I am only connecting between 26.4kbps and 31.2kbps or worse. Why could this be happening?
Slow modem speeds can definitely be a problem. However, contrary to POP3ular opinion it is rarely a case with the ISP itself. Listed below are a couple of things that you can do to see if you can increase that speed up at all.
1) Your modem is in need of a driver and/or firmware update. Most modem manufacturers will make driver or firmware updates for their modems every year or so. With technology progressing as fast as it is, these driver updates are produced to make sure that your modem is working as optimally as it can be. Check with the manufacturer of the modem (either via their website or via phone) to see if there are updated drivers that you can download and install so that it is up-to-date.
2) There is interference in your phone lines that cause slow speeds. Line noise on a phone line will make a connection very susceptible to slow speeds. Even you do not hear any audible static when you talk on the phone, that does not mean that it might not still be there. Data connections are very sensitive to even the slightest noise. To test this, you can contact your telephone company and have them do a loop-back test. This will allow them to see if there is any discernable noise on your lines and correct it if necessary.
3) You are too far from your phone company's Central Office or your lines are too degraded to establish a fast connection. Establishing a decent V.90 connection becomes difficult when you live in an area that is not close to a phone co. central office. The data cannot travel the distance to get routed to the internet before it is forced to be degraded to a slower connect speed. If this is the case, the speeds faster then 31.2kbps become virtually impossible. There could also be hindrances in your inside wiring that could cause problems. If your telephone access device has a test port, you can theoretically hook your modem directly into the outside wiring and test your connection. This test is normally difficult to accomplish as the telephone access device (NID) is sometimes inaccessible. There are sometimes other ways to test your inside wiring as well. You can also try to take your computer to a nearby location (friend's or relative's) and see if you can get faster speeds from there.
4) The telephone company implemented Subscriber Loop Carrier in your region. SLC (pronounced as "slick") is a device employed by phone companies to double the line capacity. SLC's are often used in highly built up suburban areas or rural areas with recent land development (within the last 20 years). SLC's are installed when the phone co. runs out of copper wire and needs to add additional phone lines. As a result of this line splitting, each line can only achieve half the speed or a regular line. 56k (or 64k) divided by 2 is approx. 28k (or 32k). Since the standard speeds of 28.8k (or 33.6k) are higher than these #s, it downgrades to the next lowest speed which is 26.4k (or 31.2k). These are the speeds that most users behind a SLC will achieve. If this is the case, then there is nothing that can be done to increase your modem speed.