Wow! Three people replying at once - thank you so much for taking the
Maybe not many experts have needed to answer the question before, and that's
why it took a while (or maybe it's just a dumb question!).
I'm in the Republic of Ireland, Paul, where the national phone line provider
(Eircom) doesn't exactly win plaudits for its alert and knowledgeable
helpline people. Their 'engineers on the ground' do the best they can given
the infrastructure. But the company? Well, the simplest way to get a
flavour of what we're up against here would be to take a look at the Ireland
Offline forum, at www.boards.ie
, Hosted tab, Technology, IrelandOffline
(There are more details of my situation there, under screen name "Fogmatic",
which would be off-topic here).
About 1/3 of internet users in the R.O.I. can't get broadband, but you
wouldn't believe that if you listened to the government etc. Some bigwig
consultant published an article earlier this year about why dialup is still
"popular" with 1/3 of Irish net users. His suggested solution was to make
websites even more difficult to access with dialup, by loading them with more
images etc. As you may imagine, the responses in the forum were most
Getting my line tested is no problem though. I no longer ring Eircom
directly, as I 'sacked' them as an ISP years ago and moved to an
internet/phone bundle with another ISP, UTV (Eircom just rakes in the line
rental). The procedure is simply to ring UTV, who check my line immediately,
take one look and impress the situation on Eircom. (Unusually, I've found
UTV's technical helpline people very knowledgeable, suggesting obscure
settings that have solved many a problem in the past).
Eircom then send out the engineers to patch up the offending junction (for
now), and the company rings a few days later saying "Is your phone line all
right now?", not a very useful question (line tests being better at that than
ears). I'm keeping modem logs because the line quality fluctuates many times
a day, and periodic tests don't give a true picture.
Thank you for giving me the answer. Ruling out Vista as an obstacle (and
connection settings, as they're the same in all 3 computers), narrows it down
to something about the modem. Maybe it adds just enough of an extra layer of
hardware/software to fail with this slow connection.
Thank you, Posiedonas. Your "defective" modem suggestion prompted me to try
the external one with this 98SE computer I'm using, but I've misplaced the
installation disk! I'll try it as soon as it turns up. Alhough it worked
once with the Vista machines, even if it works with the old PC I'll still try
a different modem for the new computers (it might help the sophisticated,
modern hardware to cope with the increasingly unsophisticated old line!).
And thanks for the modem suggestions. Most retailers in Ireland and the
rest of the world are mutually exclusive, but I can get just about anything
like that by post, from Irish online IT retailers, or the UK Maplin
Electronics. If I can't get the same makes, I can look up their
specifications on the web and find one that matches them.
I haven't checked where the line reaches the house - the engineers do it
regularly! They've also checked the elderly wall socket, about 2 years ago.
They showed us the rampant verdigris inside, and fitted a new one, wired so
as not to channel the rain into the socket like before (phone and internet
connections had been promptly short-circuiting with the first bit of current).
Connecting the laptop directly to the (single) wall phone socket has never
made any improvement (and the often audible noise on the line sounds the same
as through extension cables, splitters etc).
The line's always worse in damp weather. We also have local specialities,
like horses in a local field finding a particular pole ideal when they
occasionally feel the need for a scratch; the movement puts too much strain
on the old junctions (that one took quite a while for the engineers to
Thank you for taking the trouble to suggest the ISPs, but I'm sorry to say I
can't follow them up, as only Irish ones are available here. I'll find out
if there are similar ISP trial offers here though. I've had bad experiences
with ISP disks and try to avoid them; Eircom's, for instance, though it just
entered a few basic settings, managed to cause computer problems (UTV just
tells new customers their server's phone number etc).
I'm still trying to find somebody within reach with a dialup connection to
try the laptop with, apart from my immediate neighbours whose lines are as
bad as mine. When broadband became available in the nearest towns, people
adopted it like a shot.
Yes, DevilsPGD, I've discovered too that pressure can break copper. But can
anyone help me explain that to the horses?
Thank you all for the advice (I knew this would be a good forum!)