Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Frustrations with BellSouth FastAccess DSL

It's a real bummer that Directv DSL went out of business this past fall. In one year of service with those folks we had maybe 2 outages for a total of less than 1 hour. An added bonus was a static ip address which made connecting remotely much easier. Their service was the best I've had yet.

Enter BellSouth FastAccess which is almast as bad as Road Runner was. For starters, the signal drops out several times a week. These outages usually only last a few minutes but sometimes up to several hours. Very annoying. Another kicker is what they apparently do to discourage do-it-yourself home networking. From the start we've had problems posting from certain online forms or email services such as yahoo or hotmail. These problems only occurr when working through our Asante or Linksys router. A direct connection to the modem works fine for all pages and services. Why? Evidently Bellsouth throws a wrench in the works by requiring that data packets be smaller than what the router normally uses in some instances. This is not a problem that can easily be fixed or even discovered by the typical home user. I discovered a solution after many google searches and finally a post to the Asante support forums.

There is a solution though it's a pain in the ass and I've not been able to get it working on all of the computers on our home network which range from Windows XP to Mac OS9 to Mac OSX. Each computer has to be configured to limit the size of it's MTU (maximum transmission unit). The two machines easiest to configure were running OSX. I did a search for configuring MTU in Apple's KBase and came up with this article. Pretty straight forward use of the terminal and the pico text editor to create a script and a file as well as altering another. Though it is described as an "advanced procedure" most anyone could do it if they simply follow the directions. Took me about 10 minutes to do both computers.

As of this writing the XP computer is still not properly configured. I downloaded a recommended shareware program, NetTweak Pro, installed and configured it but with no success. In fact I can no longer access the web on that computer. Nor have I found a solution for reconfiguring the OS9 computer.

Seems like Asante and other router manufacturers could allow for this kind of setting in the router? Perhaps future router firmware updates will include this feature.

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