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How To...
Modem Troubleshooting 
(print this for later reference because you can't be connected for some steps!)

Modem Troubleshooting

Some of our customers have reported problems with either getting connected or frequent and random disconnections. These problems are almost always due to incompatibilities in how different brands of modems communicate with each other, or signal quality issues arising from older phone lines. In an effort to help those customers experiencing problems, we've put together the following troubleshooting guide. This does not mean that your modem is bad.  It is only a reference to facilitate a better connection. 

1) What type of modem do you have?

How do I find out?     Under Windows 95/98, click on the Start button, Settings, and then on the Control Panel. Then double-click on the Modems icon. Your modem type should be listed there. Unfortunately, some modem manufacturers will not give a very detailed description; something like "56k Voice/Speakerphone" is often not very helpful. Ideally, knowing what brand and model you are having trouble with helps us fix your problem.

Why is this so important?     Somewhere around 90% of the calls we receive about disconnections are from users of a few specific types of modems. While we have selected our modems with an emphasis on compatibility, no single type of modem can communicate correctly with all other modem types. In addition to this, modems have a software component, called "firmware" that is revised frequently, and often even new computers /modems come with slightly outdated versions of this software. Also, you should be aware that some computer manufacturers (e.g. Hewlett Packard and Compaq) include troublesome (HCF) modems even with their most expensive computers.

2) So how do I fix it?

What's the easiest way?     The quickest and easiest way to eliminate random disconnections is to connect using the older (but more stable) v.34 protocol. This protocol has a maximum connection speed of 33.6k, slower than the newer protocols (v.90, K56Flex). However, if you are having trouble, a stable 33.6 connection is most often actually faster than an unreliable higher-speed connection.

What's the best way?     The best way to fix these problems is to install a "firmware" upgrade onto your modem. These upgrades are often available for no cost on your modem manufacturer's website, or at http://www.56k.com/links/Firmware_Updates/. If you are unable to find your modem or computer maker on the list, or have trouble installing the update, you should contact their technical support for assistance.

3) How do I tell my modem to connect using v.34?

Each modem chipset has a different way to do this. You should try an init string from the following chart

Modem Type

Init String

Rockwell Chipset Winmodem (HCF)


Rockwell Chipset Hardware Modem


US Robitics/3Com


How do I use the init string in Windows 95/98/NT?     Click on Start, Settings, and then Control Panel. Then locate the Modems icon and double click on that. A dialog box should appear that lists your modem. After making sure your modem is selected, click on the Properties button. This will bring up a window with some tabs at the top, the second one should be labeled "Connection". Select this tab. In the bottom right hand corner there is a button that says "Advanced". Clicking on this button brings up a window with a box labeled "Extra Settings". Type the init string for your modem into this box. Close all the windows by clicking OK, and the change should be complete. After doing this, you should try to connect. If your computer has trouble communicating with the modem, you probably used the wrong init string. Remove it and try another.

The init strings didn't work! What do I do now? You should try to disable v.90 by adding some commas to then end of our access number. For example, instead of dialing "508-437-5599"  you would dial "508-437-5599,,". This will make your modem blind to the v.90 connection tones. You can experiment with anywhere from 1 to 4 commas.

4) Can you connect by dialing around your local telco loop?
If you continue to have problems, you may want to run a little test. If you dial "1010321" and then "1231" and then our phone number (long distance charges will apply) you will be dialing around the local loop and your call will be placed on an "all digital, zero signal loss network". If this solves your problems, you'll know right away that you have a problem with the phone lines or equipment near your home or office and should contact your local phone company for a resolution. In some remote areas, there may be no resolution until the local phone company upgrades their equipment. If this is the case, your only choice for a reliable connection is to downgrade to v.34 in step 2.

5) Does your modem pass the 56k line test?
Another test for testing local line conditions is to use the free 3COM 56k Line Tester. You can do this by using Hyperterminal and dialing into 847-262-6000 (long distance charges will apply). Use firstname = line, lastname = test when logging in. This will run a brief test on your modem and will give you a report of how your modem and phone line tested out.

6) Have you adjusted your FIFO Buffers?

What's a FIFO Buffer? Your software allows you to lower your FIFO Buffers in an effort to correct for poor line conditions.

How do I change it? Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel. Double click on Modems. Select your modem and click on Properties. Click the Connection tab and then the Port Settings button. Lower the Receive Buffer and the Transmit Buffer.

7) Do you have the latest version of Dial-up Networking for your computer?
If you are using Windows 98/ME , you should be fine.
If you are using Windows95, you can download the update from Microsoft's website at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q191/4/94.asp.

8) If none of these suggestions solve your problems or if you need professional assistance, please contact us via email at info@intercape.com or call us at (508) 420 4554 and we will be happy to refer you to on-site specialists that can solve your problem. Remember, unless we've heard from you, we don't know you are having problems.

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InterCape OnLine
Copyright 2006

Phone: 508.322.1984
Postal: PO Box 452, Ledyard, CT  06339