So i decided to refresh my internet connection (it had been in place for over 3 years). I also had a notification from Ofcom saying the Wandsworth Exchange had been upgraded to Fibre. So lets see who can offer Fibre from there … turns out to be just BT (Infinity) and Virgin (Virgin Media). So deciding which is the lesser of two evils i went with Virgin.
Yes i had been told about the heinous traffic shaping, and throttling they do but I went ahead with this anyway. I had also recently ordered Virgin Big Red Business for work purposes so i was aware of how it worked and the problems around the ‘Super’ Hub (although not how many problems or bad they were until now!).
So current setup
BT Phone Line – £14.00
BeThere Broadband – £24.95
Total – £38.95
Download – 7 mb / Upload – 1.2 mb (wired)
So initial virgin only took 6 working days to install due to existing cabling which was already in place. So after 6 days i got my kit, connected it all up and away i went. After configuring all the devices to connect onto the LAN. So i begin with a simple speed test thanks to http://www.speedtest.net
Download 33 mb / Upload 7 mb (wired)
Download 12 mb / Upload 5 mb (wireless)
Wasn’t the type of performance i was expecting but i thought lets give it a bit of time and review in a week. A week passed and the same results returned. Off to google and the forums i went … so hours later i find out a number of things
I am running the latest Firmware of the re-branded Netgear R36 … this had removed alot of the functionality i was alooking for. Port forwarding, DynDNS, SSH direct to device.
In summary Known problems
-Performance of box over cabling connection
-Extremely poor wireless connection
-Locked down functions preventing users from basic tasks
Anyway i decided to go down the official road for this instead of the normal research, hack/fix/brake one. They explain they are going to send me a new device, and i agree but state an extension to my cancellation period and if this doesn’t work they say they are going to send me a D-Link and request i put the device in to Modem Mode. (ill come onto this shortly). The lady also explained that there are quite a few errors on the circuit.
SO while i wait for this, i begin to look into the modem mode function of the device, so i re-connect my old Linksys WAG54G which everyone has one of these lying around if you are an IT geek, don’t ask me why either! Anyway after of troubleshooting this fixes the wireless problem but the actual speed is still poor.
So the very next day i receive the new hub (i missed the first attempt at delivery as they gave me a text 15 minutes before it arrived midday on a Wednesday when i was at work. I have a quick flick through the doco and it has a number of warning about a new power supply, i check this against the old one and yes the voltage is still the same but the amps has increased. I connect it all up and register the mac with Virgin Media, i did notice the old firmware, and so i tested ssh and dyndns beforehand which all worked fine, and the menu option are very similar to the NetGear generation routers which have more functions (shame this has been removed).
The MAC addresses between the old and new devices are very different suggesting there has been a new generation of device which doesn’t have the previous problems. If your device has a MAC beginning with the following
MAC: 4c60DE****** (Netgear)
Then i would call Virgin and request a new ‘Super’ Hub. If this begins with a
MAC: 00********** (Netgear Inc)
Then you already have one. From a MAC lookup online it says different company names again suggesting different generations of the device.
Now i jump back onto http://www.speedtest.net and below are the results
Download 101 mb / Upload 10 mb (wired)
Download 26 mb / Upload 11 mb (wireless)
Ok this is more like i was expecting. But the wireless is still poor, and they automatically upgrade the device to the latest firmware. SO the long and short of it as, if you got Virgin ‘Super’ Hub with a MAC of 00********** your actual connection should be fine and your speed reflect this. But the wireless is still poor (this might change in future revisions of the firmware) but you would probably be better off doing it with a device of your own if you can be bothered to set it up. One other little thing, it only has one Antenna in it so you can either broadcast on 2.4 GHz (802.11a/b/g) or 5 GHz (802.11n) meaning if you have devices which don’t support 802.11n then leave it on 2.4 GHz.
If anyone knows a way of using DynDNS directly off the ‘Super’ hub drop me a line i’d love to know how!
I hope this helps someone as I bet there are loads of people out there on the old devices paying for a service they are only getting half of!
Test your ISP for traffic shaping
Test your internet speed from different locations
MAC address company lookup