Sunday 5th Dec, 2021

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Slow Connections

Sometimes your Internet connection may seem to stall, or you may find that your modem doesn't connect as fast as it used too. Perhaps web pages are taking longer to appear or downloads seam to take for ever. If any of these sound familiar, then hopefully you will find your answer here.

Q. I have a 56k modem, so why don't I connect at 56k?

Just because you have a modem that is capable of connecting at 56k (or 56,000bps) doesn't mean you will connect at that speed. In fact it is highly unlikely that anyone will connect at the full 56k speed. The main reason for this is that the phone lines are not yet capable of supporting a connection of that speed. Telstra suggests that most people will get a connection speed of anywhere from 19.2k to upwards of 45.0k, depending on what type of line you have, and how far you are from the exchange.

To ensure you are getting the best possible speed out of your modem, check that the 'Maximum Speed' option in the modem control panel is set to 57,600 or higher. Information on where to find this setting, along with various other modem settings can be found under the 'Dial-Up Connection' section of the Chariot Software Setup Guide

Q. Why do my downloads go so slow?

Download speeds can vary depending on where you are downloading from, and how busy that server is. Also a factor is of course your modem connection speed. To find the best possible speed achievable with your connection you can follow this formula:

Max download speed (KB/s) = connection speed (bps) / 8 / 1024

So if you are connected at 33600 bits per second, the maximum download speed you will be able to get will be 33600 / 8 / 1024, or 4.1 KB/s.

However, in the real world, there's no way that a 33600 connection will transfer at the full 4.1KB a second. The reason for this is that not every bit the modem is transmitting is part of the file you're downloading. The "wasted" bits of data are known as overhead, and the amount of overhead depends on the protocol being used, so don't be alarmed if your download speed falls just short of the mark.

To test your download speed, it is best to download something from a local server such as Chariot's download archive. If the speed is a lot lower then you may want to look into a few other options:

  • Are any other programs running that may be using the Internet connection? If you are receiving email, or your antivirus software is updating at the same time you are trying to download a file, then your download speed will be much slower as the bandwidth is being shared.

  • Do you have the latest drivers for your modem? A modem driver is a little peice of software that tells your computer how to best use your modem. Different drivers are generally needed for different versions of Windows, so if you have recently upgraded to Windows XP, be sure to get the latest modem drivers.

  • Line noise? Modem slowness and dropouts often go hand in hand when line noise is present. If you notice that your connection speeds are always different, or your modem disconnects unexpectedly, line noise may be the cause.

    You may find it hard to beleive, but a slower connection rate can actually result in better performance! This is especially true when line noise is involved. You may want to think about limiting your modem connection speed. A very interesting test is to try our bandwidth test before AND after limiting your connection speed. You may be suprised at the results.

  • Q. Sometimes my connection doesn't seem to do anything. Why?

    Most of the time this is because your modem is connected at an unstable speed. As puts it:

    "If the modem is unable to decode the data at the connect speed, the modem will either retrain or do a rate-renegotiation. Both of these events interrupt all data flow - in the case of a retrain, the interruption can be 20 seconds or more of nothing!"

    So if you are noticing that your connection frequently seems to stall, you may want to try limiting your connect speed. Alternatively you could try a modem string like AT&F&C1&D2W2%c0. This string will try and stabalise your modem without slowing the connect speed (Not compatible with all modems).

    If you have a question that you would like answered, email us at, and include FAQ in the subject.

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