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Saturday, August 4, 2012

5 Things Orcon don’t tell you about their fibre connections

1. You can’t have a static/fixed IP address yet. 

2. You can keep using all your jackpoints. Orcon tells you that you need to plug your phone in to your Genius and if you have DECT or other wireless extensions you can use them to allow multiple phones to function. In fact, you can have Chorus feed the phone connection from your Genius back to your existing splitter and distribute the line between all your extensions. Everything works as before!

3. Orcon might provision your UFB connection without checking that Chorus have completed the install.  If you’re moving from Orcon DSL to UFB Fibre you might find your existing connection cut off at some arbitrary point when they consider you should be up and running.  I've had Orcon Provisioning tell me that they did this to me!

4. The install might take more then one day if Chorus have issues piping the fibre down to your location.

5. If you are an existing Orcon DSL customer they might treat you as a brand new customer and give you a new phone number instead of porting your existing one over. You'll have to ask them to correct this.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

D-Link DSL-2740B [Review]

The D-link DSL-2740B is an ADSL2+ gateway consisting of ADSL2+, wireless, switching and routing capabilities. The DSL-2740B gateway components are enclosed in a contemporary black and silver case. There is nothing physically striking about the unit, other then its build quality. Its design is bland and not nearly as slick as the Linksys' futuristic profile. See our Linksys WAG160N and WRT310N reviews.

The DSL-2740B includes three external antennas designed to provide the best wireless performance possible. The multiple antenna design aims to increase signal strength and coverage, in particular when paired with wireless clients utilizing the same technology. The DSL-2740B includes an on/off switch, a feature missing on many units these days.

The DSL-2740B comes with four switched fast Ethernet ports on the rear. It does not include any USB ports which might otherwise facilitate the ability to share printers and hard drives across a LAN. The usual marketing guff regarding speeds of up to 300 Mbps is touted by the manufacturer, with real world tests not coming anywhere close to those advertised.

[The Rear of the DSL-2740B]

A key wireless feature is that the DSL-2740B is a Wifi Certified 802.11n (Draft 1.0) device. This means that it has been tested with other units and has have been certified and approved by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The gateway includes a number of security features. These include an SPI (Statefull Packet Inspection) firewall, with the option to configure your own custom filtering rules. We found that the firewall is not engaged by default and must be manually turned on.

IP Filtering, URL filtering, and Parental controls are also included in the unit, but keyword blocking is noticeably absent. You can configure time and day restrictions for Internet Access.

Wireless security is catered for support of WEP, WPA, and WPA2. However, the setup wizard on the included CD will only support WEP and WPA configurations. To use WPA2 or enterprise modes you need to configure these security settings manually. However, we did like the fact that the DSL-2740B can automatically generate wireless security keys for you.

Radius authentication is also supported. MAC address filtering is included, but the value of this as a security measure is minimal. Virtual server configuration is also included.

Tech-savvy people will be able to set up the DSL-2740B via the web interface by simply pointing their browser to 192.168.1.1. The setup CD significantly simplifies the setup and configuration process. The DSL-2740B includes a well laid out and easy to follow web interface.

Current pricing for the DSL-2740B is in the range of $NZ240 - $NZ260, putting it in about the same price bracket as the similarly configured Linksys WAG160N. D-Link provides a generous three-year warranty on this gateway.

Summary

The Good: Web interface, good performance, external antennas allow modification and adjustment

The Bad: Unit housing, setup wizard limitations, firewall not enabled by default

Advertised Product Features
  • Built-in ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ modem
  • 4 built-in 10/100Base-TX switch ports with auto MDI/MDIX support
  • Built-in NAT firewall
  • Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
  • Denial of Service (DoS) prevention
  • Draft 802.11n wireless LAN specification, backward compatible with 802.11b/g devices
  • Up to 270Mbps raw data transfer rate
  • Strong WPA/WPA2 data encryption security
  • Multiple SSIDs
  • 802.11e Wireless QoS (WMM/WME)
  • Dynamic DNS support
  • Traffic prioritization
  • Web-based GUI

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Linksys WRT310N Broadband Router [Review]

The Linksys WRT310N Wireless-N Gigabit Router is a SOHO product that facilitates the sharing of a cable or DSL broadband Internet connection with both wired and wireless clients. The WRT310N includes a multitude of features and technology in a neat and stylish package.

The WRT310N differentiates itself from its cheaper WRT160N cousin by providing an Ethernet switch with Gigabit capabilities, and the grey trim which adorns the unit.

The gigabit switching is important to those who transfer large files or stream video over a wired network. You still get virtually identical wireless networking and security features as the WRT160N, which includes the emerging wireless 802.11n (draft 2.0) standard. The WRT310N can run in a mixed mode environment with existing 802.11g device and supports WPA or WPA2 encryption. The WRT310N also supports RADIUS authentication, and includes other higher-end features such as a Firewall, and VPN pass-through.

The WRT310N is both aesthetically pleasing, and the internal antenna design prevents the cluttering of ports on the back of the unit. You will find four LAN ports along with one WAN port on the rear to connect to your broadband modem. The back of the WRT310N looks virtually identical to the WAG160N ADSL2+ Gateway that we have also recently reviewed.

[The rear of the WRT310N]

On the front of the unit an array of blue LED's serve to indicate the status of the various services that the unit provides. A Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button is also present to allow you to quickly configure compatible wireless client adapters.

Due to all the hardware features that the WRT310N provides and the compact case it is packaged in, the WRT310N does tend to run quite hot when compared to other units. It is strongly recommended that you place this unit in a well ventilated area.

The WRT310N features Linksys' proprietary wireless technology called RangePlus, and when you pair this router up with compatible Wireless-G Linksys adapters also supporting this feature, you can enhance your wireless networks speed.

The WRT310N includes a web-interface which is consistent with other Linksys routers, and in fact most Linksys products that provide this such an interface. The WRT310N ships with an installation CD which you can use to configure the unit if you are not comfortable with the web-interface.

The CD includes an initial setup wizard and a network monitoring tool called LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor). MAC users won’t be able to use LELA as the version included is Windows only. LELA can monitor your network and alert you to any new devices, potential problems and security breaches as and when they occur. LELA can also automatically generate a network map of compatible network devices detected on your LAN.

The WRT310N includes some rudimentary controls to restrict or filter internet access on a per-machine, or per MAC address basis. The obligatory port forwarding/triggering capabilities are also well catered for. WMM and QoS features, along with the ability to set application priorities are also included. For example, you can configure VoIP traffic to have the highest priority and protect it from other traffic caused by behaviour such as downloading files, or P2P application usage.

[DHCP Reservation on the WRT310N]

The WRT310N does not include a USB ports to support features such as print serving, or the StorageLink feature seen on other Linksys units which would allow it to turn an external USB hard disk into a network accessible storage (NAS) drive. It would have been nice if this was included this as the WRT310N is at the higher-end of the spectrum. Additionally, the router will only operate in the 2.4ghz frequency band which means that it wont operate in the 5ghz band that is progressively becoming more popular as manufacturing costs decrease.

According to tests done by cnet, the WRT310N is a strong wireless performer. Tests for 802.11n performance resulted in an attainable rate of 110.6Mbps in pure 802.11n mode, and 95.3Mbps when operating in a mixed mode environment. It's great to see that 802.11n performance is not significantly degraded when 802.11g units are in the mix.

Linksys supply the WRT310N with a one-year warranty, and offers toll-free support in New Zealand and Australia between the hours of 8:30am and 5:30pm UTC Monday through Friday. Not as comprehensive as our American friends who receive 24/7 toll-free phone support. Your other support options are 24/7 online chat, the Linksys support website, or email.

The WRT310 is well priced and embodies a very stylish case design. Pair this unit with a capable broadband modem, and you have a competent and reliable combination.

Summary

The Good: Aesthetically pleasing design, small power adapter, internal aerials, 802.11n (2.0 draft) support, excellent interface, very well priced.

The Bad: LELA unable to detect all clients, gets very hot and needs good ventilation

Specifications

Standards - Draft 802.11n v2.0, 802.11g, 802.11b, 802.3, 802.3u, 802.3ab

Ports - Power, Internet, Ethernet
Buttons - Reset, Wi-Fi Protected Setup
LEDs - Ethernet (1-4), Wi-Fi Protected Setup, Wireless, Internet, Power
Cabling Type - CAT 5e

Number of Antennas 3
Detachable (Y/N) No
RF Pwr (EIRP) in dBm 17
UPnP able/cert Able

Security Features
Up to 256-Bit Wireless Encryption, SPI Firewall
Security Key Bits 64, 128, 256

Environmental
Dimensions 7.95" x 1.34" x 6.30" (202 x 34 x 160 mm)
Weight 11.99 oz (0.34 kg)
Power 12V, 1A

Friday, October 10, 2008

Linksys WAG160N ADSL2+ Gateway [Review]

The Linksys WAG160N is an ADSL2+ gateway that combines the full functionality of an ADSL2+ Modem, Router, Switch, and Wireless Access Point. With this offering, Linksys joins vendors such as Belkin in bucking the trend of unattractive grey boxes. In doing so they've come up with something quite aesthetically pleasing.

With its all-in-one design, the WAG160N can happily take the place of up to 4 individual network components, leaving you with one neat and tidy package. The gateway is quite slim and comes with a petite power adapter which won’t block your neighbouring wall sockets. However, be aware that this setup also means that you are creating a single point of failure in your network.


One of the first things to notice when looking at the WAG160N is the lack of external antennas. The unit comes with two internal diversity antennas, further adding to its style. The downside here is that you can not enhance your wireless speed and coverage by adding or modifying external antennas, or by changing their orientation. The WAG160N comes with frontal LED indicators to show the status of LAN, WLAN, DSL Link, and Internet Activity.

Another key wireless feature: the WAG160N is a Wi-Fi Certified 802.11n (Draft 2.0) device. This means it has been tested with other units and is certified and approved by the Wi-Fi Alliance. If you have compatible wireless clients, the gateway supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

It also supports VPN passthrough for IPSec, PPTP and L2Tp protocols, along with remote management. On top of that, there are some basic access control and content filtering capabilities which you can control by time, machine, IP address, or a combination of the three.

The WAG160N operates in mixed wireless mode only, which does prevent it from being used exclusively in any particular mode. According to PC WORLD tests, the WAG160N's communication speed with 802.11n clients does not degrade significantly when 802.11g wireless adapters are added to the mix.

With regards to troubleshooting the broadband connection, we found only a limited amount of information about the current ADSL connection was available on the WAG160N's DSL connection status page. Available details include status, downstream rate, upstream rate, encapsulation, multiplexing, and some VPI, VCI, and PVC status details. We couldn't find any statistics regarding the current signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, attenuation, or data errors.

[WAG160N DSL Connection Status]

Linksys decided against including a gigabit wired LAN facility on the WAG160N, so users will be stuck with a 4 port 10/100 switch. A separate gigabit switch would be needed attain gigabit LAN speeds.

[The Rear ports on the WAG160N]

Tech-savvy people will be able to set up the WAG160N via the web interface, simply by pointing their browser to 192.168.1.1. The gateway also comes with an easy-to-use setup CD, which significantly simplifies the setup and configuration process with an initial setup wizard.

The CD also includes a network monitoring tool called LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor). The version on the CD is Windows only, so MAC users will need another option. LELA can monitor your network and alert you to any new devices, potential problems, and security breaches. One of LELA's main features is the ability to automatically generate a network map of connected machines. However, when we tested LELA on a machine connected to the WAG160N via Ethernet, it failed to detect either of the two wireless clients we had connected at the time.

We also found that the WAG160N does not need to be restarted on every little change made in its configuration. This is a great advantage, compared to a number of other routers we have configured.

When we tested the unit's ADSL2+ capabilities, it achieved over 18 Mbps download speed, and an upload rate of 850 kb/s when tested with speedtest.net at a distance of less then 1km from the exchange.

[Linksys WAG160N Speed Test]

The WAG160N has an AUTO option, where you do not explicitly define your maximum upload and download speeds. When we enabled the unit's QoS capability with the AUTO option also enabled, we found that our ADSL2+ web download speed was throttled down to less then 2 mbps. Hopefully this issue is resolved in a later firmware update.

We picked the review unit up for NZ$180, which is a bargain when you consider the features you get for the price. A similar gateway from Belkin might cost twice as much. But, to take advantage of the 802.11n capabilities available, you may need to invest in ‘N’ compatible client adapters, unless you have them already.

If you currently have an ADSL2+ modem and are simply wanting to add router/switch and wireless functionality, then I would strongly recommend looking at the Linksys WRT310N Wireless-N Gigabit Router as an alternative.

Summary

The Good: Aesthetically pleasing design, small power adapter, internal aerials, 802.11n (2.0 draft) support, fast ADSL2+ connection, excellent interface, very well priced.

The Bad: Operates in mixed mode only, lack of DSL connection information, 10/100 port switch only, LELA unable to detect all clients, QoS throttling issues.

Specifications

Standards - IEEE Draft 802.11N v2.0, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.3u,
g.992.1 (g.dmt), g.992.2 (g.lite), g.992.3, g.992.5, T1.413i2,
U-R2 for Annex B

Ports - Power, DSL, Ethernet (1-4)
Buttons - Reset, Wi-Fi Protected Setup
LEDs - Power, Wireless, Ethernet (1-4), DSL, Internet
Cabling Type CAT 5 UTP, RJ-11, RJ-45

Number of Antennas 2 Internal
RF Power (EIRP) in dBm 17
Antenna Gain in dBi 2

Security Features
Password-protected Configuration for Web Access
PAP and CHAP Authentication
Denial of Service (DoS) Prevention
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) Firewall
AP Isolation
Website Blocking by URL Address or Keyword
Java, ActiveX, Proxy, and Cookie Filtering
ToD Filter (blocks access by time)
VPN Passthrough for IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP Protocols
WPA/WPA2 Personal and Enterprise
128, 64 Bits WEP with Passphrase WEP Key Generation
SSID Broadcast Disable
Access Restriction by MAC and IP Addresses

Environmental
Dimensions 202 x 34 x 160 mm (8.0” x 1.3” x 6.3”)
Weight 362 g (12.8 oz)
Power 12VDC 1A

Test Unit Details
Firmware Version: V1.00.09