About modems and modem problems

What modem should I buy

Are software modems better then hardware modems?

If I choose to buy one of the cheaper software modems, what modem should I buy?

My modem reports no dial tone what should I do?

I keep  getting disconnected from the internet, what can I do to fix this?


What modem should I buy?

The following modems work best on our system:

Hardware Modems:

     US Robotics Modems
     Zoom Modems
     Creative Modem Blaster Modems

The following Software Modems  (these are the chipsets, modem brand names may differ)

     Lucent Win Modem (driver version 5.55 - 5.70 and 5.82 - 6.00) [Windows ME computers comes with 5.79]
     US Robotics Win Modem

Modems which we would NOT recommend using or buying.

     HSP Chipset Modems (PCTEL) [comes with many Compaq's and E-Machines]
     ESS Chipset Modems.
     Cirrius (Ambient or Intel) chipset based modems.
     Motorola Chipset (SM56k)
     Conexant HCF Chipset modems ( Some Dells, Gateway and other computers have these installed).
     Global Village Modems (Macintosh Modem)

Are software modems better then hardware modems?

As a general rule, hardware modems outperform and have less problems then software modems.  Here are some links that explain the
difference and the pro and cons of software modems.


If  I choose to buy one of the cheaper software modems, what modem should I buy?

     Lucent chipset based Win Modems (with the latest drivers the early drivers didn't work well) and
     US Robotics (sometimes sold as 3Com) win modems seem to work best of the software based modems.

My modem reports no dial tone. What should I do?

Most of the time this is due to an Electrical Storm, bad drivers,  misconfiguration in the modem, or telephone line problems (miswired or telephone company problem).

     Electrical Storms can cause a power surge in the telephone line just as easy as in an electrical line.  Since telephone devices cannot have as many variations in voltage, especially
     the modem, telephone line voltage surges can cause problems more commonly.  Check this site for more information:  http://www.808hi.com/56k/lightning.htm
     Bad Drivers can cause no dial tone.  Most of the time though, if this problem just started happening you may have changed or upgraded the drivers.
     Miswired telephone lines and/or telephone company problems.  Check to see if your telephone line is getting dial-tone to the computer.  Make sure your computer has the
     telephone line plugged from the wall to the modem jack that says either telco, line, or has a picture other than a phone.  If the telephone line does not get dial tone, then the
     problem is either in your household telephone lines, or the telephone company.

I keep getting disconnected from the Internet, what can I do to fix this?

There are several reasons a modem disconnects.  Here are three things to check:

   1.Are you getting disconnected only when you check your email?
   2.Are you getting disconnected after a long period of Modem inactivity when you are not send and receiving new data?  (i.e. reading a web page or email message.)
   3.Are you getting disconnected at random?  It doesn't matter if you are reading an email/web-page, or downloading a file/web-page/email, or playing an online game.

1. If you are disconnected right after either checking your email or sending a new message and you use one of the following programs:

Other email programs may do this as well. If you are using a different email program, please consult the program's help and/ documentation.

Depending on your email program do the following:


2. If you are idle for 15 minutes, our system will disconnect you.  This means, if you are reading a long email, detailed web-page, or had physically left the computer,
          our system senses inactivity and will disconnect you.  This is done to free up a telephone line for others to use the internet, and to avoid unintentionaly tieing up
           the only telephone line of customers with a single line..

          NOTE: If you are getting disconnected after 20 minutes of downloading a file, this is a problem with Windows and to fix it, follow the directions below:

          For Internet Explorer 4.0x click on Start | settings | Control Panel then on Internet Options and then the Connection Tab.  Click on settings then Un-check
          Disconnect if idle for so (many minutes).

          For Internet Explorer 5.0x:  click on Start | settings | Control Panel then on Internet Options and then the Connection Tab. Click on settings then the advanced
          button.  Uncheck Disconnect if idle for so (many minutes).
3. Dropped connections, not related to the above problems, can occur if a modem gets a sharp decrease in line quality, line noise, weather, bad modem
          drivers/software/firmware, or just a bad modem.  If the problem just started happening, chances are there was a decrease in line quality (added noise to the
          telephone line, static)

              a)  Sharp Decrease in Telephone Line quality or Line noise (static).   Line noise can cause a loss of connection and is not easily noticed. Pick up your phone, dial
          a single number except "0". Now listen very close. Do you hear any noise in the line whatsoever? Any noise other than silence, can cause the modem to drop
          connection randomly. High speed Internet connections require you to have a very clear telephone line.
          If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact the phone company and have them check the line.  As a helpful hint, before calling the phone company,
          they may not come out if it is a Internet Related modem problem.  They only guarantee a 14.4kbps connection or depending on who you ask, they give no guarantee
        or only 2.4 kbps. There are a few things to check before calling the phone company to make sure the problem is not in your house's wiring.
        First, unplug all telephones or telephone line devices in your house except the computer.   Try the internet and see if that helps.
         If it doesn't, run a long telephone cord from your computer to your Network Interface Box outside your house
        (See the front ofyour telephone book under "Repair").      Try the Internet again and see if that helps, if it doesn't, the problem probably lies with the telephone
         companies wiring and you  should contact them. If the problem occurs only sometimes or sometimes of day be sure to mention that the problem is intermittent

              b)  If the above doesn't help, and your telephone line seems clear, you may need to find out what kind of modem you have.  To do this, click on Start from your
          desktop, settings, control panel, then on Modems.  This should list what modem you are using.  Next, click on the diagnostics tab, then, click on the com port
          that says your modem after it.  Click on more info.  Look for the ati3 setting and it should give you the driver version of the modem.  Below lists the latest driver
          versions for particular modems and what drivers work the best with our server.  Updating the modem, usually works if none of the above problems exists.  If you
          have the updated driver and the modem still is having disconnect problems, try disabling 56k. For a complete listing of modems and disable 56k codes, and
          directions for inserting the codes, click on the following link:  http://www.808hi.com/56k/trouble2.htm

                  1) Lucent LT Winmodem - (Sometimes include with computers from: Hewlett Packard, Dell, Older Compaq's (Compaq 56DF & 56VSC Modem) - For a More
          Complete List go to http://808hi.com/56k/ltwin7.htm).
          - Drivers that works well are versions 5.70 and 5.82 and above.  Driver Versions 5.75 through 5.79 tend to not work well.  To update your modem with the latest
          generic driver go to http://808hi.com/56k/ltwin7.htm . Some cases updating the modem version will change the modem name. To make sure dialup networking is
          configured correctly, on your main screen double click on My Computer, then Double click on Dialup Networking, click once on the dialup networking
          connection that you use then click on file and properties.
          - Disable 56k Codes are: -V90s38=0 or s38=0 or -v90=0

                  2) Rockwell HCF Modem (Sometimes included with computers from: Compaq's, Dell, Gateway and Micron.  - For a More Complete List go to
          - Drivers that work better are versions and above.
          - Disable 56k V90 Codes are: +ms=v34

                  3) USR Robotics (aka 3Com) - (Sometimes included in computers from: Dell, Gateway, Micron, and most high end systems.
          - Drivers that work well are Most of the drivers or firmware.  To see if US Robotic has an update follow this link:  http://www.usr.com/support/s-main-menu.asp
          - Disable 56k Codes are: S32=66 or S32=98

                  4) HSP MicroModem - (Sometimes included with some computers from: Compaq's, Emachines, and Hewlett Packard. - For a More Complete List go to
          - Drivers that work well - NONE  Click on this link for more information  http://808hi.com/56k/badchips.htm . Sometimes updating the drivers work, updated drivers
            are located at http://www.808hi.com/56k/pctel.htmhttp://www.pctel.com/downloads/drivers_download.htm...
          - Disable 56k Codes are: n0s37=12

                  5) Motorola (SM56) - (Sometimes included with computers from: Compaq's, Emachines, Hewlett Packard and other low end systems.
          - Drivers that work well - NONE  Click on this link for more info http://808hi.com/56k/badchips.htm . Sometimes updating the drivers work, updated drivers are
          located at:  http://www.motorola.com/networking/products/sm56_pci_software_modem/drivers.html
          - Disable 56k Codes are:  *MM12  or  +MS=V34

                  6) Other Modems that are not listed here and some more instructions for the modems listed here, click on this link:  http://www.808hi.com/56k/trouble.htm

          c) If the above doesn't help, you may have a bad modem, I suggest having the modem looked at if your modem is a HSP, Motorola, or IBM Mwave modem.  A new
          modem may be what you need., US Robotics (3COM), or Lucent chipset based Win Modem  modems work well with Blacksburg.Net.

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