Your connection has been idle (you haven't sent or received any data) for 30 minutes. Downloading a web page, sending or receiving email, playing an on-line game, etc., are all examples of activity. Composing an email message or reading a web page or email message are examples of inactivity, since these things happen entirely on your computer without data coming or going. Like most Internet providers, we do this to ensure that modems are available to customers when they need them.
Here are some specific measures you can take to resolve other sources of disconnections:
1. Check your phone line for obvious signs of noise. You can do this by picking-up your telephone (while you are not connected) and dialing a digit to eliminate the tone. Listen carefully to the dead air for any static, crackles, voices, etc. If you hear any of this, chances are your modem will not keep a firm connection. If your modem uses a dedicated phone line, you may have a noise problem and not realize it. Connect a telephone to the line so you can listen for noise.
Realize that the noise you hear could be caused by a worn cord, a poorly-wired wall jack, the phone itself, or some other problem in your house. If possible, also check for noise from another location in the house, or using a different telephone.
You can completely eliminate your house wiring as the source of the problem if have access to your Network Interface Device (NID). This is a box mounted on the side of your house, usually near the electric meter, where your phone company's line connects to your house wiring. If you can get a long enough phone cord or move the computer to a room near the NID, you can open the box and disconnect the modular phone plug inside (your house wiring) from its jack (your phone company's line). (Be sure to read any instructions or warnings on the box.) Now connect your modem line directly to the jack, thereby bypassing your house wiring. Connect the Internet, and if the disconnections continue, your inside wiring is not the problem.
You will need to contact your local phone company about any possible noise problems. They will be able to check your line for shorts, grounding, crosses, voltage, circuit loss, general noise, etc. They can run basic tests from their office, but to thoroughly check your line, a serviceman will need to come to your house.
In rare instances, customers have encountered CB or HAM radio signals bleeding into their phone line. The source is usually an individual in the neighborhood broadcasting with more wattage than allowed by law, or using an improperly-grounded transmitter. In this case your phone company will be unable to help, and you will need to contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
2. Do you have Call Waiting on your modem's line? A Call Waiting tone will cause enough interference to disconnect some modems. Be sure to disable it in your dialer. Many phone companies use the prefix code *70, but consult your phone book or local operator if necessary. Usually the dial tone disappears for a moment after you send this code. Add a comma after it (,) which will cause your modem to pause briefly, since you don't want it dialing when there is no tone. When you disconnect from the Internet, Call Waiting will be restored automatically.
3. Do you utilize a splitter, surge protector, wireless phone jack, or some extra pass-through on your modem line? Any of these may degrade line quality to the point of causing disconnections. Try running the modem's phone cord directly into the wall.
4. Are there any other phones, answering machines, fax machines, etc., on this line? Disconnect these devices and see if the problem goes away. Cordless phones are a common problem because they can act as a "transmitter", picking-up radio signals and broadcasting them on your house wiring.
5. Noise can also be caused by an old, worn, or extremely long phone cord. Use only six feet of cord or less, if possible. If you suspect the cord may be damaged, replace it. If you have an external modem, try using a different serial or USB cable.
6. Extreme weather (rain, heat, snow, etc.) can sometimes cause enough interference to disrupt a modem connection.
7. If you live in an area where more than one dial-up number is a local call, try dialing the other number.
8. To test for problems that may be caused by noise on your phone company's lines or switches, briefly call a long-distance dial-up number. Long-distance phone lines are sometimes cleaner than local lines. You could even try calling your local number using one of the popular discount long-distance services (10-10-321, 10-10-220, etc.).
9. Make sure you are using the most updated modem firmware or driver. This is done by contacting your modem or computer manufacturer or by downloading the update from their web page. This is especially important if you have a "56k" modem, since "56k" technology has evolved a great deal since these modems first went on sale in mid-1997. Some modem manufacturers released new code every couple months, and some continue to do so. As EvenLink upgrades its modems, you must upgrade yours as well. Failure to do so could result in disconnections, slower connection speeds, and possibly the failure to connect at all.
10. Some modem brands are simply more usable than others, and better able to handle changing line conditions. Using a high-quality modem on bad phone lines may help correct disconnection problems, but using a cheap modem on bad phone lines may make the problem even worse. Disconnections can also be caused by a software-based modem which is not completely compatible with your computer or the software you are running.
11. All major dialer programs, including those for Windows and the Macintosh, include an option for an idle timeout. If this option is activated, your computer will disconnect itself after a set amount of time if you are not sending or receiving data. Some poor implementation may actually check for just keyboard or mouse activity, instead of modem activity. We recommend disabling this feature.
12. Normally individual Internet programs cannot affect your dial-up connection, but Microsoft's Outlook Express email program is an exception. It contains several settings that may cause dropped connections if it is not configured properly. If you notice disconnections after checking or sending mail, click the Tools menu, choose Options, then click either the Dial Up or the Connection tab. Look for an option like Hang up after sending and receiving and disable it. There are other connection issues with Outlook Express, but are too complicated for discussion here.
13. Try adding two or three commas (,,,) after your dial-up number. This can sometimes improve a connection by making your modem pause slightly after it dials and ignore some of the tones sent by our modem.
14. A damaged and/or dying modem can also cause disconnections. Modems can be damaged and/or made completely useless by an electrical surge through the phone line (which commonly occurs during thunderstorms) or through the wall AC outlet (external modems only). Like any electronic component, modems will also decrease in performance over time. Sometimes they may die simply because of heavy use or old age.
If you require any help or have any questions feel free to call our office. We can be reached locally at 570-988-1800 in Sunbury or 717-274-3300 in Lebanon or outside the local calling area at 1-866-311-5900. We can also be reached by email 24 hours a day at firstname.lastname@example.org.