I believe it is an internet modem. It comes with where we live and is available to other tenants with their own individual connections. So we never really thought about it. Just googled the model number and that is what it says it is.

Our computer is chugging away, and we can't load umbuntu at all. By the way, how would we get to the command line from just booting the live CD, as opposed to having it installed completely first?

Again, thanks for your patience and any replies at all are appreciated - even if you get back to me later so you aren't taking time waiting here. we've literally been struggling with this for 3 full days.