Powerbook in Greece?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by sandbags, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. sandbags macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2004
    Help! Can any of you experts advise on a very basic problem? A friend of mine, on holiday in the States, bought herself a Mac PowerBook G4 to use at home in Greece where we both live.

    She succcessfully set it up, but when she came to read the instruction book in order to set up the Internet connection, it said something to this effect: “This computer must in no circumstances be plugged in to a digital phone line, at risk of damaging the internal modem”.

    Now as we understand it, Greece has had a fully digital phone system for at least three years. What is she supposed to do?

    She has spoken to four Mac helpline experts in the USA and UK, who all say different things. She has talked to the phone company and her local computer shop, with no joy. One person told her she would not be able to use the laptop in Greece. Another told her to plug it in and ignore the book. A third told her she probably needed an adaptor but didn’t know what kind, and went on to suggest that she ask the phone company to restore her analog phone line. The last one suggested she buy a wireless base in order to use the PowerBook’s wireless option, but could not tell her whether it would be ok to plug the base into a digital phone line.

    There is a lot of money, for her, at stake here. Can anyone help? We are both computer-literate but we are not techies like you guys, so please use words of two syllables when replying!

    Many thanks
  2. Fauldzy macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2004
    Dartford, Kent, UK
    Right let me state I am no 'techie' but your welcome to take my advice, take it or leave it.

    Now as I understand it there are two main types of phone line: analogue which uses frequency's to send signal & of course digital which is fairly self explainatory and sends signals using binary (0's & 1's)

    So in effect you have two totally different ways of sending and receiving data. Now in your powerbook there is an internal dial up modem, I believe that you can ONLY use this modem to send and receive signal in the analogue form of frequency's. IF what you say is true about the phone system being digitalised I do believe (& Apple advises) you risk damaging your internal modem if u attempt to connect and try to dial up using your current phone line. Why risk it anyway, it will be an expensive mistake if something goes wrong!

    What you need to do first is to find out now if your fone system is either digital or analogue. Your phone company will be able to tell you this. If your digitalised read on....

    Correct me if im wrong anyone but I believe the answer to the problem would be looking into getting broadband & this is of course a hell of a lot faster than dial up anyway!

    Broadband can then be connected via your eithernet port or you may require another external broadband modem. This modem should then plug into your USB port. Alternatively you could purchase a basestation
    (or the like) and ultilise the massive advantage of wireless!!

    Hope this helps. Feel free to message back if you need further advice... Iv tried my best. :D

  3. Wash!! macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    here, there, who knows
    Find out

    What they use to connect "other" computers don't tell them it's a mac because they automatically will tell you it does not work.. is a windows thing...see if you can find a USB modem that works in Greece, they must have them for sale there.

    Other than that get broadband an go ethernet..

    my 2¢
  4. sandbags thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2004
    PowerBook in Greece

    Forgot to mention: we don't have broadband in Greece. (Well, we do in places, but not in our neck of the hills!)
  5. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    Do you have USB modems?
  6. CalfCanuck macrumors 6502a

    Nov 17, 2003
    All laptops have an analog modem

    First, there is a difference between analog and digital phone lines. You can't plug an analog modem into a digital line. Many laptop accessory companies sell "testers" for travellers to check digital libnes, line integrity, crossed wires (yes, many phones are incorrectly wired), etc.

    Second, all laptops ship with a standard, inexpensive analog modem (I have never seen a digital one yet, though I imagine it could be bought). So this is not a Mac problem.

    So of course there must be a solution for the millions of Windows boxes that Greeks are currently using. (My Greek friends studying in Germany in 2001 brought analog modems on their laptops purchased in Greece).

    The solution wil be easily found at the telecom company or your local computer store. Don't throw them down the wrong trail by asking if a Mac will work there- that's irrelevant because a modem is a modem, Mac or Windows. They'll just say "No" if you ask them about Macs because they don't know any better.

    Finally, when you say Greece has a "fully digital system", are you merely talking about an ISDN type system? If so, the "breakout box" that handles the various signals (from a FAX machine, phone, answering machine, etc) probably has an analog input for your modem, and thus will solve your problem.

    Almost all phone lines in the US are "digital" as well, (that's what fiber optics uses) but are converted back to analog for the "last mile".
  7. Coolvirus007 macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2004
    I might be talking out of my a** here but when I used to live in the UK when I got my dsl activated, they said that they would activate the digital signal alongside my analog signal. I was still able to use my analog phone but I had to you a filter which split the digital and analog signals. So if you use an analog phone at home straight from the socket, your probably line isn't digital.

    As I said, this is just speculation... from a newbie.
  8. abhishekit macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2003
    akron , ohio
    First, Digital lines have higher voltage..so yah..it certainly may cause problem with your modem..
    second, i really dont think u have digital lines all the way, in greece..its very unlikely..As CalfCanuck put it, last mile should be digital..
    What kind of phones do u use? Do all of them have LCDs and multifuctional buttons? if not..u hv analog line ..
  9. cjv macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2004
    Re: Powerbook in Greece?


    Well ... Where do I start? As far as the fully digital phone system is concerned, this quite typically refers to the phone network as seen by the phone companies, which means that their automatic exchanges are talking to each other via digital lines (fiber-optic or copper). The digitalisation of this basically was a requirement that came alongside the European Commission's attempts at opening the (often state monopoly - based) phone networks to private competition. (When you're a competitor, it is not much fun to have to construct interfaces to more than 40 year old analogue exchanges which don't support this sort of interfacing too well anyway, so they had to take this step.)

    But for your friend's PowerBook, the user side ("last mile") is much more interesting: the line which ends up at your building. This could be analogue or ISDN. Now, the implication with ISDN lines (or other kinds of digital lines such as those offered in PBX systems used in companies e.g.) is that you will need special phones to use those, because their needs to be an analogue/digital conversion as well as some sort of software which handles the call control etc (info from the data bus, which the phone line actually is, says: "there's somebody calling, their number is this-and-that" --> reaction of the software: display the number on the display, make the phone ring, etc. - you get the idea).

    So a good and easy way to check whether you actually have a digital or an analogue line is the following: get a really old phone (I'm talking 20 years or older, preferrably with a rotary dial - you know, the indestructible type) and hook it up to exactly the socket which you are intending to plug your PowerBook into. These kinds of phones should be quite easy to find in Greece, just as much as they're still easy to come by here in Germany. When it's plugged in, lift the receiver. If you hear the usual dial tone, you can be *sure* that it is an analogue line. Old phones don't have the slightest idea about digital data - ISDN phones turned up on the market in the early 1990s (and never had rotary dials ...).

    When you *don't* hear your familiar dial tone, this could mean a) the phone is connected in a wrong way, or b) it actually is an ISDN line. But, like I said, since ISDN lines need ISDN phones attached to them, the customer usually knows that they have one.

    When it is an analogue line, connecting a laptop shouldn't really be a problem. Personally, I don't believe in "higher voltages" and stuff - there are common rules for analogue lines in the European Union, and I'm pretty sure that Apple included a modem in their PowerBook which conforms to those rules - otherwise they wouldn't be permitted to sell the device in a number of countries. Whether the particular Greek phone company knows about those technical rules is an entirely different question, of course. ;-) But I expect that they pretty much threw away all old switching equipment just a few years ago, so it all should be fairly up-to-date.

    If you are *sure* you have an ISDN line: I've made good experiences which a little device called "MiniVigor 128" by DrayTek (www.draytek.com.tw). It's an ISDN interface one connects to the USB port of the PowerBook. Comes with MacOS X drivers and works fine here in Germany.

    Another nice thing to have when you're on the road with your laptop: a miniature analogue phone like the "dnt talk2U" (see http://www.futurebytes.ch/content/article/1009402147.php). When you're in a hotel room, and don't know what kind of phone connection there might be, for instance. Better kill a $30 tiny analogue phone than your PowerBook. :)

    Well, that was a lot of text. Hope it was useful.


  10. jsnuff1 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2003
    wow didnt know there were that many greek mac users hehe, skeeball i have the exact same background except that i was born in greece ;)
    yia! kai efxome na faxies to provlima sandbags :)

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