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What is the biggest factor in my connection speed?

Why does phone line noise affect my connection speed?

What is the modem handshake?

Which connection protocols does Blue One support?

What is RNAAPP?

What is Winsock?

What does "ripping and reinstalling" mean?

What is an init string?

Where can I go to find an init string for my modem?

Where do I put init strings in my modem?


Q. What is the biggest factor in my connection speed?
A. Since all signals transmitted through a standard dial-up connection are analog, the smallest bit of interference on a telephone line can cause general connection problems. The number one contributing factor to slow connection speeds is weak signal quality on the phone lines and/or background noise on the line. Unfortunately, there is only limited troubleshooting that can accommodate poor line quality. Initialization strings for you modem that slow down connection speeds can sometimes work when background noise on the phone line is causing disconnections.

If you are experiencing a maximum connection speed significantly lower than what both your modem and your ISP's modems support, there is a good possibility that there are old copper wires limiting that connection speed. The maximum connection speed anyone can ever achieve is 54,333 bits-per-second. Currently, FCC regulations prevent all devices attached to the telephone network from exceeding a certain power output. As a result, many telephone companies have had to scale back the power output on their phone lines. That has a direct effect on the speed at which a modem can transfer and receive data. Currently, default server modem limits are set to 54,333 bits-per-second. The minimum data transfer rate, on the other hand, is only guaranteed at 14,400 bits-per-second or higher. If you are experiencing connection speeds below 14,400 and have gone through extensive troubleshooting with your ISP, you should contact your local phone carrier and make them aware of your troubles.

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Q. Why does phone line noise affect my connection speed?
A.
It all has to do with how computers understand "data." Everything that your computer does, stores, or displays uses binary data, which is a 1 or a 0. Simply put, a 1 means that electricty is flowing through your computer's processor, and 0 means that there is no electricity flowing through the processor. The switch is on or the switch is off. A modem connection to the Internet has an analog portion that cannot transmit the on and off states of binary data. Analog phone lines have electrical sound signals that your telephone turns into sound waves, which are then sent to your ear where you "hear" what is being said over the telephone.

Your computer doesn't understand electrical sound signals. It only understands 1's and 0's. Computers have to Modulate the digital signal that computers understand (1's and 0's) into a series of electrical sounds sent over your telephone lines. Your modem then has to Demodulate those electrical sounds on the phone lines back into a digital signal that is understood by your computer. The Modulating and Demoduating is where you get the term Modem.

Here's where line noise comes in to play. When data travels along an analog phone line, you can pick up a phone and actually "hear" it with your own ears. Your modem also has to "hear" this data, so any noise on the phone lines can mask the data that your modem wants to hear. In order for your Internet connection to work properly, your modem needs to hear the data perfectly. If it can't hear it very well, it will slow its speed down so it has more time to decode the electrical sounds on the phone line into the digital signal that your computer understands.

If the noise on your phone line becomes too bad, your modem can actually disconnect altogether. You could also experience problems gettings connected, as your modem and Blue One's modems may not be able to hear the handshake properly.

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Q. What is the modem handshake?
A.
The modem handshake is the computer term for two modems greeting each other when one modem calls the other to establish an Internet connection. If you have your modem's speaker volume turned up, you will be able to hear the modem dial out and then make squawks and tones like a fax machine. Those squawks and tones are the modem handshake. During the handshake, the two modems, one being the user's modem and the other being the ISP's modem, negotiate which protocols they will use to transfer data. This would be like negotiating the rules of engagement. The two protocols that Blue One modems support are V.90 and V.34.

The V.90 protocol is what allows you to connect at the higher 56k speeds. It assumes that the only analog connection between you and the Internet is between your modem and your local telephone company. If there is more than one segment of your connection to the Internet that is analog, the V.90 protocol cannot be used. V.90 connection speeds can range from 28,800 bits-per-second to 54,333 bits-per-second, though average 56k speeds fall between 36,000 bits-per-second and 48,000 bits-per-second.

The V.34 protocol allows you to connect up to 33,600 bits-per-second. It assumes that there are two or more analog segments of your connection to the Internet.

During the modem handshake, Blue One's modems will attempt to transfer data using the rules set up by the V.90 protocol. In order for that to work, your modem must support the V.90 protocol. If your modem does not support the this protocol, then Blue One's modems will try to use V.34, which will limit your connection speed to 33,600 bits-per-second.

When trouble-shooting a connection problem, listen to the modem handshake. If it seems to repeat certain tones and squawks, your modem may be having problems communicating with Blue One's modems, or having a problem agreeing on which connection protocols to use.

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Q. Which connection protocols does Blue One support?
A. Blue One supports the V.90 protocol for 56k speeds, V.34 for connection speeds up to 33,600 bits-per-second, and V.34bis for connection speeds up to 14,400 bits-per-second. Blue One also supports older protocols that work with older modems, which most people do not use.

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Q. What is RNAAPP?
A. RNAAPP stands for Remote Network Access Application. This is the core application of Windows-based Dial-up Networking, which is the software that allows people to dial and connect to the Internet using a modem.

On occasion, RNAAPP.EXE will get locked in your system memory causing difficulty while connecting to the Internet. RNAAPP is understood by your Operating System as being an "Active Connection" and thus will hinder your computer's ability to establish another connection. This can sometimes be remedied by restarting the computer. In most cases, it is necessary to remove RNAAPP.EXE from your task list of running programs. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete simultaneously on your keyboard to open the Close Program or Task Manager window. Once the task list is opened, click on RNAAPP.EXE and click the End Task button. Restart the computer and check for RNAAPP once fully rebooted. If RNAAPP continues to cause problems, you may want to consider re-installing the Dialup Networking Windows component.

Note to most users: you may need your Windows installation CD to do this.

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Q. What is Winsock?
A. Winsock is the supporting program interface between a Windows Operating System and any Internet application. Winsock is the Microsoft Windows version of a socket application (hence the name "Winsock). This program runs "between" your Internet application, such as a browser or email client, and the networking component TCP/IP protocol. Since Winsock operates "between" the Internet application and the TCP/IP protocol, it can cause data transfer issues without the user knowing of any problem. Typically, you will find Winsock errors after all other forms of troubleshooting an Internet connection problem have been exhausted.

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Q. What does "ripping and reinstalling" mean?
A.
This is a rather involved process of uninstalling and reinstalling (almost) every Windows component related to your dial-up Internet connection: Dial-up Networking, TCP/IP protocols and adapters. This process may also involve re-installation of modem firmware, which due to liability reasons, is the responsibility of the end-user.

Most newer computers will have a back-up copy of your modem's firmware on the hard drive. If your modem is plug-and-play, your Windows installation CD should have the proper software to run your modem. You may also have a System Restore disk, which if used, will wipe out all saved data on your computer and restore it to the condition it was in when you first started using it. If need be, you can always contact your computer's or modem's manufacturer and have them send you a disk with the latest software for your modem.

If you are unsure how to do this, please contact technical support at 721-2583.

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Q. What is an init string?
A. An init string is a command to your modem that can enable and disable connection protocols or limit your connection speed. Some connection protocols include K56Flex, V.90, X2, and V.92.

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Q. Where can I go to find an init string for my modem?
A. First, you need to find out what kind of modem you have. Then go to one of the web sites listed below:

http://www.modemhelp.net
http://www.modemhelp.org
http://www.56k.com
http://www.tidbits.com/iskm/modems.html (Macintosh)
http://www.holpa.net/techsupport/offline/mac/macinit.htm (Macintosh)

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Q. Where do I put init strings in my modem?
A. To learn where to put init strings, choose your computer's operating system below:
NOTE: Blue One is not responsible for the affects of init strings entered without the supervision of technical support. If you get a hardware failure or any other type of error after you enter an init string, remove the init string and restart the computer.

Windows 95 and 98
Windows ME
Windows NT 4.0
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Macintosh (Using Free PPP v2.6.2

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