Troubleshooting Dialup Disconnections

This article will help you troubleshoot any issues with your Westnet Dialup service.

Please note that in December 2015 we retired all old dialup numbers - to dial up, you'll need to dial 0198 333 955.


You may have call waiting turned on, and that little "beep beep" you normally hear when another call is coming through is throwing the modem off. To turn it off you need to dial #43# before connecting; to re-enable it, dial *43#.

Telephone double adaptors and very long extension cables can cause dropouts. Phone cables come in different qualities. If you are getting poor performance from the modem and a lot of dropouts, good quality phone cable is worth investing in. If possible, see if it makes a difference plugging the modem directly into the phone line with no other devices attached anywhere in the house.

Telephony between a digital mobile phone (familiar to some as the "dit-diddit" noise that comes out of any nearby speaker when their mobile is doing something) and a GSM cellular base station can cause severe data transmission loss that can terminate a modem call.

If you have a burglar alarm which automatically dials and transmits data, this will affect your line quality. Ensure your modem communications are not carried out during the alarms communication cycle.

Anything electric can cause interference with your modem, especially appliances which give off lots of radio interference. Check what is turned on that is in close proximity of the phone line/modem. Things you might want to watch out for are

  • Televisions and radios
  • Microwaves
  • Refrigerators (especially when it cycles on and off)
  • Washing machines going in to a spin cycle
  • Air-conditioners

If you get a better connection when those things are off or on another power circuit, try a surge protector. Electronics and computer stores usually carry them.

Poor waterproofing on the phone lines is also a problem for modems, and it's likely that this is the case if the problem gets worse when it is raining or if it's recently been raining. You may be able to hear interference on the line as crackle and background hiss.

Loose or degraded telephone line wiring can also create noise on the line, leading to disconnections. The copper wire which runs around your house, down several streets and into your local exchange is made up of segments which vary in age, gauge and quality. If it's in a poor state, nothing else you do at your house will make any difference.

Modern 56K modems push the phone line to the limit, and need to retrain (change their transmission speed) to keep up with the line conditions. It takes a few seconds to do this retraining, and these are the pauses you may experience.

Sometimes, when the retraining occurs, it can't successfully negotiate a new speed and will hang up.

This problem becomes more pronounced the faster the modem runs; if you are experiencing difficulties it may be wise to "lock" your modem at a certain speed. First try intermediate speeds such as 44kbps, 40kbps etc. Failing all else, turn off K56Flex/V90 in your modem all together and connect with 33.6kbps.

Check your modem manual for instructions on how to do this, or try strings from the following:

For 56k flex modems try:

  • Forcing 44kbps: +ms=56,1,1200,44000
  • Forcing 42kbps: +ms=56,1,1200,42000
  • Forcing 40kbps: +ms=56,1,1200,40000

For 56k V90 modems try:

  • Forcing 44kbps: +ms=12,1,1200,44000
  • Forcing 42kbps: +ms=12,1,1200,42667
  • Forcing 38kbps: +ms=12,1,1200,38000

If your modem has problems accepting the above strings, try:

  • Forcing 44kbps: +ms=v90,1,1200,44000
  • Forcing 42kbps: +ms=v90,1,1200,42667
  • Forcing 38kbps: +ms=v90,1,1200,38000

And so forth, down to:

  • Forcing 33.6kbps: +ms=11,1,1200,33600

If your modem has problems accepting the above string, try:

  • Forcing 33.6kbps: +ms=v34,1,1200,33600

To set a string under Windows once you have one, see Adding a modem string on Windows. If none of the strings above work with your modem, please refer to your modem's manual.

Mac OS X users can only set strings by use of specialised programs (recommended) or by altering the start-up sequence of Mac OS X. However, it's possible to slow down the speed of the modem without a special program by doing the following:

  1. Go to the Apple icon in the top left corner, then select "System Preferences"
  2. Double-click the "Network" icon
  3. Go to the "Modems" tab and select the V.34 version of the modem you're currently using from the dropdown menu
  4. Click "Apply Now" to apply the settings
  1. Make sure that the telephone cable is plugged into the correct modem socket (usually "Line").
  2. Test the line to make sure that there is a dial-tone by plugging a telephone into the same socket and trying to make a call from it.
  3. If you have Telstra MessageBank, you will hear a different beeping dial-tone. Your modem will not recognise it as a dial tone and you will not be able to dial out.

You can change settings on your computer to ignore dial-tone and dial regardless. In Windows 95/98 untick the option "wait for dial tone before dialing" in your modem properties. In Mac OS X tick "Ignore the dial tone" in your dialler or modem properties. You can also try adding X3 to your modem initialisation string.

Telstra does not recommend such systems for modem transmissions and recommend installing a specific data line outside of your phone system for modem and fax.

In a pinch, you can try dialling the line out number like "0" or "9" before the phone number in your dialup settings, but your connection will not be as good as through a dedicated line.

Your modem has been set up to show the port speed, which can be changed in modem properties on your system. It is reporting the speed between your modem and your computer instead of the speed between your modem and the ISP. To show the actual connection speed add w2 to your initialisation string.

This is common when you have a fax machine or a telephone plugged into the same phone line as the modem. Some older telephones draw electrical current from the phone line every 5 to 20 minutes. This is enough to interrupt the modem's carrier signal and make it drop the connection in confusion.

To solve this, you can:

  • Unplug the phone when you use your modem
  • Buy a newer phone

Telstra also recommends that a "Mode 3" socket is installed for use with the modem, if any other equipment is in parallel with it. This will isolate the other equipment on the line whilst the modem is in use.

See Browsing Issues.