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          This topic is probably the leading cause of customer problems. All modems are not created equal. There are a few models of modems that are highly recommended among all other modems. Those brands are US Robotics Sportster, Diamond Supra Express and Zoom. The following modems are known causes of problems - Rockwell HCF, Motorola SM56, PCTel, HSP Micromodem and Cirrus Logic modems. Any modem that is a Windows only modem, or "soft modem", is more trouble than it's worth. These modems are cheap because they lack a few of the chips normal modems have. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that you get what you pay for. If you purchase a $50 no-name modem you will most likely have lots of problems with it. As of January 15th, 1999, US Robotics Sportsters can be purchased for about $130 and Diamond Supra modems are about $100.

          Another VERY important factor about a modem is the modem firmware. The firmware is the "software" installed on your modem. You should always keep the modem's firmware installed with the latest version available from your modem manufacturer. Upgrading to the latest version could fix disconnect problems and even raise your connection speed as much as 10k! Upgrading modem firmware is done by obtaining the upgrade from your modem manufacturer and installing it. The installation process is not anymore complicated than installing any other software on your computer. If you perform the upgrade via the internet you would download the upgrade from the modem manufacturer's web site, then disconnect from the internet, then install and run the software. But beware, caution should be taken when upgrading the firmware on a modem. If done improperly your modem could be rendered useless.

          For a list of init strings for use with specific modems click here.

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