Strange problem with DSL modem.

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Thu Jan 20 23:19:12 PST 2005

Hi Jason,

  I work for an ISP which is a Qwest Megahost and have dealt
plenty with these and several other brands of modems on the
Qwest network.  I have dealt with the ActionTec people as
well, and documented a number of bugs in earlier version of
firmware for these modems, some of which have been fixed, 
others which haven't.

  You haven't said exactly how your DSL connection is setup.
Is this PPPoA or what?  Nor how your DSL modem is configured.
We need to know that before helping.

  You should also know that the ISP I work at DOES NOT recommend
or specify the ActionTec DSL modem for any corporate or business
customers of ours - in short, not for any customer of ours
who gives more than a fig about a reliable DSL connection.  Frankly
it is a shame - Qwest has dumped millions of dollars on pretty
good back-end DSLAMs and such only to crap up their DSL network
with those CPEs.

  The ActionTec is fine for the typical garden-variety home user
who is so retarded that they refuse to run antivirus software
because it's too expensive, and they refuse to regularly update
their Windows system so it doesen't get stuffed full of viruses,
and has a chip on their shoulder the size of Manhattan because
someone dared to tell them they might actually, no God no
I can barely say it - they might actually have to PAY A SLIGHT
BIT OF REAL MONEY for a DSL modem!!  Heavens!  After all, by
God that fucking phone company should be PAYING ME to subscribe
to DSL and your telling me I have to actually pay less money
than I waste on Mac & Don's steakhouse during the week for a
DSL modem?!?!  Bessie, get me gun!!!

  Back in the days when Qwest was still under the delusion that
DSL customers actually wanted something in the way of DSL that
didn't go down with the frequency of a $5 Tijuana hooker, Qwest specd
REAL modems manufactured by Cisco Systems, the model 675 and later
678's.  Sadly, Qwest was rudely awakened to the reality that
most DSL users wanted cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, fast, cheap
cheap and well as for reliability, what's that?.  Cost to the customer
on the 678's was $100 and Qwest was eating part of it as the list
cost was more than that from Cisco.  Cost on today's ActionTec's is
$50, and people still bitch, and the ActionTec company probably
doesen't see more than $10 per device, if even that.  You can't
manufacture much of a DSL modem, plus pay for a radio chip for
it, for that kind of money.

The Cisco 678 is what you what to use.  Unfortunately, they are
no longer manufactured by Cisco.  Cisco is currently making an
even better DSL device, the Cisco 827, which works spectacularly
well on Qwest's network - but of course Qwest doesen't spec that
as list on it is like $600.

To give you an example of how bad the ActionTec is, just today I
got a call from a customer who had DSL at 2 offices with 827's
which went down.  Called Qwest, the tech on the phone checked and
came back and said that Qwest techs were doing some maintainence
on the DSLAM.  The tech proceeded to check the history of both
lines and tells me that the DSL modems had been up solid for 50 days,
and I really should have someone power-cycle them because they
had been up "for too long"  Can you imagine?  This poor Qwest
support tech has been dealing with crap Actiontecs for so long that
he actually believes that the DSL modem is SUPPOSED to be rebooted
all the time!!!!  Needless to say, when the Qwest service guys
finished screwing with the DSLAM, both 827's came right back online
WITHOUT human intervention.

Anyway, if you get a 678, and flash-update it to current firmware,
(the old firmware in the 678 is like 5 years old and has many
problems) and properly configure it, your problems will go away.
Unfortunately the downside is that actually doing this is not
easy for most people as the steps to do it are rather arcane, the
firmware itself has controlled-access on it, and basically unless
your ISP will do it for you, or you are willing to spend some
time really understanding the process instead of just trying to
rush into doing it, as they say, good luck.

Once you tell us what your DSL config is, I might be able to
give you some suggestions to get the GT701 going.  No promises

Also, one other thing, the Westell C90-36R516 modem will work
on the Qwest network also - with one caveat, and of course, some
arcane configuration.  Both the 678 and the R516 modems are 
still readily available on Ebay.  Unfortunately for the 678
though, others have discovered the same thing about the ActionTecs
that I have related here, and pricing on those modems is still
rather high.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-freebsd-questions at
> [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at]On Behalf Of Jason Osgerby
> Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 9:32 PM
> To: freebsd-questions at
> Subject: Strange problem with DSL modem.
> Hello all,
> I am hoping someone on this list can help me out with a very 
> frustrating issue I am having. I dual boot one of my machines 
> (a Dell Dimension 2400) with Windows XP Pro, and connect to 
> the Internet via an Actiontec GT701-WG DSL modem with an 
> inbuilt wireless gateway. Now, under Windows XP, I can access 
> the Internet just fine, and do anything that I need to do. Of 
> course, Windows XP is a slow, buggy memory hog, and I simply 
> hate using it. 
> So, I decided to install FreeBSD 5.3 on a separate partition. 
> After performing a basic system install from CD, I wanted to 
> add several items from the ports collection, such as 
> Fluxbox-devel, XMMS, MPlayer, Firefox, ROX-filer, and all the 
> other good stuff that I like to use. So, I started running the 
> "make install" for Fluxbox, and it gave the usual message 
> about not being able to find the source in my local ports 
> directory, and then gave the normal blurb about fetching it 
> from 
> The problem is that it is totally unable to download anything 
> at all. All of the fetch requests to any of these remote 
> servers just time out after hanging there for about a minute 
> or so. I re-checked that I had configured the DHCP connection 
> correctly, and no problems there at all. So, I did a simple 
> ping of to make sure that I had a working Internet 
> connection, and the ping responses returned in a timely 
> fashion as usual. Yet still, the "make install" command just 
> freezes up when attempting to download anything.
> Obviously, I wrote an email to Actiontec support immediately, 
> asking for assistance. They responded to say that they don't 
> support FreeBSD. After a couple of minutes of cursing, I 
> decided the best thing to do would be to ask you all about 
> this problem. Anyone have any idea what is going on here, and 
> if there is anyway I can fix this? I am totally at a loss.
> Thanks!
> Jason.
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