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Customer Support - Online Helpdesk


General | Windows 95 | Windows 3.x | Macintosh

  1. My modem dials the number but fails to connect, or connects at a slow speed. How can I fix it?
  2. What is throughput and how does it relate to my connection speed? What throughput should I expect with my Internet connection?
  3. Why can't I achieve a connection speed of 56,000 bps?
  4. My modem is being used by another Dial-Up Networking connection or another program. How do I correct this?
  5. How do I get Century’s home page to come up when I start Netscape Navigator?
  6. How do I configure my mail and news in Netscape Navigator?
  7. My computer disconnects from the Internet at random times soon after I connect. What is happening?
  8. What is my Login Account Name? User name? Login ID?
  9. Can I change my password? It's too hard to remember!
  10. Is my login password the same as my e-mail password?
  11. What is my e-mail address?
  12. How do I know where to go on the World Wide Web?
  13. How can I create my own web page?
  14. How do I get into chat rooms?
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My modem dials the number but fails to connect, or connects at a slow speed. How can I fix it?

Many times this can be fixed by getting the latest drivers for your modem. This is especially true if your IBM-brand computer uses the IBM MWave software or modem-chip.

The latest drivers for your modem can be found on the manufacturer's Web site. Click on the name of your modem manufacturer below to go to their Web site.

Links to Modem Manufacturers

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My modem is being used by another Dial-Up Networking connection or another program. How do I correct this?

Connection speed refers to the speed of the connection between your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and your modem. The connection speed is the maximum speed available during a single session. This speed may be continuously "renegotiated" throughout the session between the customer's modem and the ISP. Throughput speed refers to the speed of data transmission from the serving site across the Internet to your personal computer. Therefore, the speed reported when connecting to the Internet is not the actual throughput speed.

On the Internet, throughput is the speed at which data moves from one site to another. The actual throughput or download rate will vary based on the modem type, brand, firmware, driver, and connect speed, the phone line quality, ISP activity, Internet traffic, and activity on the web host machine.

Data communication connection speed is reported in data bits per second (bps), while data file size is reported in bytes. One byte contains eight bits of data, which equals enough space for storing one character of text. Data bits must be converted to bytes when calculating throughput. First, divide the connection speed, data bits per second by 8. This gives you the number of bits in one byte of data. For example, 36,000 bits per second equals 4,500 bytes per second or 4.5 Kilobytes per second (36,000/8 = 4,500).

A modem connecting at 33,600 bps should, in theory, download data at 4.2 Kbytes per second ((33,600/8)/1,000 = 4.2). However, modem variables, network congestion, phone line noise, the ISP's bandwidth capacity, web server traffic, and variables beyond these mentioned, contribute to reducing the theoretical download rate by 20 to 65 percent. When calculating the download rate, the overhead percentage must be included to produce a more accurate estimate. We use 30 percent as the overhead percentage in the example below.

Download rate is calculated by first multiplying 8 bits times the overhead percentage of 0.30 and then adding back 8 (8*0.30 = 2.4, 2.4+8 = 10.4 or 8*1.3 = 10.4). Connection speed is then divided by this number giving an estimated download rate of 3.23 Kbytes (33,600/10.4 = 3,230 bytes or 3.23 Kbytes). An expected throughput range can be calculated by entering the minimum and maximum overhead percentage in the "Throughput Formula" below. The expected throughput range for a 33,600 bps connection speed would be 2.5 to 3.5 Kbytes per second under ideal circumstances.

Throughput Formula (Kbytes) = (Connection Speed (bps) / ((overhead percentage * 8) + 8)) / 1000

The ideal throughput for dedicated Internet services such as T-1 or DSL/ADSL is reduced by 15 to 35 percent due to overhead created from the following: LAN (Local Area Network) traffic and hardware, ISP traffic, WAN (Wide Area Network) or Internet traffic, the level of activity at the web host, routing protocols at the LAN, ISP, and Internet level, and variables beyond these mentioned.

For example, PPPoE (Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet) is generally slower than Static or Dynamic IP due to the fact that the PPPoE client attaches an additional 8 bytes of information to the packet before it sends it out. The additional 8 bytes create only a 0.6 percent overhead to the total throughput when making a large transfer, such as FTP. Overhead is calculated by first adding 8 bytes to the original file size, 1400 Kbytes for example, and then dividing the result by the original file size (1408/1400 = 1.0057). Next, multiply the answer by 100 to calculate the percentage (1.0057*100 = 100.57). Last, subtract 100 from the final number to give you the overhead percentage (100.57-100 = 0.57 or 0.6 percent).

However, in the case of web access, on-line gaming, telnet session and any other Internet applications that require a quick response time, PPPoE protocol overhead can be increased to 16 percent if each packet only carries 50 bytes of information. To calculate, add 8 bytes to a file size of 50 bytes, then divide the result by the file size, which results to a 16 percent overhead ((58/50)*100)-100 = 16 percent). In both examples the overhead is added only to the client's side. There is also an overhead percentage that must be added to the DSL ISP's server side. The overhead, in most instances, is greater on the ISP's server side than that of the client's side.

A 512,000 bps ADSL connection would in theory yield a data transfer rate of 64 Kbytes per second ((512,000/8)*1,000 = 64). Under ideal circumstances, with only a 25 percent overhead during data transfer, a throughput of 51.2 K per second is more realistic.

In summary, a definitive throughput speed or download rate is difficult to calculate due to the many variables affecting throughput. An estimated throughput speed or range is easier to calculate. To calculate the estimate or range throughput, an overhead percentage must be derived from the variables or conditions that altar or reduce throughput. Remember these variables are and include modem type, brand, firmware, driver, and connect speed, phone line quality, LAN activity and hardware, ISP activity, Internet activity, routing protocols at the LAN, ISP and Internet level, activity on the web host machine, and variables beyond these mentioned.

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Why can't I achieve a connection speed of 56,000 bps?

Currently, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) limits the maximum connection speed to 53,000 bps for the general health and well being of the entire public switched telephone network. The telephone network is more than capable of handling regular voice traffic; however, it was not engineered nor built to carry high-speed data transfers. Data traffic puts more demanding requirements on regular phone lines with respect to noise, loss, resistance, and signal levels. A change to the entire public switched telephone networks infrastructure and a new operating standard would be required to let data travel as fast as today's computers and modems.

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My modem is being used by another Dial-Up Networking connection or another program. How do I correct this?

Close all other communication programs. Which includes: fax software, 'operator' programs, and Call minder programs that may be using the modem’s COM port. You can view which programs are currently running on your computer by holding down the Alt key and then pushing the Tab key on your computer keyboard. You can also end/close these programs by pushing Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up 'Close Program,' select the item you want closed and press end task.

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How do I get Century’s home page to come up when I start Netscape Navigator?

If your copy of Netscape does not open automatically to the centurytel.net homepage, you may want to configure it to do so. Go to Navigator's Options menu, choose General Preferences and select the Appearance tab. Under "Browser Starts With", select Home Page Location, and type in the centurytel.net URL which is: http://www.centurytel.net/.

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How do I configure my mail and news in Netscape Navigator?

Netscape Navigator can be used to send and receive email, as well as read and respond to newsgroups. To check or change these settings, go to Navigator’s Options menu. Choose Mail and News Preferences. Under the Servers tab use the following information:

Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server:

 AR, CO, LA, TX, TN, MS    mail.so.centurytel.net
 OH, MI                    mail.gl.centurytel.net
 WI                        mail.mw.centurytel.net
 MT, OR, WA                mail.nw.centurytel.net
Incoming Mail (POP) Server:
 AR, CO, LA, TX, TN, MS    mail.so.centurytel.net
 OH, MI                    mail.gl.centurytel.net
 WI                        mail.mw.centurytel.net
 MT, OR, WA                mail.nw.centurytel.net
POP User Name:
 Your Century login ID (cenxxxxx)
News (NNTP) Server:
 AR, CO, LA, TX, TN, MS    news.so.centurytel.net
 OH, MI                    news.gl.centurytel.net
 WI                        news.mw.centurytel.net
 MT, OR, WA                news.nw.centurytel.net
Under the Identity tab:
  • Your Name: Fill in your name as you wish to be known to the Internet.
  • It will be placed on all your e-mail. You can choose to leave this field blank.
  • Your E-mail: example: jdoe@centurytel.net
  • Reply-to address: example: jdoe@centurytel.net, or left blank.

Under: 'Messages are copied from the server to the local disk, then:'

  • Make sure you have a check mark in 'Removed from the server.'
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My computer disconnects from the Internet at random times soon after I connect. What is happening?

This problem is commonly caused by an analog phone line. Some lines are inherently "noisy." You may not notice it on the telephone with someone, but the computer is very sensitive to any modulation in the line signal. There are some steps to prevent this from happening. This is recommended only if you are have problems maintaining a connection to the Internet for an extended period of time.

First determine if the disconnects are random, occurring at regular intervals, or during specific operations. Listed below are some reasons your modem may disconnect unexpectedly:

Time Out
centurytel.net may disconnect you if there is no activity for 15 or 20 minutes. There is also a setting in Windows 95/98 that allows you to disconnect after "a certain number of" minutes of inactivity. This setting can usually be found in the Control Panel, under the icon named "Internet" or "Internet Options."

Call Waiting
If you have Call Waiting, receiving a call while you are currently connected may result in the modem disconnecting. For this reason, if you have Call Waiting on your phone line you should disable it while you're online. This is done by dialing a disable code before the phone number you dial to go online (eg: *70 (715) 873-1234). The Call Waiting disable code is usually either *70 or 70# depending on your phone service. Check with your local phone company for the correct code.

Bad Connection
If your modem is unable to maintain an adequate quality of connection with your POP, it may terminate the connection.

Software Conflict
When you connect to centurytel.net, you are using PPP software. This software, like any other, may conflict with other software or system extensions running on your computer. The solution, in such a case, is to isolate the conflict and eliminate it. The most likely candidates for a conflict are other communications applications and system extensions.

Modem Speed
The modem speed may be set too high or too low. 28.8 modems should be set to 38400, and a 14.4 modem should be set to 19200. If this does not work, try different speeds.

IRQ conflicts are the most difficult to explain. If your modem is using an IRQ that is in use by another device or is being reserved by one of the computers other comports, then you may have some problems; eventually, if not immediately. If you feel that this IRQ conflict is causing your problem, you will need to contact your computer or modem vendor.

Fax machines and answering machines that are using the same line as the modem have been known to cause disconnects. Disable any fax machine(s) or answering machine(s) and try connecting to the Internet without them. Simply turning them off may not have the desired effect. To be certain, unplug the machine(s) and check to see that your modem is connected directly to the wall port (phone jack).

Phone Lines
What may work for voice communication, may not work well for data communication-especially high speed data communication using networking protocols. The Internet is demanding and everything has to be perfect, or close to it. If you have tried all of the above and are still getting disconnected, then have your phone lines checked. In most areas, it costs you nothing, and can only help in your quest. Have your local telephone company check for things such as Bridgetap and Loaded Coils. There have been a number of customers that had to have their phone companies check the line more than once. It seems the first time, they only checked it for voice quality. Make sure you specify what you intend to use it for, and make certain that they understand the importance of checking it for "data quality."

Also, be careful if you do not have a dedicated modem line. Someone could be picking up an extension in another room and disrupting your online session.

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What is my Login Account Name? User name? Login ID?

All three of these are the same. You should type in the Login ID that appears in the packet you received from centurytel.net. The Login ID looks like this: cen#####.

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Can I change my password? It's too hard to remember!

Yes, you can change your password using our Password Change Utility.

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Is my login password the same as my e-mail password?

Yes, it is the same.

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What is my e-mail address?

Century’s Internet e-mail system relies on your Login ID and an alias that points to your account. Your e-mail account will always be the Login ID, but your e-mail address may be anything you would like it to be, unless it has already been chosen by another user (each e-mail address must be unique).

To select your e-mail alias, go to the E-Mail Alias Registration Page. You will need to fill out all of the required fields (labeled in red). Enter the alias you would like to have in the field labeled "Preferred Alias." For example, if you would like the e-mail address "joe@centurytel.net" then put "joe" in that field. When you're finished filling in all the required information, click the 'Register Alias' button at the bottom of the page. Your e-mail address will be created and will be available for use starting the following day.

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How do I know where to go on the World Wide Web?

There are several great search engines on the web that help you find interesting sites. A search engine is a web site that is devoted to searching all the other web sites. It gives you links to Web sites pertaining to whatever you type in. We have a page designed to make searching the Internet more convenient for you. Simply type in a few words that describe what you are looking for, and you will be presented with literally hundreds of links to explore.

Another way to discover new resources on the Internet is to visit the sites included in prime-time television advertisements. If you are interested in finding out more about that company or product, just type the address into your web-browser.

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How can I create my own web page?

Visit the Web Developer Zone for step-by-step instructions for getting your own Web site with centurytel.net!

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How do I get into chat rooms?

With centurytel.net service, your options for chat rooms are virtually unlimited — from simple but limited interfaces to full Internet Relay Chat (IRC) access. The simplest choice would be to use your Netscape or Internet Explorer browser and go to http://chat.yahoo.com. This page provides chat services to anyone who wants it. It has a very simple, intuitive interface that takes the complexity out of chatting via the Internet.

For more advanced users, you may download different programs that let you connect to the vast IRC network. One such program can be found at http://www.mirc.co.uk. This page gives you the opportunity to download the program needed to access this network and provides a great help page to get you started.

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Help us make the Online Help Desk better! Submit a question to be added by e-mailing support@centurytel.net.

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