With the ever-present and growing need for online access, Internet services in the home is becoming more necessary than ever before. With the current economic struggles affecting you and your family, dial-up internet is a great way to get that much needed Internet service and save money in the process. Whether you’re preparing to connect for the first time, or moving into a new home, there are a few things that you should be consider before calling the ISP to set up dial-up Internet service. These tips will help you make sure you will have everything you need to connect:
1. Check your phone line. In order to have a dial-up connection, you must have an analog landline phone, not just a phone jack, or a digital VoIP phone, or even a cable-provisioned phone. You will get an error 680, “No Dial Tone” if you try to connect to the Internet without an analog phone. Call your phone company if you do not know whether your phone is analog or digital. Some cell phones have dial-up modems that can be used with dial-up. If you are not sure, check with your provider or the cell phone manual.
2. Check for a dial-up modem. Most computers have a dial-up modem already installed on the computer, but some of the newer, cheaper computers are now being sold without dial-up modems. How can you tell if your computer has a modem? Check your tower or the back and sides of your laptop for a phone port. It should look just like a phone jack in your wall and sometimes is labeled with the picture of a phone plug or the word “line”. Don’t get your modem phone port confused with an Ethernet port, which is slightly larger and used for broadband cables.
3. Make sure your modem is working properly. You can test your modem by hooking it up with a regular telephone cord to a landline jack and creating a test dial-up account manually. You can get local access numbers from ISP websites or by calling their customer service. If you get 691 “Invalid Username and Password” error, you have established a connection to the Internet, and your modem is working properly. Any other error could indicate that your modem is not working or you possibly set up the dialer wrong. A local technician could also test and repair your modem issues if necessary. However, if you decide to take your computer to a technician, keep in mind that you may end up spending more fixing a used modem than if you just buy a new modem.
4. Buy a modem if necessary. If you don’t have a modem on your computer or it does not work, you will probably need to buy a modem. A “56 K” modem is the most recent dial-up modem and any model should be compatible to your computer, but ask a store attendant if you are not sure. You can find dial-up modems in most computer stores and department stores. Prices vary depending on the store and the type of modem you buy. You should look for external modems, as opposed to internal modems (which require removing your computer case and physically installing it inside your tower). External modems usually plug into a USB port and even amateurs should not have trouble following the installation directions.
5. Consider extra phone and modem features. If you want to be able to receive calls while you are connected, you will need to add call waiting to your phone plan. You will also need a V.92 modem that has the “modem-on-hold” feature. Caller ID is also helpful so you can see who is calling and determine if it is worth disconnecting from the Internet to take the call. V.92 modems may also help you connect at faster speeds. To check what type of modem you have on your computer, check the phone and modem options on your control panel, refer to the computer/modem manual, or check with a local technician. Your ISP can also help you locate your modem properties.
6. Check for local access numbers. Your ISP will probably give you a local access number, but they cannot verify that it is local for you. Ask for several access numbers in your area and call your phone company. Make sure these data transfer numbers will not incur any extra charges on your phone plan. If you have unlimited long distance and don’t have local access numbers, you still want to get the closest number possible to sustain a better connection. You may need to ask your long distance phone company about their policy of data transfer numbers or excessive usage. Some unlimited long distance companies may threaten to terminate your service for using a long distance access numbers excessively.
7. Consider your total expenses. Check out a variety of ISP’s available to you. Do they have contracts, hidden fees? What are the payment methods and prices, and do the prices change over time? What are the terms of service? Make sure there are no additional charges and that you understand the signup, billing, and cancellation procedure so that you do not incur unnecessary charges over a misunderstanding. How do you cancel if you’re not satisfied? There are many ISP’s wanting your business and offering great prices. Make sure you look around and get something that will give you the best deal and satisfaction. Run a search query on the name of the ISP and “promotion” or “special offer” to see if you can get a first time customer discount.
Now that you are prepared for dial-up, you can connect simply and avoid some of the typical start up surprises. Happy dial-up shopping!