Possibly easy dial-up connection question

Hello. I have a work laptop as I’m generally based at clients. In order to check email I have a plain old connection cable to dial-up to the company’s ISP. The problem: it only works with analogue phone lines. Since many of my clients have digital phone systems, I can’t dial up.

I understand that you can get converters, or some other kind of other device that can get round this. Questions: what are these devices properly called (a Google search brought a lot of irrelevant hits, and my dial-up isn’t that reliable tonight), how much do they generally cost, how bulky are they, how reliable are they (i.e. do they work with pretty much any digital system?) and does anyone know a reputable brand or source for them in the UK?


Okay. I’ve only managed to find one product available (Targus PA041E). It’s expensive – since I won’t be able to claim it on expenses, I’m being cheap – and the size of a small brick when bulk is a serious consideration. Are there really no other common brands available at the moment?

I can’t help you in your product search, but I do have a tip.

Find the FAX line. Most FAX lines are analog lines with their own phone numbers, not connected to a PBX or digital extension.

So, if you really need access, go find the FAX jack, unplug the FAX, and plug your modem in there.

FAX lines are also good ways to make long distance and international calls in locations where management restricts long distance dialing from extensions.

I’ve heard of some such devices, and have seen them in airline magizenes. I don’t know how effective they are. But have 2 alternate suggestions (or 3).

1 the old acustic coupling, where the handset is used directly will work on almost any phone (the modem works via sound from/to the phone). Speeds are low and 9.6 might be what you get regularly but from what I have heard this is the most versital way to go.

2 The other way (and the one I use) is a connection to a cellphone. Most cellphones have a data cable available that will allow you to use it like an external modem (and fax). I normally get 14.4 (or 19.6 w/ compression). It’s not the fastest way to go but it is fast enough for email and even limited surfing. Usually it just costs minutes from the plan, verizon wireless provides the ISP as part of the wireless package, you can also call up other ISP dialup numbers.

2a cellular highspeed internet might be an option too, but the cost rises pretty fast using it.

Better still a phone with an IR port - that’s what I use.

Anyway, I take it there’s no possibility of accessing the internet via the client’s LAN?

Yeah, the fax line is my usual resort, but it generally isn’t a great solution since the fax machine is often in a separate room, not easily accessible and often in use by the client.

Mangetout - I currently end up dialing up crouched behind a desk trying to use the fax line, or using my mobile for an IR dial-up (which gets me all of about 9.6kbps). It’s a pricy way of doing it as my work ISP won’t work with the mobile (it uses proprietary software and scripts for an RSA-based security login on my local machine, and doesn’t play nice) and my home ISP is surcharging for using anything other than my registered home phone number.

Cheers for the responses.

Oh, re: LAN access. Usually a no-no. Client IT staff hate giving consultants access to their networks, and we don’t usually push it to avoid any security and virus risks (to both parties).

If you have to use the fax line, then you might want to get yourself one of these - at least you wouldn’t have to balance your PC on your knee behind the potted plants.

I’ve got our company’s cheap equivalent - the retraction mechanism is so touchy I’ve cracked knuckles and nails more times than I care to mention!