Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Upgrading my broadband connection...

Upgrading my Broadband...

Finally managed to upgrade my BSNL broadband from an unlimited 256Kbps to an unlimited 512Kbps (still dialup speed compared to the 6Mbps I had in the US)

Before I left (for the US in 2007) I was paying the equivalent of $10 for an "up to" 2 Mbps connection (limited, of course, to some GB). My tenant "upgraded" it to an
unlimited plan after getting one shocker of a bill (around 20,000 Rs ~ $400) one fine month. Guess that comes with having teenage children..
That plan, unfortunately had a speed cap of 256 Kbps.

Once in the US I was a little disappointed at the relatively high rates for broadband, not to mention that taking only Broadband was more expensive than taking a phoneline + broadband. So imaging my surprise (shock) when I get back 2 years later - Broadband has not gotten any cheaper - I cannot get a 2 Mbps connection (unlimited) without giving the proverbial arm and leg (or in this case at least the finger).

After a few days of "research" - which mostly constituted visiting broadband forum sites - came to the conclusion that Airtel could be a good choice. But I did want to give BSNL a fair chance before that.

Apparently you cannot submit a request online (the concept of doing anything online seems to be alien to BSNL), so after one false start on a Saturday that turned out to be the 2nd Saturday of the month (the BSNL office was closed) - went in and submitted an application (which was basically on a small slip of paper not even big enough to wipe your rear cleanly).
I was highly skeptical that the slip would make its way to the right place - so lo and behold my surprise when, on the following Wednesday, the net started feeling a little faster!
I found that it had been upgraded to 512 kbps. Miracles still happen! (I guess it is all about expectations!).

One problem I did face though - and this was on Friday evening and Saturday morning, some websites were not accessible (I could access google, linkedin, and other popular sites - but some sites just wouldn't open). A quick net search followed with all suggestions pointing to try and change the MTU size to a lower value.

After a couple of hours spent Saturday morning, which included changing the MTU on the macbook and the Dlink modem, I just gave up - but, lady luck was still smiling on me half an hour later everything was back online! I guess someone somewhere in BSNL must have reset some routers (I use opendns - so I don't think it was a DNS issue).

Next stop - deciding if I want one more "backup" connection or maybe a data card connection...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Replacing my Broadband ADSL modem

The last week has been interesting. My ever so reliable BSNL broadband connection gave way. I guess I must have bragged about its stability one too many times :-( .

The problem turned out to be in the modem (to be specific the power supply to the Modem). Didn't find this out easily though - after being shunted between the BSNL "Lineman" and the Broadband support guy (from a company called Syscon). After two days (and about 20 calls) the Broadband support guy finally shows up and confirms that the modem is out and I need to "come down to the BSNL office and get a new one". I tell him that if he can get me a modem - I'll compensate him for his efforts, as I really didn't have the time to go and buy a modem.

So he does that - ever so diligently. He installs the modem when I'm not at home - so I tell him that I will need to observe the connection for 24 hours before I can pay him.

I reach home after a hard day's work and find that the modem installed looks to be a used one (it even has a neat cut across the "Warranty void if seal broken" sticker).

I get livid and the guy from Syscon keeps changing his story from "It's a rental modem" to "You can buy the modem". He has a fishy "friend" with him who has supplied him with the modem. Long story short I tell him to take the modem and put it in a suitable place. I then order a D-Link GLB 802C ADSL2+ modem (I already have WRT54GL - flashed with dd-wrt, a Belkin N1 and a Belkin 4-port Gateway router - so I really needed something basic).

But the modem configuration turned out to be more than the plug and pray I hoped it would be.

Here's what I ended up doing (after connecting it to the Belkin WAN port failed to get me on the net) - and after 3 hours of futzing around with Dynamic IP mode and PPPoE mode on the Belkin router.

Connected directly to the modem through the Ethernet port with my macbook.

  1. Access the Web admin GUI (through
  2. Disable the DHCP Server (set the DHCP mode to none)
  3. Enable the BSNL connection (by default MTNL was enabled). Access this through the Quick Configuration link.
  4. Put the modem in a "Bridge mode" - the Belkin gateway would take care of setting up the PPPoE connection (basically user authentication).
  5. Pray

and it worked - I have my reliable net connection back!

Next challenge - figure out if the ~100 ms roundtrip to speedtest.net is ok.