Software on the other end can play a role too. Connecting to CompuServe, which supports v.32, works fine, but you only enjoy a speed increase in uploading and downloading files. Transferring mail and forum messages in Navigator doesn’t go much faster, and it’s not worth the significantly higher connect charges for most people. If you download files from CompuServe regularly, work out a system for transferring files at a high speed, then hanging up and getting mail and messages at 2,400 bps.
Similarly, America Online (AOL) doesn’t yet support speeds faster than 2,400 bps, partly from a software standpoint and partly because they probably haven’t figured out how to charge for it yet. Users have been screaming for the faster lines and software on AOL’s end to support them for some time, and Steve Case, president of America Online, has assured us that it will happen in the near future, although that was months ago. I don’t use GEnie or Prodigy, but again, it doesn’t matter what speed you can use if they can’t match it in hardware and software. Check that, because the claims about a faster modem paying for itself in reduced connect charges may not apply to your specific situation. Sad but true.
If you connect to an Internet machine, I expect that you will have more luck in finding fast modems and appropriate software on the remote end. In addition, generic mainframes seldom have speed limitations on their dial-up lines because those dial-up lines essentially emulate a directly-connected terminal. Reading Usenet with nn or rn becomes a joy rather than a bore, and if your site has the latest and greatest software, you might be able to use SLIP and one of the many useful free or shareware programs that require a SLIP connection. I recently set up a SLIP connection, and have seen throughputs as high as 1,700 characters per second (roughly 17,000 bps) with compression on a v.32bis connection.