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Where Does the Modem Go?

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Modem Setup

When installing an internal modem or any card that uses COM ports, make sure you know what ports your computer is already using and what is available. Generally computers are capable of addressing four COM ports (COM1, COM2, COM3, and COM4). If the computer's motherboard includes built-in serial ports or a built-in modem, the COM number may be fixed or it may be set through jumpers or the BIOS. Expansion cards or modem cards may be set through jumpers on the card, some may have tiny little switches or it may be set through software. Check all devices to make sure they are all using different COM settings so they wont conflict with the COM setting of the modem. 

Windows makes things more difficult when choosing COM ports, because it may give you problems if the COM number is out of sequence. For example, if the computer is already using COM1 and COM2, and you install a modem at COM4, Windows may have problems because there is nothing at COM3. For this reason, always fill COM port numbers in order.

One last note: if you are adding an external modem, you don't have to worry about rearranging COM ports. Instead, you have to worry about what the computer's serial port is capable of. Most older systems (including many '486 computers) have a maximum serial port speed of 9600 baud. These can be identified by an 8550 UART chip. Systems using a 16550 UART don't have this limitation.


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