 2.1 million subscribers to their dialup service. The AOL quarterly report says that the average user is paying $20.83 per month. Thats over $500 million a year people are paying AOL for dialup. Wow.
I am betting that a lot of those AOL users basically feel 'stuck' with AOL because they have an AOL email address that they don't want to change. Maybe, I'm just guessing. I know that was a problem some people had in the past, but its been so many years I don't know. Seems from a quick look at the AOL site that you can get free email there with an @aol.com address.
I'm sure other people are unfortunately not able to get hi speed internet so they only use dialup. I'm guessing most of those people are covered by some form of cell phone service and would likely be better off just getting a cell phone plan to give them internet at home. You can get a mobile hotspot from RedPocket for $23 and pay for $10 for 1GB of data.
But there are still homes without cell phone coverage as well. If there are no cell or high speed internet options available then dialup may be the only cheap option.
Satellite internet should be available across most of the nation. HughesNet and DISH offer satellite internet services. If you want fast internet and can't get cable or DSL then this might be a reasonable option for you. However they do cost $40-50 a month and may have expensive installation and equipment fees in the range of $250 or more.
You can get free dialup or at least cheaper service. Juno and Netzero both have free dialup for up to 10 hours a month. They also have pay service for about $14 monthly which at least is cheaper than AOL. I see no reason you can't sign up for both Juno and Netzero free plans and get 20 hours total between them.
So this gives a few options:
1. cell phone service from RedPocket for $10 / 1GB
2. satellite internet for $40-50 a month
3. free or cheaper dialup service from Juno or Netzero
Depending on your needs I am sure that one of these is a better option than paying $20 average monthly to AOL.