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ADSL Modem Advice

TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

ADSL Modem Advice

I'm just switching from Virgin Media Cable to Plusnet.  I currently have a wireless 'cable' router (Asus RT-N66U) behind the Virgin provided router which is in modem only mode.
I'd like to keep gigabit ethernet and dual-frequency wireless, but can't decide what to do for the best in terms of Plusnet connectivity.
Is the currently supplied Plusnet router capable of being easily put into modem only mode so that it can simply replace the Virgin box in front of my existing Asus router?  And if so, will its lack of Gigabit ethernet cause any slowdowns on the rest of my existing Gigabit network? 
And would using Plusnet kit in this way be the best way to go in case of any line issues and getting support, or should I consider some other modem which has a good track record with Plusnet users.  I do occasionally use VPN software on my PC to connect to work if that is an additional consideration.
Or should I consider getting a new all in one ADSL modem and wireless router in one box (I see a lot of people recommended Billion products)?
I've already placed the order for Plusnet, and the line is going in next week.  I am starting to regret not ordering their bundled router, which sounds as though it's a brand new model.  But getting really confused about the best way to proceed.  All advice from others would be gratefully appreciated.
Many thanks in advance.
16 REPLIES
shure
Grafter
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Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

As you already have an excellent router there, it wouldn't make sense for you to go out and spend a lot of money on another combined unit.  If it were me, I'd buy a cheap modem and use that to connect to the ASUS.  A quick look on Amazon will show some very cost-effective units.  The ASUS is an excellent router so it would be a shame to discard that when you could get a very cheap modem to connect to it.  
I'm not a techie, so my advice will be second hand, but when I was looking I was advised that the bulk of the work is done by the router and the modem has a fairly simple task.  You don't need one with any bells and whistles.  I use an ageing Netgear DG834PN in modem-only mode with my RT-N66u and it works quite happily in the background, despite being some ten years old.
The one caveat I'd add is that I've heard that some modems are better (and conversely, others worse) with very long lines, so you might want to take that into consideration with your research  if you decide buying a modem is the way to go, depending on how far from the exchange you are.  For longer lines the recommendation is apparently to use a modem with a Broadcom chipset.    But if it were me, I'd definitely hang on to the ASUS and buy a cheap modem to go alongside it.
HTH
TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Thanks very much HTH.  
That's the initial train of thought that I had, but then I read so many people online trying to get different pieces of kit to talk to each other, spending many hours and failing, that started me thinking about the one box solution as being a safer and less error prone solution.  For example, that D-link modem that you link to on Amazon, has nearly as many 1 star reviews as good ones, with one person calling it the "worst modem in the world".  With so much conflicting information online, it's difficult to make a considered decision.  It's a shame that your Netgear is no longer available for me to buy as this is obviously working happily with your RT-N66U and the Plusnet network.
If I do keep my current router, and thinking about this from a Plusnet compatibility and support point of view, as it's just a few pounds for P&P only, if the Plusnet provided router can be set to modem only mode, I'm now thinking that this is the best way to go for the modem.   I've searched the Plusnet pages about whether it can or not, but not found anything.  Does anyone know for definite?  Appreciate it's a brand new model, so I assume not many people have them yet.
shure
Grafter
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Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

HTH means Hope This Helps Wink
Many people who give negative reviews do so because they hope the modem will be plug and play and get confused when they find they need to enter settings themselves.  A little research often helps.  And you need to take some with a pinch of salt.  One poor review said it just failed and Amazon would not take it back.  Now, I don't mean to try and plug Amazon but my experience with them is that they will rarely, if ever quibble with an item under warranty.  I've had occasion to return things before and it was painless.  There's also a TP-Link on there which has an average four stars out of 241 votes, so it seems a safe bet.  How far away are you from your exchange?
For example, with my setup it took me a day or two to find out that I needed to change the encapsulation settings in the Netgear to LLC.  It was one small setting but because of the lack of documentation it was very frustrating.  But once that hurdle was over, it's run like a dream.  And you only set it up once!
As regards combination modem-routers, I just thought it would be a shame for you to bin the router you already have when it's one of the best you can buy today. 
I could be wrong here but I believe the PN supplied router requires you to use telnet to change settings, which is not for everyone.  Be sure to get confirmation before you take the plunge!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

A word of warning
The new router 2704n doesn't appear to have the option using the normal login for configuring as a modem only and telnet isn't available
However there is a superuser option which may give you what you need
http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,135846.msg1197376.html#msg1197376
http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,135846.msg1197512.html#msg1197512
TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Quote from: shure
HTH means Hope This Helps

Ooops.  Embarrassed.  Sorry shure.  My inexperience in net-speak shining through!!
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply so comprehensively.  What you say makes perfect sense.  It's really appreciated.  And also thanks to Oldjim for pointing out the other thread.  Unfortunately it doesn't (so far) give a definitive answer about modem only mode.  I'll keep an eye on it, but thinking I need to consider another option.
shure - I've found out that I'm about 0.8 miles away from my exchange.  I saw the TP-Link on Amazon and was considering it, but then read that it didn't have the Broadcom chipset that you'd highlighted.  But given that I'm quite close to the exchange, this may not be so critical.
You mentioned needing to set encapsulation to LLC, but I've noted down that this needs to be VC from the Plusnet router set up page.  When I'm up and running, should I try both and see which gives better results?
A friend has just offered me his old Linksys WAG354G router which has the following specifications, and can be set into 'bridge' mode, which from what I've read means the same as modem only.  Does this sound ok?
IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.3, g.992.1 (g.dmt), g.992.2 (g.lite), T1.413i2, g.992.3, g.992.5, Annex A (DSL over POTS)
My only concern is that I've read about Annex M somewhere on the Plusnet site, which isn't mentioned in these specs, and not sure whether this would make any practical difference to me.  I suppose I could just give it a go once I'm connected, and see what happens.
Thanks once again for your advice and support.
Edit : just realised that Annex M isn't a standard feature so deleted sentence above.
shure
Grafter
Posts: 509
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Registered: 21-01-2013

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

If you're up and running, then you won't have to worry about encapsulation!  Mine simply wouldn't work with the default VC-MUX setting but when I changed to LLC after finding an obscure post on the internet everything ran smoothly.  Techies on here will be able to clue you up more.  Just try both and stick with what works.  It takes seconds.
If you are using the Linksys purely as a modem then you can ignore the IEEE standards: they are for wireless, which your ASUS will handle.  The other figures are for ADSL, and ADSL2/2+.  Which you will use will depend on whether you are 20CN or 21CN.  If you are interested it's explained here.
I'd take your friend's offer (especially if it's free!) and see how it goes.  My Netgear is a similar age and seems to work just fine as a modem.  As mentioned, once you have it set up in bridge mode you can pretty much forget about it.  You will need your Plusnet login details for the ASUS - you won't have to enter any details in the Linksys.
Good luck!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 31-08-2007

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Hi TonyMW,
shure is right there with his advice of take your friend's offer of the WAG354G and see if it's OK. Also his advice of using a Modem with a Broadcom chipset is good and personally I wouldn't use a TP-Link either, for a whole host of other reasons in addition.
When you are connected up, post the DSL stats from the WAG354G so we can advise how your connection is looking.
A word of warning though, don't go rebooting the modem willy-nilly especially in the first 10 days. On an ADSL/2+ connection this makes the Dynamic Line Management at the exchange think you have a dropping connection and in simple terms it will slow your speed to attempt to "stabilise" the connection.
If for some reason you need to disconnect the modem or resync, or even to plug additional items with filters into the line, then it's always best to firstly login into the Router and Disconnect your PPP Internet session to Plusnet, wait about 30 seconds and then power it  off and then power off the modem before making any changes. Stay off for a minimum of 10 minutes before powering up again afterwards. Power up the Router once the Modem is booted and sync established. You'll probably need to log into the Router and click Connect to establish a new PPP Internet session to Plusnet.
See here for guidance on getting the stats.
Put your details into SamKnows for information about your exchange (never post your phone number on the forum by the way).
TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Quote from: Anotherone

A word of warning though, don't go rebooting the modem willy-nilly especially in the first 10 days.

I read that Plusnet recommend that you switch the router off and on a few times in the first 10 days to aid this training process.  Are you saying that I shouldn't do this? Or that I should, but via a controlled log off process that you describe?  Many thanks for your advice.
Just a quick update, I tried my friends linksys on his ADSL line, and it kept on disconnecting.  So think it's faulty.  So, I've bought the D-link modem that shure pointed me to (thanks very much shure).
And....I was hoping that I might have a working Plusnet line today, but the BT OR contractor couldn't find the other end of the phone line coming into my house!  He said it should terminate in a manhole somewhere, but the manhole appears to have been moved as it's not where the BT records say that it should be!  I've been promised a visit from their 'track and trace' division (or some such) tomorrow morning.  Sad
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,418
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

As far as I know they don't recommend that - where did you read it
TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Here:
http://www.plus.net/support/broadband/speed_guide/speed_basics.shtml
"During the first 10 days of your broadband service
At first we won't know exactly how fast your broadband will be. To find out, a number of tests are run from your telephone exchange which will cause your speeds go up and down. You may even get disconnected a few times. Don't worry, this doesn't mean there's a problem, so please bear with it. During this time we'll find the best balance between speed and reliability for your line.
You can help the testing process by rebooting your router (switch it off and on again) three or four times over the first 10 days. You'll get better results if you can do this in the morning."
alanj
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Registered: 02-08-2013

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

I'd also read that. It's under section 2 here: http://www.plus.net/support/broadband/speed_guide/speed_basics.shtml
Quote
During the first 10 days of your broadband service
At first we won't know exactly how fast your broadband will be. To find out, a number of tests are run from your telephone exchange which will cause your speeds go up and down. You may even get disconnected a few times. Don't worry, this doesn't mean there's a problem, so please bear with it. During this time we'll find the best balance between speed and reliability for your line.
You can help the testing process by rebooting your router (switch it off and on again) three or four times over the first 10 days. You'll get better results if you can do this in the morning.

Edit: you beat me to it!
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,418
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Shows what I know then  Embarrassed
Community Veteran
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Registered: 31-08-2007

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Well not only is it bad advice the way it is phrased, but it is also misleading in some of what it says -
Quote
During this time we'll find the best balance between speed and reliability for your line.

That is grossly misleading, there is no "we" about it. It gives the impression Plusnet can and do do things about the sync speed. It is totally automatic - the Exchange Dynamic Line Management makes adjustments based on the line conditions it finds. There is NO intervention from Plusnet.
Quote
You can help the testing process by rebooting your router (switch it off and on again) three or four times over the first 10 days.

That is highly debatable, in fact if done at the wrong times and in the wrong way, it can seriously jeopardise your connection, especially if you are unlucky enough to be stuck on a 20CN exchange.
Quote
You'll get better results if you can do this in the morning.

That is in part true. Ideally, generally if you switch on and sync in daylight hours (but an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset) you should get the best sync speeds.
The statement could have been more concisely written as " You'll generally get better results if you can do this in the middle of the day"
The unfortunate side-effect of this if you have a poor quality line with a higher speed, is that you may get a dropped connection after dark.
BUT, if you unknowingly have a problem with the line rebooting can make the DLM think it's a dropped connection and that particular reboot could be the trigger for a raised Target SNRM resulting in slower speed.
So my advice would be if you are going to do it, then do a graceful disconnect as previously explained, do it in the middle of the day, and stay off-line for at least 10 minutes. Most times it shouldn't be necessary and I wouldn't suggest doing more than 2 to3 times at most, but if you want accurate advise, then post the FULL line stats from your modem/router as soon as you are connected that would be Sync/connection speed, Attenuation, Noise Margin and any Error data available.
TonyMW
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 14-02-2015

Re: ADSL Modem Advice

Right, I'm finally up and running after three visits from Openreach, and getting around 15Mbps down and 0.85Mbps up since the service activated four days ago.  This download speed is spot on the estimate that Plusnet gave me when I signed up.
I don't think that I can access my modem for the stats as it sits behind the router, but I'm more than happy with these speeds. 
Thanks to everyone who gave me the advice above, and for their time in doing so.  It's very much appreciated.