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System Requirements...  Modems

Modems are available in two basic STYLES:

  1. External Modems... are used outside of the main computer's case, and plug into your computer using either a COM port, or the newer USB port.  External modems are generally more expensive than internal modems, as they must be enclosed in their own case and also have their own power supply.  Performance is generally the same and sometimes they are easier to configure than an internal modem.  Their biggest drawback is the higher cost and the additional room they take up on your workstation, along with the additional power cord.
  2. Internal Modems... are mounted inside the main computer's case, and plugged into one of the slots on the motherboard.  The two types of slots available are ISA and PCI, so before you purchase a modem you need to look inside your computer to see which type of slot you may have free in your computer.  ISA slots are longer and usually black "sockets" and PCI slots are shorter and usually white.
    Generally, the ISA modems (which are an older style interface and "on its way out") are somewhat cheaper, but may be harder to get your computer to recognize and configure.  PCI modems on the other hand will very seldom give you configuration problems.  Windows "Plug and Play" (PNP) just works better with PCI cards.

Modems come in two basic TYPES: (no, I'm not repeating myself!)
  1. "Full Horsepower" modems in which the modem circuitry has the built in processing power needed to process the signals between your computer and the phone line.  These are your "standard" modems.
  2. "Win Modems"...  which are generally cheaper, but don't do all the signal processing themselves... they use the computer's CPU to process some of the information, which will slow the computer down noticeably if it's not at least a 150mhz Pentium processor.
    We don't recommend this type of modem unless you just can't afford the extra $10-20 difference.  Usually the "standard" modem is well worth the extra money.

    Our experience has taught us that if any one type of modem has problems connecting and staying connected to the Internet, it's the "Win Modems."

What SPEED Modem should you get?

The "State of the Art" right now is the 56k v.90 modems.  These modems are capable of connection speeds in excess of 50kbps (kilobits per second) receive, and 33.6kbps send.  You may, but most likely will not connect at speeds this high due to phone line quality.

The Benton phone lines are old and sub-standard "analog" lines, and even with the best modem you will probably not connect above 26kbps - 28kbps.
You can save some money by buying a 33.6k modem, but who knows if you might move or SWB might actually upgrade their lines and switching stations... then you will wish you would have purchased the 56k modem!

Many of our Little Rock customers consistently connect at 48kbps to 52kbps... but the customers that do live only 1 - 2 miles from a SWB "digital" switching station
If you're more than 2 miles from the switching station, don't expect to connect this fast.

Disclaimer:  These pages are provided for information purposes only.  We cannot be held responsible for any damage you might inflict on your system while using the information contained herein.  We recommend you always refer any technical matter that is "over your head" to a qualified computer technician.

2011 Double-Hammer Computer Services.  All rights reserved.
Last Updated: September 04, 2011

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