"every time there is a thunder storm within about five miles of us, all our phones get fried."
Blimey, I'd move! or develop a taste for plastic chips, all puns intended;-)
We live in an area of France that gets frequent and violent storms and have never had a problem, yet, and I leave the computer and modem on 24/24 with a connection to PCA and my Wanadoo home page, and sometimes one or two other sites.
I am under the impression that the external earth for the phone is the most efficient there is, I hope this is correct or else I will have to get a taste for deep fried chips! Mind you, some of the ones I have had tasted like plastic.