June 1999 - [Page 1] [Page 2] [Page 3] [Page 4]

By  Carroll  Palmer

Several questions were raised during Random Access at last month's meeting about modem speed.   Following is some useful info on this and a few other topics.
If you want to test the actual speed at which your modem (14.4 to 56K) is operating on the Internet, here is a URL worth saving as a Favorite, etc.:
Five different test modes are offered and they permit you to repeat them easily.  When you do, you will be shocked to see how much the speed varies from minute to minute.
If you have a 56k modem which does nothing but downloading for an hour, you can expect an operation speed  approaching 50k.  However, if that modem splits the hour between  uploading and downloading, expect a speed  about  35k since, while 56k modems download at speeds up to 56k, they can upload at only 33.6k.
You will get a modem speed reported by your software occasionally, e.g., 56.7k, which will not be the actual modem speed, but will be the assigned default speed for your modem port.  On the other hand, you may use your modem for direct telephone connection to some downloading service  which will display, via its own software in some manner, the actual speed at which you are connected to that service.
There appear to be some software programs available that enable you to have a "tag" appear on your bottom "Start Bar" that  continually report the speed at which the modem is working.
When your modem is "on", a small icon, e.g., a black box, etc., containing two little "lights" appears on the bottom "Start Bar" of the PC monitor at the right near the "digital clock" space. The left "light" blinks when the modem is uploading and the right blinks when it is downloading.  If it appears to you that "nothing is happening" with the modem, check this modem icon and if it does not blink in 30 seconds,  then something probably is wrong.  Click on "Back" to see if things start moving again.
The number to call to inquire about

having your telephone line tested for modem speed is:


There will be a charge of  at least $75.00 to have this done.  You may as well forget it because, no matter what the test shows,  all that the phone company will guarantee to provide you for a standard telephone line is a transmission speed of 14.5k (9300 Baud).  When you run the speed test given above, you will surely find your Internet speed is well above this guaranteed threshold.
If you want to pay the price, you can obtain a much faster telephone line connection to your PC.  Such a service is identified by the acronym ISDM (Integrated Services Digital Network).
The bad news is ISDM requires two telephone lines for which BellSouth will charge $62.00/mo for up to 200 hours and 2 cents / min. above that.  Also, you will need to buy a new modem @ $200 and an installation charge.  Some Internet servers compete with BellSouth in providing ISDM at  lower cost and no installation charge.
The good news is that ISDM provides much more than added  speed to your present connection to the Internet.  Thus, it allows simultaneous voice, data and video communication, i.e., you can talk to someone at the same time you are downloading from the Internet on the PC.  If you now have a "dedicated" modem/fax line, you would be able to eliminate both  your voice and modem  lines which may not make the monthly ISDM charge too unattractive to you.
For those of you who can get by without having all the "bells & whistles" right away, technology in this internet connection field is moving ahead so fast, it appears that all of the above, including modems, will be, like the sliderule and adding machines, a thing of the past in a few years.
More info about ISDM was contained in the November, 1998 issue of this newsletter (vol.16, issue11).  If you missed  this or did not save it, check it out on:


If you use MS Explorer as your browser and you wish to tell your recipient  about a  URL, type the URL out completely, i.e., http://www. Etc. and the URL will be automatically formatted as a link with a color change from black to blue enabling the recipient to simply "click on it".  If you leave out the http://, this will not happen.   Check it out with your browser since I understand some others will create the link even without the http://.