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Getting the most out of your 56k/V.90/V.92 connection!

Introduction:
While we will continue to update our modem systems with the most current upgrades available, members may also want to update their system's modem driver, from their computer/modem's mfg., for the best possible connectivity. We recommend checking with your computer or modem's mfg. to see if any updates are available for your modem.

An outdated or incorrect driver can cause many problems when connecting. Errors such as "Computer you're dialing is not answering" may not be uncommon. Older 56K/v.90 drivers can also cause lags in being able to download web pages. Finally, incompatible modem drivers can cause disconnects. YHTI uses only 100% digital 56K/v.92 modems and phone lines in all of our communities so we are doing all that is possible to make sure you get the best connection rate possible.

Table of Contents:


Help! My 56K modem connects at 33.6 or less!

Treat this as a troubleshooting matrix. Go through all of these steps, and you will have a better chance of solving your problems with slow connections.

THE OBVIOUS STUFF

We hate to ask, but did you check the obvious things?

    Make sure that you dial the phone number that corresponds to the same 56K protocol your modem uses. 56K requires that both ends use the same kind of 56K technology (x2, K56flex, or V.90). Despite what you may have heard, V.90 is not the same as x2 or K56flex. It is a third and distinct 56K protocol. Our Access Number page will let you know what technology we use in your area. Access Numbers

THE EASY ANSWERS

Things that are easy to try even if you don't know much about computers. Don't skip this section, because these fixes often work.

    If there is a telephone, answering machine, etc., plugged into the back of the modem, unplug it from the back of the modem. The modem is supposed to ignore devices plugged into it when it is online, but that is not always the case. Try disconnecting additional telephony devices (fax, phones, answering machines, alarm systems, etc.) from the phone line, even if they're in a different room. We've heard from users whose connect speeds jumped 10K when they unplugged a fax machine or cordless phone in another room. Also try running the phone line directly from the back of the modem to the wall, without passing through surge suppressors, spliters, phone line extenders, etc. This is a basic and useful step in modem troubleshooting.

MODERATELY DIFFICULT ANSWERS

These require slightly more computer skill.

    It's always a good idea to check with your computer/modem manufacturer to see if there is a more recent firmware update available for your modem and to get directions on how to install it. If you do not have a computer manufacturer to turn to, try checking out the following webpage for firmware updates. Many people's problems have disappeared once they installed a new version of the firmware. Visit the inits and drivers page to see if there is an init string or better yet a driver for your modem. The inits and drivers page includes installation instructions. Our support team will not be able to walk you through a hardware change, such as a modem update, so make sure to read all of the directions you find. Sometimes it may help to disable the V.90 protocol on your modem. Visit the V.90 disable init website to get a list of the init strings you can try with your type of modem.

OR MAYBE IT'S YOUR PHONE LINE

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but it may not be your modem or inside phone lines at all.

It may be that the phone lines in your immediate neighborhood don't support 56K

As explained in the Basics section of the 56K Primer, multiple digital/analog conversions will prevent the use of 56K technology and limit your modem to V.34 speeds (a maximum of 33.6K).

How to find out for sure if your phone lines support 56K

This is the only reliable way I know of to test your phone lines: borrow a known good 56K modem and try it with your phone lines. By "known good 56K modem," I mean a modem that has connected at speeds higher than 33.6. Remember that connects speeds of 38400, 57600, and 115200 aren't true connect speeds, so they don't count.

If it's an internal modem, have your friend bring the whole computer to your house. In fact, it's easier that way, because his computer will already be configured for his modem. Let him use your monitor, keyboard, and mouse so he won't have to cart them over to your house.

If you can only borrow the modem, be sure to get the disks that came with the modem so you can install the drivers for that modem. You'll have to install the modem and drivers. Be sure to select the modem in your dialing software (such as Windows 95 Dial-Up Networking or Apple's PPP for Open Transport). Instructions are on the Inits and Drivers page.

Once the modem is at your house, call their ISP. How fast is the connection? You can also try calling YHTI, if your friend's modem uses the same 56K protocol supported by YHTI in your town (x2, K56flex, or V.90).

More about multiple digital/analog conversions, and what to do about them

Office PBX systems generally create an extra A/D conversion. How do you know if you're on a PBX? If you have to dial a number (usually 9 in the U.S.) to dial an outside line, you're on a PBX. If your phone has its own extension, you're on a PBX. The solution in that case is to plug the modem into a direct outside line. The office fax machine is usually dialed into a direct outside line, so try that.

The phone lines outside of your building may have equipment that introduces extra A/D conversions. Non-integrated SLCs (subscriber line concentrators) are one source. If that's the case, there's little you can do except to call the phone company and complain. Before you get your hopes up, be aware that the phone company is generally not sympathetic, and only guarantees speeds of 9600 baud or so (the exact answer will vary from telco to telco). It is worth a shot, though, and some people have managed to get their phone company to re-route the lines.


Even if I don't connect at 56K, I'm guaranteed 33.6, right?

No. In fact, even if you and YHTI were using only 33.6 modems, you still wouldn't be guaranteed 33.6 connects. Few people get 33.6 connects. A large number get 28800 or 31200 connects, but many people only connect at 26400, 24000, or even slower. The phone lines in some areas simply can't support higher speeds.

If you'd like to try improving the speed, make sure you have the latest firmware and drivers/settings files. Also, try passing the phone line directly from the back of the modem to the phone outlet on the wall. Passing the phone line through surge protectors, phones, answering machines, etc., can sometimes been responsible for slow connects.

Again, though, your phone lines may simply not support higher speeds.


I'm connecting at 38400, 57600, or 115200. Or am I?

No. Those speeds are computer-to-modem speeds (AKA DTE speeds or port speeds) that you set in your software. What you want to know is the modem-to-modem speed (AKA connect speed or DCE speed).

  Your    <-DTE Speed->  Your   <-DCE Speed->  Remote
Computer                 Modem                 Modem


How can I get my modem to report the true connect speed?

For Windows 95 Dial-Up Networking and Apple's PPP for Open Transport

You must install the correct drivers for your modem. For instance, you would need to the correct .inf file for Windows 95 Dial-Up Networking, or the correct CCL file for Apple's PPP for Open Transport. The drivers interpret the result code from the connection and translate it into a connect speed. Without the driver, you won't get an accurate connect speed. These may have been included on a disk with the modem. If not, check the 56K.COM Inits and Drivers page, which has links to downloadable drivers and instructions for installing the drivers.

For other programs that do not use driver files

According to 3Com/U.S. Robotics, any init string that includes AT&F1 should report the true connect speed.

For most Rockwell-based 28.8 and K56flex units, the command is W2. (For Rockwell-based PCI modems, the command is MR=2.) However, several commands can override W2, including the S95 commands and the &Q commands. If W2 doesn't have the desired effect, you might try adding S95=0 or S95=1 to the init string.

 


What are typical connect speeds for 56K modems?

As with 33.6 modems, your results will depend heavily on your phone lines. Typically, 42-46K for K56flex and anywhere from 44-52K for x2 is good performance. Some people are getting better results, some are getting worse.


Is initial connect speed all it's cracked up to be?

Initial connect speed is a convenient benchmark, but it can be deceiving. V.34 and 56K modems can and do shift their speeds up and down during the course of the call to respond to changing line conditions. Some modems connect very aggressively at high speeds, but are then forced to lower their speed to a more stable level. Others may connect conservatively and upshift.

The best test is to download a compressed file with FTP (See section bellow).


What's a good way to test actual modem performance? (FTP downloads)

If done correctly, file downloads are a good way to test modem performance. The trick is to make sure you're really testing the modem's raw transfer rate, and not some other factor that you're not aware of. Here are some guidelines for download testing:

1. USE AN FTP PROGRAM
Web browsers often lie about download rates. FTP is more reliable. Note that some FTP programs reports download speeds in Kilobits per second (Kbps), while others use Kilobytes per second (KBps). To convert, multiply Kilobytes per second by 10 (eight bits plus the start bit and stop bit). (V.42 error correction strips out the start bit and stop bit, but adds other overhead, so multiplying by nine may be more accurate.) A valid alternative to FTP is a terminal program that supports Zmodem.

2. DOWNLOAD A PRE-COMPRESSED .ZIP OR .SIT FILE
If the file you download isn't compressed, hardware data compression in the modem will kick in, leading to erroneous results. Different file types compress to different degrees, so if you download a Microsoft Word file and I download a QuickTime movie, there's no way to compare the results. Use .zip (PKZip/WinZip) or .sit (StuffIt) files for your tests. Some file formats (GIF, JPEG, QuickTime, etc.) offer some compression, but can sometimes be compressed further by hardware protocols.

3. DOWNLOAD A FILE THAT'S AT LEAST 200K
A file size of at least 200K will minimize the effects of TCP/IP slow start.

4. DOWNLOAD FROM YOUR LOCAL FTP SERVER OR UNIX DIRECTORY
A local server is one that's on your system, not on the other side of the Internet. If you download a file from across the Internet, you're testing your ISP's connectivity to the Internet just as much as you're testing your modem.



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