Rock River Internet Home Support

Upgrading Your Modem to V.90

The modem's image has certainly changed over the years. What was once a slow and crude tool for hackers and system administators has become an essential element of every new home PC. Modem technology has also changed making today's modems a far better investment. Just ask anyone who paid $1000 for a non-upgradable 300 baud boat-anchor.

Today's modems are based on DSP (Digital Signal Processor) technology. This means that the chipset inside the modem runs a software program to generate and interpret the audio signals that will be sent through the phone line. This means many new modems can be upgraded to fix connection problems and to support new standards simply by replacing this software program, called "firmware" (firmware generally refers to software that is embedded within a piece of hardware). Early DSP modems stored this program in a ROM chip that had to be replaced, but most modems today store it in some form of re-writable memory such as Flash memory. This means you can often use a simple program on your computer to update your modem's firmware.

The latest development in 56K analog modem technology is V.90 - the unified standard designed to replace both X2 and K56Flex. Most K56Flex and X2 modems are upgradable to the new V.90 standard, but this needs to be done according to the manufacturer's instructions. Upgrading firmware is usually an easy task, but doing so improperly can render your modem useless, so be sure to follow directions. Rock River Internet assumes no responsibility for problems related to upgrading your modem.

The best place to find information about upgrading your modem is on the Web. Most modem vendors have a web page where you can find out what the upgrade policy is for your modem, and possibly download the upgrade utility. Some common ones are:

www.3com.com (3com, Megahertz, and US Robotics modems)
www.diamondmm.com (Diamond/Supra modems)
www.hayes.com (Hayes modems)
www.bestdata.com (BestData modems)
www.bocaresearch.com (BocaModems)
www.zoomtel.com (Zoom modems)
www.multitech.com (MultiTech modems)
www.archtek.com (Archtek modems)
www.pctel.com (PCtel modems)
www.tdksystems.com (TDK modems)
www.mot.com (Motorola modems)
www.globalvillage.com (Global Village modems)
www.zyxel.com (ZyXEL modems)
www.practical.com (Practical Peripherals modems)
www.phoebemicro.com (Phoebe modems)

If your modem came with your computer and you don't know who made it, try contacting the people you bought it from, or your computer's manufacturer. If you are running Windows 95, 98, or Me, you can often find out what modem you have by opening the Control Panel and looking for a "Modems" icon. Double clicking on this icon may present you with the name of your modem if Windows has identified it properly. Also, many modems will usually return their model ID when an ATI3 command is issued from a terminal program (such as HyperTerminal).

Our access servers (which contain our digital modems) currently support all speeds up to 33.6K, plus K56Flex and V.90 for faster connections (X2 modems will need to be upgraded to connect faster than 33.6). We do not guarantee the success of 56k connections, as this technology is highly dependent upon local phone line conditions and infrastructure. Connect rates for 56K modems typically range from 45k to 53.3k baud in the Rockford area, but some people will get less.

If you think that you should be connecting faster than you are, you can schedule a time to bring your computer in to test it on our phone lines. We also offer replacment modems for $20 each that connect reliably at 52K from our office. These modems use the LT Winmodem chip set and require the Windows OS and a computer with a Pentium 233 or faster CPU.

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