DSL modem recommendation

markzero mark at darklogik.org
Wed Feb 23 11:37:08 GMT 2005

> This is a really good universal combination.  Many DSL modems will
> work fine.  But there's 1 modem that I would strongly recommend
> in this instance over any other modem:
> Westell C90-36R516-01
> Why?  Here's why:
> 1) These are dumb bridged modems so they aren't interfereing with
> your BSD box.
> 2) Westell has updated firmware and a diagnostic utility that
> talks to the modem, and has a secret command key sequence that
> will tell all of the good line stats (signal to noise ratio,
> received and transmitted power, etc.) which are vital to
> troubleshooting.
> 3) Since these modems were obsoleted and were used by Bell Atlantic,
> there are tons of them on the used market for very cheap.
> 4) Other ISP's I've talked to have said these things are rock
> solid reliable.  I have never had one of them fail in service
> for any of our customers either.
> 5) It has an honest-to-god Alcatel DSL chipset in it, not the
> globespan which is becoming more popular (primariarly because
> it's cheaper)
> Now, note the following: if you have a very spotty DSL line, then
> get the following:
> Westell B90-36R515
> NOT the B90-36R515-01!!!
> Why?  Because the 36R515 has a design flaw in it- it massively
> overexceeds the transmitted power allowable for DSL - this is
> why Bell Atlantic quickly switched over to the -01 model - that
> will sometimes allow you to punch though a crummy line and
> get a stable connection.  But the downside is it's DSP microcode
> is non-upgradable.  You don't want to use it unless you have to.
> Now because this is NOT a PPPoA modem, you must run PPP on your
> FreeBSD box.  The big advantage is that since your FreeBSD box
> is the PPP terminator - not the DSL modem/router - you get a
> legal public number on the ppp interface in the BSD box, which
> means if you want to set it up as a server your in business.
> The only possible problem is that these Westells were sold
> only in the US, they take 24 volt AC (NOT DC!) and come with a 24 volt
> AC adapter.  But, you can just go to any junk store and buy
> a 24 volt UK style AC adapter and cut off the useless US-style
> adapter from it's cord and solder the cord onto your adapter.
> (or use a voltage converter from 220-to-110)  The adapter is
> NOT AUTOSENSING so don't attempt to just plug into UK power
> or you will blow the modem up.
> The modem isn't particular about 50-60 hertz so no worries
> there.  I also don't think you would have a problem with 
> the UK/US phone line voltage difference either.
> You also will need to change the VPI/VCI setting to 0/38 it
> is normally 0/35, westell has a utility for that.
> If you are a bit sqeamish about this, then looking at the PIPEX
> recommendation page, go for a ZyXEL Prestige 630
> STAY AWAY from ANY dsl modem that does NOT have an ethernet
> jack on it!!!  Such as the USB speedtouches that Pipex
> was handing out for free!!  There's a reason they are free!!
> You can't pay people (who know anything) to take them!!!
> Ted

Thanks for the recommendations and the detailed info! I will
probably give both a try and I definitely not be touching those
sorry USB things (I've recently been trying to get one up and
running on my friends BSD box and have pretty much given up
in disgust).

I'll be trawling eBay within the hour. :)

Thanks again,

PGP: http://www.darklogik.org/pub/pgp/pgp.txt
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