Here are some common causes of dialup connection issues, and how you can resolve them.
If your connection is excessively slow or frequently dropped, you may have some line noise problems. See the section below pertaining to line noise. You should always have the latest firmware for your modem, especially if you have a 56K modem. Firmware updates are done to fix common problems with modem connections. Failing to keep your firmware current is a major cause of "it used to work and now it doesn't" problems. ISPs upgrade their firmware on their communications servers very regularly to keep up with newer model modems; be sure your modem keeps up, too. Contact your modem's manufacturer for more information. Or, you may simply need to configure your modem differently by using a modem initialization string, which is an easy thing to try. If you don't know anything about initialization strings, you can contact your modem's manufacturer for more information.
- Line Noise -- By far the most common cause of being abruptly disconnected from the internet is line noise or interference. Even if your phone line "sounds OK" when talking over it, your modem is many times more sensitive to line conditions and can be severely affected by poor line conditions. Following are some well known (and very common) things that may cause unwanted line noise inside your home:
- Damaged or poor internal wiring/bad splices or terminations -- Every place that your line is tapped into in any fashion is a potential problem area. Be sure that all splices are tight and clean. If you are not familiar with splicing wires, have a friend or relative help. Fax machines, answering machines, or other modems on the same line -- Again, a potential weak link because of the junction with the phone line, with the addition of active electronic devices.
- Wireless transmit/receive devices -- Same as above, however, if you are using a wireless "room extender" to run your computer line though you (as opposed to just having one in some part of the house for another extension), you may not connect very well at all because of the signal conversions that the devices perform. Remove this device and run a hard line to the room.
- Satellite TV devices (Primestar, DirecTV) -- Again, a potential weak link because of the junction with the phone line, with the addition of active electronic devices. If you think a device that is mentioned above may be causing problems, unplug it from the line (just turning it off probably won't help) and try your Internet connection again to see what affect it has.
- Modem drivers/firmware -- Having the correct and latest modem drivers and firmware is very important with the many changes that have taken place and are taking place in the communications industry. Keep your modem drivers and firmware current.
- Poor modem quality -- Some modems just don't work well, and others perform well in certain conditions. Just because you have a modem doesn't mean its the right modem for your situation. A $40 USR Winmodem just doesn't compare to a $300 USR Courier -- they are built differently and act differently. If your internet time is important to you, don't use a cheap modem -- get a good modem and save yourself many headaches! Most of the possibilities mentioned above won't matter if you have a poor modem.
Of course, there are several factors that can affect your connection outside your home as well, such as damaged lines, carrier devices, and even weather conditions. To determine if there are any outside factors at work, you will need to contact your phone provider. When calling to have your line checked, rather than telling them it is computer-related, tell them that you are having problems being heard by and hearing the other party (the second you mention computers or internet they will pass your problem off on us, as they are obligated only to provide voice grade service to customers -- voice grade is all a modem needs to function though, so your end result is having them service the line to improve the quality to voice grade). Also, your phone provider may not catch the problem the first time through -- don't be afraid to ask them to check it again if the problem persists, but be absolutely sure that you have explored the other reasons listed above - they can't fix it if it's not broken. Usually if it is a phone line issue, you can hear the noise on the line when talking on the phone.