Friday, January 18, 2008

Why a 56K dial-up will never be even close to 56K

This is part 4 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and points out the factors that restrain dial-up connections. Tips to improve speed included.[If you just landed here: this is part of a series. Click here for a table of contents. This article was last updated on: February 05 2008] And it never will be (sorry if this broke your heart). Yes, your dial-up might not be as fast as your ISP is advertising it to be, but make no mistake that you'll never reach your modem-capacity mileage. Reasons (source): 1. Static electricity caused by radio signals, power lines and other sources interfere with your modems signals. This results in the 56K to fall back to 42-50Kbps. 2. 56K modems also require a clean, straight through telephone connection to the telephone company's central office switching center. Phone company line amplifiers that boost a telephone signal over a long distance, PBX switchboard systems, and other phone equipment alter the phone signal and force 56K modems to fall back to speeds of 33.6Kbps and lower. 3. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and such don't allow 56K modems to use the full range of signals that phone company equipment can generate, fearing it'll cause static interference to other phone lines. Therefore, no modem ever connects at 56K. Most 56K modem users seem to connect at speeds of 44-48Kbps, at most. In general it's around 33 Kbps. If you're connecting at very low speeds, you ought to: * Check whether you're dialing the right number * Make sure you've got the basics right (click here for related article) * Check whether your PC is infected with viruses (click here for my antivirus reviews) or anything that's eating up your bandwidth * Update your modem driver (your modem should come with a driver CD/diskette) * Remove any junk files accumulated on your PC (click here for related article) * Look up whether any application you've installed is trying to access the internet by itself (iTunes, Windows Update, Zone Alarm, etc) In addition, * Pop-ups and ads of any sort will eat up your bandwidth * Sometimes flashing your modem's firmware helps boost speed (beware: this is risky business, and often causes far more problems than it's worth ever worth trying. Consult your modem company's website, and if you can't find anything there, try googling) * There are services available that will boost dial-up speeds to near-broadband capacities (3-7 times faster from your usual speed) for a monthly or annual fee. Check out an review. I've used Propel Accelerator and almost cried when my free trial expired (didn't have a credit card). Next: non-tech ways to improve your Net speed

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