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This page was written in the days (not long ago) when the normal method of connecting to the Internet was by a dialup modem. The advent of broadband means that the term Modem now means something very different. A Broadband modem is now normally supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they come in two main varieties - either for a BT land line type or one for a Cable system (e.g. Virgin Media). See Wikipedia Instead of being inside the computer the Modem is connected to a computer via an Ethernet port (or can be connected to a USB port).
All modern computers have this socket, which is slightly larger than the socket into which some of the older dialup modems were plugged.
Another piece of equipment may be supplied by your ISP and that is a Router. The Router's job is to sort out connections to several computers that use the same modem connection to the 'net'. Most of THESE routers also have a wireless aerial and can be used to connect to from wireless equipment. To make things (slightly) more complicated there are such things as a combined Router and Modem. The set up of these pieces of equipment is normally taken care of by software issued to you on disk by your ISP. If there is a problem it is best to get in touch with them. The one popular technique tried if your broadband modem is not making a connection is to reset it by disconnecting the power cable from the back, waiting a few seconds, then replacing that cable.
The rear of the router looks like this, showing the sockets to which a number of PCs can be attached with inexpensive Ethernet cables
If your computers are normally close together there is no need to venture into the mysteries of wireless and, in fact, cable connections are less liable to be 'hacked' (got into) from outside. It is even possible to purchase routers that do not have the wireless option.
WIRELESS. Setting up a wireless connection has always been my weakness. I have printed numerous instructions from the Netgear site and from magazines but have often been frustrated when it comes to connecting equipment such as a laptop, netbook or Kindle. I realise that there are security questions but it is a pity they couldn't make it as simple as attaching a wireless mouse. I was always concerned that resetting in the router attached to my desktop I might lose my internet connection altogether. NOT SO. The router remains connected regardless of whether the wireless is correctly set up. In my last (and most successful) attempt to reset my router and the password I followed this method for a Netgear WGR614v6 router.:
Back to dialup modems.....
V.44 is a compression standard that describes a new technique used to pack or compress the data before it travels to and from the modem. In present V.90 modems, data is compressed using a 10-year-old standard called V.42bis. V.44 provides better compression capabilities than V.42bis that results in faster transfer of data.
V.92 is a new international standard for analog modems that improves on the existing V.90 standard in three ways:
While I recommend that everyone goes onto Broadband these day - it is the only way to keep up to date with security - dialup modems have been developing. And the problem of old modems being incompatible with Vista has also been solved. These days you can add a new, faster modem to a Vista PC for £6.29 from Ebuyer (QF code 143292) This is a V44 modem. So, what is V44 ?
All of the capabilities of V.92 and V.44 will require an ISP 'head end' facility that supports V.92 and V.44. The head end is a device that your modem communicates with when you make a connection and go online. In the case of V.92 and V.44 deployment, the modems are generally available before the existing head ends are upgraded with the new capabilities. Head ends in the field are an essential part of an Internet service provider's business and these head ends must be equipped in a slow and careful manner in order to minimize any disruption in Internet service. Because of this, the availability of V.92 and V.44 compatible head ends will lag the availability of V.92 and V.44 compatible modems. Contact your Internet service provider for a specific timetable of V.92 and V.44 deployment.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the international body that develops and approves these standards, has stated that V.44 gives an improvement in compression of more than 25% beyond the existing V.42bis standard. Actual improvement will vary depending on the type of data that is being compressed. In the real world, the amount of packing (or compression) will vary depending upon the amount of redundancy that exists in a particular file. Some files are highly compressible and some are not.
V92 Allows you to take incoming calls while on line by putting the "modem on hold." This feature requires a call waiting service that is available from most local phone companies.
Uploading is always slower than downloading (this is particularly so with broadband) Current V.90 modems are limited to upstream data rates of 33.6 Kbits/sec. The new V.92 standard extends the upstream data rate to up from this to a theoretical maximum of 48 Kbits/sec.
End of article
Wireless connections ? Don't ask me, please ! But there are experts around who will supply the necessary equipment and advise you. For instance www.allwireless.co.uk of Leicester specialize in Wireless Technology & Home Automation and if you get stuck you can phone them on 0845 058 0504 and will get personal attention.
Quite a useful site on this at http://www.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/global/learn/network/index?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
Up until now this page has only dealt with dialup modems. However, with Broadband, dialup is ancient history, so I must steel myself to including broadband modems and routers.
The usual practice is for your Internet provider (ISP) to provide you with a broadband modem when you sign up for broadband services (see my page on this HERE) Although not very expensive for them - and you can get a BB modem for around £25 - they will probably want you to sign up for a year and may charge you if you leave during that contract.
There are two types of BB modem. One specifically works with a BT telephone line and the other works with cable e.g. a connection to a company like Virgin Media, who connect you from a cable which has been laid in the road in many parts of the country. They may be connected to your computer either by a cable which goes into a USB socket on the PC or, preferably, by a cheap Ethernet cable (a fiver from Woolworths). In the first instance the USB socket should , preferably, be the later, USB2 type. In the case of the Ethernet connection the PC must have an Ethernet socket, which looks very much like a dialup modem socket. See your PC manual.
A Router is a device that will sort out your connections to the net when you have more than one computer which you wish to connect via a single telephone or cable line. This will enable several people to be connected at the same time without any apparent degradation in speed or signal clash.
A router can have several sockets to which your computer can be attached using an Ethernet cable or it may connect wirelessly or may have both socket and wireless facilities. You still need a broadband modem or a slightly more expensive router which contains a modem.
The Installation of an Internal Modem This
section does not deal with Broadband.
I have had more problems installing internal modems than any other piece of hardware, often due to poor instructions with the supplied disk. Disks often contain drivers for a variety of modems and sometimes other software such as fax programs. Sorting through these is not always easy. Often there is no way to tell what type of modem you have. It might be Ambient Ham, Connexant, Motorola or one of several others.
There are two main types of Internal Modem called Hardware and Software, although they look much the same. The software modems are slightly cheaper than the hardware variety but are less likely to work with older and 'undernourished' computers as they are depending more on the PC for speed and memory. External modems are a safer bet with older PC's but are a little more expensive. At least with these you can see little lights when something (or nothing) is happening. But they require a bit more space on the desk and usually need another power socket. They use similar software drivers (but not identical) to internal modems
Although all Windows varieties since 95 should detect a modem when it has been fitted and look for the requisite software, a number of things can go wrong.
Normally, after installing a modem (internal or external) you will get a notice when you boot up 'Windows has detected a new communication device and is installing the software for it'. If it does not even say this then you have the problem that the machine is not aware of the modem's presence. Time to check connections, power and push the card home etc. - or wonder whether the modem is really alive and kicking. But even if the modem is recognised there can be (and usually are) problems. The main difficulty seems to be that the installation software is not intelligent enough to search all the likely places for the drivers. It will say it is looking in the least likely place, the 3.5" floppy disk. It is a long time since drivers appeared on there and you will not find a modem with a floppy disk in the kit. If you then put the driver CD in the drive and hit Enter the chances are the machine will just say, 'can't find such and such a file' and give up on you. It then proceeds to finish the installation and you hope that everything is ready. Unfortunately, when you come to use the Modem it can't be found. Reading the tiny little leaflet that has now replaced the massive manual that used to give every single command that the modem understands (and which meant nothing to the lay person) will give you very little clue what to do next. It probably is a general leaflet that comes with a variety of modems and you may find it difficult to decipher exactly what type it is. So, if you go back to Windows, Start, Settings, Control Panel, Modems and try to add a modem it will give you the chance to search for it - but wont find it. Then it will suggest that you can choose. But what ? You could try Standard modem. Older versions of Windows will suggest you could try a 28k version. It won't do you a lot of good because, if you are using an Internal modem it will tend to look for it on Serial 1 or Serial 2 ports. And your modem isn't connected to either, so it is back to square one. Looking into the System configuration (Start, (Settings), Control Panel, System) will probably show you a big yellow question mark against Communication Devices, meaning - guess what - it wont work. Worse than this, if you reboot the system it wont even say 'Windows has detected a new communication device and is installing the software for it', so you are really up a gum tree (which is precisely where koala bears like to be). So, take you courage in both hands and delete that nasty yellow marker. It is no good to you anyway. Now, go back to reboot and wait for ' Windows has detected etc...'
Now, when it looks for the software on the 3.5" drive opt to look elsewhere. Enter the D drive - or whatever is your CD drive - and click Next. With luck it will say 'Windows can't find such and such a file'. (but more likely 'Can't find a suitable driver'). Now start to search on the CD for that file. If you do know what make it is head for that. Otherwise it is trial and error. Each time you go to a folder for a modem type you should find Internal and External mentioned. Choose the right one. Still no file ? I thought not. Now look down the list for your Windows type, probably Win9x (which stands for Windows 95 and 98) If the file it is looking for appears in black in the list below you are making progress. Click Enter. If not, go back up until you can do the same all over again for each type until you find the file you are after. From then on it should be plain sailing and all the relevant files should be installed. Just to check, go into Start, Settings, Control Panel, Modems. Hopefully, the modem name is now sitting in the box. Click on it. If it is an internal modem it will probably be allocated to Com3 or Com4. This is a sign of success. But, just to check click the modem name and then the Diagnostic tab and Configuration. It will check for a few seconds than a list of commands that the modem understands will appear below. If not, you have failed once again!
Another way to try to force the PC to allocate the modem to a Com port is to disable the normal ones temporarily. This is done by going into the BIOS of the machine - usually by pressing the Del key at startup. Then look for the Com port settings, disable them and Save and Exit. If this helps to allocate the modem to a Com port you can then go back and unblock the Serial ports in the BIOS
Incidentally, of late I have found that many of the cheap modems have been of the Intel Ambient, Ham type, although they may be Connexant, which used to be called Rockwell, or may be Motorola. So try to use routes to these first when searching for drivers.
If all else fails you may have to obtain an external modem and connect it to one of the Com ports (or even a USB port) Modern ones have a cable with 9 pins, the older ones have 25) Providing you have the appropriate driver disk this should present fewer problems. If you have a modem and no driver disk throw it away ! Get another from www.ebuyer.com It saves tearing your hair out trying to find a driver on the internet.
One last thing; whilst Windows XP contains a large number of drivers for modems it can still present problems. If you find that the modem is not working well (or at all) with XP it may be that your XP has not yet got the appropriate driver. It may have installed the best it could, which could be a Win 2000 or ME version. In this case you should try to get the latest driver from your supplier or off the Internet. Intel provides some modem drivers for the Intel Ambient Ham chipset, which may be used by many modem manufacturers. Otherwise do a search for the company or go to one of the specialist Driver sites such as Drivers.com and see if they have an XP version. You can also try Microsoft Windows Update for drivers.
Once you have installed your modem you may find your are still having difficulties. A number of messages may appear when you try to connect to the Internet. Typical of these error messages is 'No dial tone' or 'Unable to find modem' or 'Engaged' In the case of the first it is a good idea to connect an ordinary telephone to the same socket and try dialing the number. If there is literally is no dial tone then you know that the problem lies along the line you are using to the BT (or other provider) socket. So check it, using a phone until you find where the blockage is. It may be the cable or the socket or the adapter or you may have connected the cable to the modem socket called Phone. Wrong ! It should be in the socket called Line. If you find there is a dial tone then the problem must be within the PC itself but, if you have set up the modem and checked it using the Modem diagnostics, this is unlikely to happen. If the second message - can't find the modem - comes up then your problem is with that modem or with the setup with Internet Explorer or AOL (or Netscape). Your ISP connection has to be set to address the modem on the same port (Com 1, 2, 3 or 4) to which it has been allocated.
If you are getting through to the Internet and think that the connection
is too slow there are one or two things you should look at. You can check
the connection speed by clicking on the small screen icons bottom right
(not AOL). A 56k modem rarely exceeds 49k transfer rate but if it is
substantially below this it may be due to line quality (or it may be due
to your line being shared). If your line is shared it is likely you will
always get a 28k connection. There is no way that you can tell
whether BT has given you a shared line without asking them. They are no longer
installing this technology and you should ask them to give you a dedicated
line because of your problem. If you want to check the speed of your connection
go to www.bandwidthspeedtest.com
There is also a program from www.tweakmaster.com which is on 30 day trial. This enables you to maximise the speed of your equipment by making certain choices. These changes can be reversed if no improvement is forthcoming. It also has an option that will prevent you from being disconnected from your ISP if you haven't used it for a while.
Even a £10 modem is intelligent enough to reduce your speed in
adverse conditions in order that you receive quality data. Check line
quality by attaching a telephone to the line and pressing any telephone button.
You should hear - nothing. If there is noise on the line then
that is the cause of the problem. You should ensure that you have as good
a connection within the house to the main telephone socket as you can get,
with as few adapters in between as possible. If you want a telephone
next to your computer try to connect it to the back of the modem in the socket
called Phone. Do not have this phone off the hook when using the modem, except
to check what is happening (for instance you may wish to check if your ISP
number is literally engaged).
If your connection gets dropped frequently even when you are using the PC to interrogate the Internet it may be a problem caused by your ISP but it also may be due to line quality. Apart from the cabling within your home it may be a fault of the telephone company. Cabling and connections in the road or on overhead lines or in the telephone exchange may be inferior. You can ask your telephone company to check this and also ask if they can increase the 'gain' on your line - make it louder. If you complain enough they might even dig up the path and try to improve your connection but I have heard that BT charges for this.
Lastly, if you have "Call Waiting" set up on your telephone and someone calls this will interrupt you internet connection. So, if it is a frequent problem disable the call waiting setup.
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