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A Fine Line
If you want to install an ISDN line, but already have two regular phone lines, you might get hit with a surcharge. Some local companies will install two lines of any kind without a special surcharge, but tack one on for that third connection. You might want to check with your phone company in case you'd rather convert one of your current lines to ISDN instead of adding a line.
For Business or Pleasure
Before calling for an ISDN hookup, check what packages your phone company offers for both business and residences. Some services may be absent from a business package, and with a residential package you won't be able to list the phone number in the yellow pages. Depending on your needs, you might want to tell them the line is for business purposes even if the service is in a residential area, or vice versa.
Don't Hesitate, Accelerate!
If you use Windows 95 and an internal ISDN modem, Microsoft's native drivers could give you a performance boost. You can both check your modem's compatibility with the drivers and download the drivers from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/software/isdn.htm.
For Your Eyes Only
Like regular phone numbers, you can choose to have your ISDN numbers unlisted or unpublished. Unlisted numbers are not printed in the phone book, but can be given out by an operator. Unpublished numbers are not printed or given out. Keep in mind, however, that both services usually cost extra.
If your external terminal adapter seems to send data quickly, but chokes when receiving, the problem could be your serial port. Make sure the port has a 16550 UART, and that the port is configured for maximum throughput in Device Manager.
Stop Phone Foolery
If folks are abusing your ISDN line, you might be able to prevent them from making three types of calls: calls to 900 and 976 numbers; international long-distance calls; and in-country long-distance calls. Check with your phone company for the availability of these blocking options.
Because ISDN phone numbers and SPIDs (service profile IDs) are seldom used, it's easy to forget them. Taping them to the back of your modem provides a good reminder and keeps them close at hand.
Buy a Line Online
Microsoft offers a great service for ordering ISDN lines. It's actually a series of wizard-like Web pages that can place an ISDN order with your local phone company after you respond to a handful of simple questions. Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/getisdn/orderwm.htm.
If your external ISDN modem is connected to a UPS-protected mission-critical system, be sure to plug the terminal adapter into a UPS, too. If the TA requires an NT1 device, don't forget to plug that in as well.
Traveling Terminal Adapter
You might be able to use your ISDN terminal adapter abroad. First, it should not have an integral NT1 (NT1s are provided by the phone companies outside the United States). Second, if you wish to use it for voice calls, it must have a switch to change over from mu-law to A-law encoding. Last, you must check the modem's interoperability with the services and equipment of the country you're headed to.
When selecting ISDN modems for an installation, try to use units that can automatically detect the SPID (service profile ID) for the connection. That'll reduce set-up time and eliminate one configuration parameter.
Intel has a service that can provide a lot of free advice on ISDN service and equipment, including specifics for your area. Call them at 800-538-3373 x208.
While shopping for a terminal adapter that you plan to use it solely in North America, make sure to buy one with a built-in NT1 interface. The interface is necessary to connect the TA to the ISDN phone line.
Stay in Touch
Moving your terminal adapter to another room? If it uses an NT1, try to leave the NT1 connected to the incoming ISDN line. The phone company's equipment might mistake the disconnection for a problem, causing the ISDN line to shut down until you make a service call.
Enhance Your Communications
If the communications needs of your office are growing, you can use your ISDN line to add services like Call Forwarding, Call Hold, Automatic Recall, Speed Calling, ICLID (incoming calling line identification) and multiline hunt groups.