Internet connection gone bad
November 28, 2005 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm unable to connect to the Internet at home all of a sudden.

I'm still on dial-up at home. One day I could connect just fine, the next I couldn't get past the no dial tone error message. The only thing is, my phone is working fine. There *is* a dial tone. I replaced the telephone cord thinking that might be the problem, but no. I checked my modem settings and all appears to be well in that area. I tried another phone jack and got the same message, as did my daughter who plugged in her laptop to see if the problem was with my computer or the phone line. The only thing not working on my laptop is that the computer is not finding the dial tone.

Any suggestions on what might have gone wrong?
posted by SoftSummerBreeze to Technology (15 answers total)
Have you called your phone company? They might have some helpful tips.
posted by bshort at 9:11 AM on November 28, 2005

You ought to be able to change your modem init string to allow for blind dialing (it doesn't check for a dial tone). That command is different for different modems - check the manual.
posted by whatisish at 9:42 AM on November 28, 2005

You didn't mention your OS, but you should go into the control panel>modem options, and query the modem to be sure it is responding. The first response, I belive, should be "OK", then a bunch of other cryptic codes. Could be a modem issue. Good luck.
posted by cincidog at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2005

You're probably not as stupid as me, but do you have any form of telephone operator provided answering service, that changes the dial tone when you have messages? Anything else that might have altered the dial tone from its regular flat tone?

I tore my hair out trying to install an internal modem last week whilst waiting for broadband to be switched on at my new home, and had the same error. I tried following the full Windows modem troubleshooting tree with no success, including switching the blind dialing. I am not very technical, and eventually gave up in disgust and bought an external dial-up modem, which worked find and led me to conclude that the modem, not the phone line, was the problem.

One thing worth asking - had you recently installed any new devices when the problem started? Same disclaimer: I am technically useless, but did lots of reading while trying to get the thing to work, and internal modems in particular are notorious for crapping out due to device conflicts.

Probably worth while for you to try another modem with your PC to see if you can narrow down the problem. Does a neighbour have an external modem they can lend you for 15 minutes?
posted by bifter at 9:54 AM on November 28, 2005

Did your daughter's laptop dial okay?

It sounds like a driver/configuration problem. I assume the modem doesn't have a speaker... Turning the modem speaker on and listening for what it does is always a good diagnostic when it is possible.
posted by Chuckles at 10:07 AM on November 28, 2005

bifter, was the modem you bought USB? The internal modem probably had a hardware conflict that wouldn't be apparent with a USB device. I haven't had to do anything much with modems in years, but I always found modems to be particularly irritating...
posted by Chuckles at 10:10 AM on November 28, 2005

ATDT 5551212
posted by soma lkzx at 10:31 AM on November 28, 2005

I'll chime in again. Not likely a problem with the modem since it *is* actually responding. And since your daughters modem reports the same message, I'll bet bifter is right on the money. If you have voice messaging, check the messages prior to having the modem dial. Anything that alters the dial tone can solicit this response.

Your choices are to either A) Change the init string so that it ignores the dial tone prior to dialing; or B) Fix the dial tone.

Your service provider ought to be able to walk you through fixing this in no time since it means changing the init string and many of those commands are universal. Also, make sure you choose the command to ignore only the dial tone (if it allows that) - rather than busy signals, etc... or your modem will take forever to time out on a redial.

Post your modem make/model and dial up provider and we might be able to walk you through it as well.
posted by whatisish at 10:43 AM on November 28, 2005

You might try turning on the sound for your modem, and then open HyperTerminal, type ATDT (enter) and listen for the dial tone.

Also try:

AT&F - resets the modem to default
ATI3 - gives some info about the modem
ATI4 - gives more info about the modem.

to see if your modem responds.

As suggested earlier, if your dialtone indicates voicemail with a "beep beep beep" before the dialtone, you might see the error also.
posted by stovenator at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2005

... and if you aren't comfy with Hyperterminal, you can echo the commands to the modem via a dos window. A modem on com1 would, for example, be

c:> echo AT&F > COM1
c:> echo ATDT 5551212 > COM1
posted by whatisish at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to all for your replies.

There's no voice msging system on the line. I'm pretty lo-tech at home... dial up internet and a stand alone answering machine.

To clarify a couple of things, the line *is* dialing, but it just won't connect and then gives the message No Dial Tone. Operating system is Windows XP, make & model of the laptop is a Sony Vaio. I've had it for about 2 years and it's in otherwise good condition.

I'll be calling the phone company tonight and perhaps my IPS, but in the meanwhile any other suggestions or thoughts are most welcome.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 12:02 PM on November 28, 2005

What's odd to me about your last statement is that the modem *is* dialing, but then reports the "No dial tone" error. I've never seen or heard of a modem that reports that error after dialing. That, coupled with the fact that the other totalling independent computer gives the symptoms, stumps me.

Can't wait to hear the resolution.
posted by whatisish at 12:10 PM on November 28, 2005

Anytime I have had a modem do what you are describing it has been the modem. The interface to the phone line in the modem has been popped by a surge on the phone line. This would also allow it to continue to respond to AT commands and such, it just can't "see" the phone line. I know you say you have two modems doing the same thing so my question is: where they both plugged into the line all the time? They could have been damaged at the same time if something came down the line.
posted by CJB at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm sorry... Did I miss the part where you dialed the number yourself instead of going through the modem? Then did you dial another number with the modem?
posted by rdr at 6:30 PM on November 28, 2005

long shot: check your "Add/Remove Programs" list for an item called "contextplus". If it's there, remove it.

Found this thing installed on one of the work laptops yesterday, after the owner complained that her home dialup connection had stopped working. In her case it stopped the modem being detected altogether, and made the Device Manager display a blank window instead of a list of devices. I don't know whether it could also make a modem misbehave as opposed to disappear, but it's an easy thing to check for.
posted by flabdablet at 6:34 PM on November 28, 2005

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