Dial-Up vs. Ethernet for Credit Card Terminals

Let’s imagine you’re driving your car and all of a sudden it stops. You might be inclined to immediately assume the cause of the problem is a defect in the manufacturing of the car, like the engine.

But what if the problem isn’t the vehicle? You could have just run out of gas.

This same principal applies to your credit card terminal; while there are numerous issues that can result from your terminals hardware these are not the only issues that you should worry about.

Going back to the car analogy, your terminals communication network is like the gas that powers your credit card processing terminal. The two most common communications methods are Ethernet and Dial. A Dial connection is sent over phone lines, whereas an Ethernet connection processes over high speed internet.

We could delve into the specifics as to how the information is processed over each of these communications, but since Dial is such an outdated protocol that really wouldn’t do much good.

What you should know is that an Ethernet connection is going to be much stronger and more reliable for any merchant.

Why dial is slow

When the dial communication system was put in place it was used primary for phones, and had spotty coverage. Remember Paul Marcarelli, “Can you hear me now?” While the networks have increased their reliability, the network is still not strong enough to send all the information transmitted, especially in an EMV chip transaction.

We find that merchants who are processing over a dial connection often witness frequent interruptions during the authorization period, which can led to the terminal returning a false authorization or declining the transaction.

Additionally, the time that it takes to run a transaction over dial communications is significantly longer. Finally, with a dial connection, settling your batch will take more time, especially if it is a large batch- which we hope it is!

When you should choose dial

Dial is a great backup in the event that your main network goes down or experiences an interruption. It is preferable to have a backup cellular modem or purchase a terminal with built in cellular service to maintain the best uptime.

Bottom line, would you drive your Tesla in the slow lane? No, so don’t do it with your terminal!

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