There was a time where we all connected this way. Originally, Internet content was all text and file sizes were small. It is the cheapest and simplest form of Internet connection, but if you are online, your phone line is tied up and no voice calls are possible.
Some still only have the option of dial-up services in rural areas where the ISPs are unwilling to invest in high speed services.
DSL works across the telephone line but needs better quality copper line, a special modem at the user end and equipment at the other end which can work with the split signals.
Cable has its own dedicated lines, and is generally faster that DSL, having more download capability.
The biggest myth is "I only do email and surf a little bit, so I don't need a fast connection"
WRONG.. unless you don't mind waiting forever to get mail or for web pages to display. You have also forgotten the updates that come down the line to patch up the operating system, programs etc.
On the Internet, you need all the help that you can get. The 'lite' connections are slow coming down and mindlessly slow going up.
Going UP is the direction your photos take on the way to Picasa, Facebook and Skydrive, by the way.
Yes, faster connections cost more, but you do get something back for your cash. It's called 'peace'..