Tag Archives: ADSL

decopperfied

copper

Today I disconnected my ADSL modem through which I still had the landline telephone service running. I've cancelled the service so at the end of the month it will die and I'm now instead signing up to one of them lesser known companies that offer cheap IP-telephony that is network independent: Affinity telecom. Staying with only phone service over the copper was not a good idea since the cheapest service is still expensive over that medium.

Why have a landline phone at all? I've decided to stick with a landline telephone for a few reasons: first, our phone number is distributed widely and it is convenient to keep it working and keeping it reach our house instead of a specific person. Secondly, we have two kids who like to phone at times and they can use this fine and it'll end up cheaper than if they'd use their own mobile phones. And thirdly, the parents-in-law factor. My parents and my wife's parents etc like calling landlines instead of mobile phones, I think partly due to old habits but also partly because it is cheaper for them...

Ping Communication Voice Catcher 201E

When I researched which service to pick I discovered that not a single operator exists in Sweden that only charges for usage. They all have a minimum monthly fee, so I went with one of the cheapest I could find on prisjakt for my usage pattern.

I simply yanked the RJ11 from the ADSL modem and inserted into my new "Ping Communications Voice Catcher 201E" device (see picture) that I received. The instructions that come with the device say I should connect it directly to internet and then let my existing LAN traffic route through it. I don't want to add yet another box between me and the internet and I fear that a cheapo box like this might cause problems in one way or another if I do, so I just plugged this new toy into my router and after I while I could happily confirm that it worked just as nicely. It got an IP from my DHCP server and I can call my old-style analog phone now (I love number portability) and I can use it to call out to my mobile.

I'm curious to see how good/bad this is going to work...

Update: It didn't work to make the box a regular DHCP client. Even if I made it into a DMZ it still wouldn't work to accept calls. I would only get a signal and everything, but once I answered the phone there was no sound. In the end I moved it to sit between "internet" and my local router and now my phone seems to be doing fine.

My five ADSL modems

bredbandsbolagetI previously blogged when my network hardware died. Here's the recap and continuation of that story and how things evolved...

One day my ADSL modem could no longer get sync, I couldn't send data and my (landline) phone was dead. My phone is connected into the ADSL modem through which it does IP telephony. Other times this has happened I could just switch off the modem for 10 seconds and then back on again it would work again for another 6 months or a year or so.

I've had ADSL at roughly 12mbit working flawlessly for several years so this was an unexpected breakage.

On 14 sep 16:16 I called my operator's (Bredbandsbolaget) support about the issue when the modem hadn't been able to get contact for a whole day - I was suspecting some kind of glitch in the service from the other end. The support person said that I had a "very old modem" and they immediately decided to send me a new modem by mail that would fix my problems.

xavi technologies x5258-p2At 16 sep 18:51 I called support again. I received modem #2 and installed it this day. The modem, Xavi Technologies X5258-P2, is a much more fancy model than what I had been using for the last couple of years - the new one had 4 Ethernet ports and wifi. Not that I really care about that cruft as I want to use my own wifi router anyway to get control of things better.

When I plugged in modem #2 I noticed that it lit up the 'phone' LED at once (which normally would only be on if I use the phone) and while internet data seemed to work, the phone did not. When I called support again to ask about this, they decided it was a broken modem they had sent me and would send me a replacement at once.

A few days later I got modem #3 and installed it. I also got the joy of sending back two ADSL modems.

3 oct 20:25 - I called the support again. Modem #3 hung occasionally and I wanted to get their help to fix the problem. The support guy I talked to claimed his sometimes happens if a wifi router is too close to the modem and adviced me to put my ADSL modem and wifi router further apart. It sounded like a suspicious analysis and theory to me, as why would the modem completely hang from this and if it did, why would it keep on running for days at times after a reboot? The support person also revealed that he had detailed logs going back a few weeks at least where he could see my ADSL modem power recycles and he could also see "bad CRC" counters going up before my restarts. I moved my devices two meters apart.

A little side-story: the modem has wifi support, but as I run my own wifi router behind it I don't want the modem's wifi. I noticed it ran on a different channel than my regular one so it wasn't an immediate concern. It did however turn out that in order to switch it off I had to configure that with a Windows program and in order to install that program I had to enter a username and password that I didn't have. Asking support for the credentials, they instead offered to simply disable the wifi from their end instead. That was fine by me, but again showed what fancy controls they have over these things.

For a week or so my connection actually was better and I actually thought my suspicions about the fishy advice were wrong. But no. It turned out I was only lucky for a few days as then it started hanging again every few days. It would stop transfering data in/out, and the "phone" led would blink slowly. How on earth could a device like this hang in any circumstance? I've been an embedded developer all my professional life, I know hanging is the worst possible thing. I much better but still ugly way to resolve a problem without any obvious way out, would be to reboot. A reboot would've been annoying as well, but far from as annoying as this.

Now, after all, I have a fiber installation coming "soon" so I figured I could possibly just shut up and endure this ADSL mess and it will go away or at least change drastically once I get my new connection...

But eventually it got too tedious, also partly because my kids and my wife also found it annoying and troubling - I had to give up the eduring. The fiber installtion also seemed to be delayed. Who knows how long I was supposed to remain on ADSL.

So, on 5 dec 18:38 I was back on the phone with the support people and complained about the hangs I frequently get with modem #3. The guy listened to me explaining the issue, he checked the reboot logs from his side and swiftly decided he would send me a new modem. He decided to send a modem of a different brand this time to see if this made things work better in my end.

zyxel-p-2601hn

On dec 8th I got modem #4. A different model this time compared to #2 and #3. It was now a Zyxel P-2601. I got home from work at 18:15, had a quick dinner and then I connected the new equipment. Would this really be the end of my troubles? Anticipation!

- Oh harsh reality, how thee can be rough and cold.

This modem can't be powered on. If I flip the power switch and turns it on, all the leds switch on but as soon as my finger leaves the power-on toggle again the modem turns itself off... At 18:52 I tried to call support, but a voice claimed they had "internal systems problems" so I gave up.

12:45 on Friday Dec 9th I called again and reported my broken modem and the friendly support woman was a bit surprised I had gotten a broken device as she said "straight from the factory". She even expressed some sympathy about the replacement unit, modem #5, not being able to reach me until Monday.

On Monday the 12th I got an invoice wanting to charge me 500 SEK for one of the broken modems they claimed I never sent back so I had to call customer service again and have them not do that. (I find 500 SEK for a broken ADSL modem quite a hefty charge when that's basically the price for a completely new and working unit...)

December 13, modem #5 arrived and I connected it. It didn't work at once but the phone worked which gave me a clue, so I connected a laptop directly to the ADSL modem and when I then tried to use a browser on that network I reached an admin interface web server and by using that I could switch the modem over to "bridge mode". It turned out the default setting for this device is to function as a DHCP server and all sorts of other funny things that I didn't want it to do.

At the time of this writing, number five has been running without problems for 72 hours.

Open fibre

One of the big telecom operators in Sweden, Telia, has started to offer "fibre to the house"- called "Öppen Fiber" in Swedish - and I've signed up for it. They're investing 5 billion SEK into building fibre infrastructure and I happen to live in an area which is among the first ones in Sweden that gets the chance to participate. What's in this blog post is information as I've received and understood it. I will of course follow-up in the future and tell how it all turns out in reality.

Copper is a Dead End

fiber cableI have my own house. My thinking is that copper-based technologies such as the up-to-24mbit-but-really-12mbit ADSL (I have some 700 meters or so to the nearest station) I have now has reached something of an end of the road. I had 3 mbit/sec ADSL almost ten years ago: obviously not a lot of improvement is happening in this area. We need to look elsewhere in order to up our connection speeds. I think getting a proper fibre connection to the house will be a good thing for years to come. I don't expect wireless/radio techniques to be able to compete properly, at least not within the next coming years.

Open

This is an "open fibre" in the sense that Telia will install and own the physical fibre and installation but they will not run any services on top of it. I will then buy my internet services, TV and telephone services (should I decide that TV and phone over the fibre is desirable) from the selection of service companies that decide to join in and compete for my money.

Installation

They're promising delivery "before the end of the year". I won't even get an estimated installation date until around mid August. If an existing tube doesn't exist for the copper or electricity that they can use to push the fibre through, they will dig. From the road outside my house to my building, across whatever land that exists there. They need to dig roughly 40 cm deep. The fibre is terminated inside the house (a maximum of 5 meter inside the building) in a small "media converter" box which basically converts from fibre to a RJ45 network plug. It is the size of a regular small switch or so. It is claimed to be possible to get a different "box" that provide a direct fibre plug of some sorts for the people who may already have fibre installed in their houses. I currently have a burglar alarm in my house that uses the current phone connection which I'll need to get either just dumped completely or converted over to use a telephone-over-fibre concept. I don't plan on paying for or using any copper-based service once the fibre gets here. (There's however no way to use the Swedish tax deduction "rot-avdrag".)

Price

dlink DIR 635There's no monthly fee for the fibre, I only pay a one-time installation fee of 16700 SEK (roughly 1800 Euros) to get it. I then of course will have to pay for the services if I want to actually use the installation but until I do there are no fees involved. This price is actually fixed and the same for all the houses in my area that got this deal. At August 15th the deal ends and they'll increase the installation price to 26700 SEK. Given the amount of work they have to put in for each new customer, I don't really consider this price to be steep. A lot of money, sure, but also quite a lot of value.

Speeds to expect

The physical speed between my house and the other end (some kind of fibre termination station somewhere) will be exactly 1000mbit/sec and no more "up to" phrasing or similar in the contract. Of course, that's just the physical speed that is used and with this equipment the network cannot be any faster than 1000 mbit. There will then be ISPs that offer an internet connection, and they may very well offer lower speeds and even varying different speeds at different tariffs. Right now, other fibre installations done by Telia seem to get offered up to 100/100 mbit connections. As this is then not a physical maximum, it should allow for future increasing without much problems. The 1000 mbit/sec speed over the fibre is a limitation in the actual installed hardware (not the fibre) so in the future Telia can indeed replace the media converters in both ends and bump the speed up significantly should they want to and feel that there's business in doing so. My current D-Link wifi router only has 100 mbit WAN support so clearly I'll have to replace that if I go beyond.

IPv6

Seriously, I believe I may be closer to actually get a real IPv6 offer using this than with ADSL here in Sweden. I haven't really investigated this for real though.

Update

December 16th: I got a mail from Telia today that informed me that the installation in my area has been delayed so it won't happen until Q2 2012! 🙁