Modem Speed Issues

Modem speeds are completely dependent on line conditions. In most cases you get the maximum speed your modem is able to negotiate for the particular line conditions you have at the time.

Modem and Speeds Table

Type of Modem Speeds to Expect
56K 24 – 53 Kbps
33.6 24 – 33.6 Kbps
28.8 24 – 28.8 Kbps
14.4 14 Kbps

56K’s Limitations

  • 56K modems are only designed to have one digital to analog switch between your computer and your ISP. Most telephone lines have more than one switch on them.
  • X2 modems only support 33.6K upload speeds (and 56K download speeds)
  • The FCC limits the power output of X2 and v90 modems. The power limits tend to restrict the speed to 53K.

In the dial-up connection window, Windows will report the initial speed up or down.

Things that affect connection speed

The weather

Rain and wind, especially in the form of our local winter rainy season and storms will cause pops and clicks in your phone line, submerged he line under water, and causes all kinds of speed issues. Bad weather will definitely slow down your connection.

Out of date modem drivers

Many modems are sold with drivers that are already old. Often each individual update to modem drivers (and firmware) tends to be small and incremental, but if you add enough of them together, you can get big improvements in your connection. -> Drivers are also susceptible to file corruption. It is a good idea to keep them up to date to prevent cranky windows problems.

Faulty modems

Cheap modems tend to be cheap for a reason. If your modem is in the elcheapo category or it suddenly fails after many years of hard use, it may be time for a new one.

Bad inside wires, Faulty phone jacks and Multiple Devices trying to use the main phone line

There are a wide variety of wiring problems that may be in your house, office or apartment that cause slow connections speeds. Try a new, short phone wire, or a different jack for the phones, or try unplugging the other phones, fax machines, and other devices and see if that improves your connection.


Double check that you are using the right modem driver, updated firmware, and the correct initialization screen

All of these things can be obtained from your modem’s manufacturer.

Ask the Telephone company to test your line

If you are having chronic connection problems, and you have tried all of the above, it may be a good idea to ask the phone company to test your line. Sometimes you can even talk them into cleaning up/conditioning the phone line.