56k Modem FAQ

Article ID: 54


Q: Why won't my 56k modem connect at 56k?
A: Due to current FCC regulations, the highest possible 56k modem download speed is 53k. 56k modem download speeds are dependent on three variables, modem brand/quality, firmware revision, and line quality. Most people connect at 40-50k.
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Q: Why does my modem connect at 115.2k or 57.6k?
A: Some poorly written modem drivers report the speed your computer is communicating with the modem rather than the speed your modem is communicating with your ISP. With current V.90 modem technology, it is not possible to connect above 53k. Most people connect at 40-50k.
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Q: Why do I connect to AOL at 57.6k but at a lower rate with Infinity Internet?
A: AOL's proprietary software often does not report the actual speed of the connection. AOL's software often just display's a generic 57.6k or 115.2k connection speed, which does not represent the true modem speed. The more cynical among us have suggested that AOL does this to cut down on tech support calls since it can be so difficult to determine the true connection speed.
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Q: How can I improve my connection to Infinity Internet?
A: First, upgrade your firmware. For more information, see the firmware section. Using alternate dialup numbers may also help. Click here to see a list of Infinity Internet's dialup numbers. If all else fails, try a different modem.
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Q: I just bought my modem, why do I need to upgrade it?
A: Even a "new" modem has most likely been sitting in an overseas warehouse for quite some time. Firmware upgrades are updated regularly by most reputable modem manufacturers. We recommend that you check back with your modem manufacturer on a regular basis for firmware updates.
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Q: What problems can be caused by using old modem firmware?
A: Slower connection speeds, trouble connecting, and disconnections.
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Q: How much does it cost to upgrade my modem firmware?
A: Nothing. Most modem manufactures do not charge for modem firmware updates.
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Q: But what if my 56k modem doesn't use firmware?
A: All 56k modems use firmware. Some manufactures may call their firmware "modem upgrades" or "modem drivers" instead of calling it firmware.
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Q: Do I need any special equipment or training to upgrade firmware?
A: No. Most manufactures provide simple downloadable programs that you run on your computer to update your modem with the latest code. If you need help, please call Infinity Internet technical support and someone can step you through the process.
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Q: I have a 56k modem and I connect at a high rate but I'm only getting 3-5k download rates. Why?
A: 56k is measured in kilobits per second, not kilobytes per second. Your web browser displays download rates in kilobytes per second. There are eight bits in one byte. A 3-5 kilobyte download is actually the equivalent of a 24-40 kilobits per second download speed.
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Q: I have a 56k modem and I connect at a high rate but my download rate is still lower than 3-5k and I get lots of lag.
A: You maybe connecting at a rate higher than your telephone line can handle. Many times people connecting at 48-53k will find an improved connection by lowering the initial speed of their connection slightly. This can be accomplished by adding commas at the end of your dialup telephone number or using an AT initialization string to set the initial connection speed lower.
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Q: Why do I get a good connection to one ISP and a bad connection to another?
A: There are a few possible reasons for this. It could be that your modem is more compatible with one >ISP than another. Another possibility is the way the telephone company is routing your call could be different from one phone number to another. If the routing is different then line quality is likely to be different as well. Infinity Internet tries to maintain at least two dialup numbers in each area with different telcos to compensate for these line quality variations.
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Q: Is it possible that it's Infinity Internet's lines that are bad and not mine?
A: Support for 56k modems requires that ISPs install digital PRI trunks on their end of the connection. These phone lines are at a much higher quality than standard analog phone lines. As a result, the analog phone line (the phone line to your home) is almost always the weakest part of the connection.
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Q: Is there any difference in the quality of all these different 56k modems?
A: Definitely. As with so many other things, it's a "you get what you pay for" situation. Cheap generic modems with poor or non-existent support tend to have the most problems. If you are looking to buy a 56k modem, make sure you buy a modem from a major manufacturer. We recommend modems manufactured by Zoom, Diamond/Supra, and US Robotics (V.90 upgraded). Avoid any modem using a PC Tel or Rockwell HCF chipset or modems manufactured by Hayes or Motorola. And, if possible, stay away from "Winmodems" (although Lucent LT Winmodems are ok). If you already have a modem that you've been having a problem with and you've tried all the troubleshooting steps, you should consider purchasing a higher quality modem.
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