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Wow, a lot of information but I'm unclear as to what you are trying to do.
Are you connecting the T20 directly to the T40 using a cat5 cable and then trying to access the internet on the T20 via the modem?
Connecting the two computer together using a normal cat5 will not work, you need to use a crossover cable otherwise you are connecting the send to the send and the receive to the receive.
You can also use a hub, a switch or a router if you have any of those on hand.
As for the modem, I suggest you unplug the telephone line from the modem and plug it into a phone and see if you can hear a dial tone. If you cannot hear a tone either the extension is bad (replace) or you outlet is defective. If you can hear a tone, the modem card may be defective.
why fight it , let it be on com 1 then, go into the bios and disable the serial ports . that may be the easiest fix as long as you don't need the serial port for anything. but if you have a serial mouse oh boy.
Now if that is not the cas maybe you are incorrectly installing aol. Start up your aol. If it specifies broadband at login box change to dialup or go to setup and let aol automactically detect your modem. If problem still persists. Reinstall software when prompted make sure you select dialup. Now if you are using broadband and asking for dialup. Or go to the control panel and remove your modem driver, shut down and restart. It should put the modem back. Any more questions post comment.
Connect your wireless modem router
Sign on to AOL.
Download the AOL Easy Installer for Thomson 576 Wireless Modem Router.
When prompted to save the file to a location select an appropriate place (desktop is a good example).
Once the AOL Easy Installer is downloaded, double click the file: ST_V1.exe
This will launch the modem router installer and show the "Welcome" screen.
Click the Start Installation button to continue. If you wish to cancel, click the Cancel Installation button.
Read the next page carefully. The text advises to close any running programs, ensure to close your AOL software also. Click Next to continue.
Connect a DSL filter to each telephone socket that is in use for telephones, dial-up modems and fax machines, etc.
If you require additional DSL filters, order online at AOL Keyword Broadband Extras.
Ensure to use AOL 8.0 or above.
The AOL account to be used for the modem router set up must be a General (18+) account.
This installer is not supported with a modem router containing beta firmware.