Thursday, October 11, 2012

The one with better byte

This is just a small update relating to Bell/Aliant FibreOp service in Canada.

I've had FibreOp service since May of this year and I've been thoroughly pleased with it for the most part. The only real issue I've had is lack of support for standard features in the provided router like DHCP reservations and some other things. I also found the wireless would occasionally drop some of my portable devices.

Normally I would just replace it with my trusty Airport Extreme, however the way FibreOp is set up, you need a device that can tag the WAN connection as VLAN 35 and pass untagged frames to the LAN. Like most personal routers, the Airport Extreme isn't capable of this. The Aliant ActionTec router does offer an RFC 1483 Transparent Bridge mode which essentially turns it into a "dumb modem" type device, just untagging the incoming traffic and passing it inside the LAN otherwise untouched. This allows your router of choice to get the external IP and act as a proper router.

I had tried using this mode early on when I first got the service, but was unable to get it to work and just discounted it as a feature of the router that wasn't fully available or functional. However after some further reading and experimentation I've gotten it to work. The key is to release the DHCP lease from within the ActionTec before enabling the Transparent Bridge mode. Otherwise you have to wait out the 2 hours for the lease to expire automatically. I didn't know either of those things last time, and my personal router wouldn't pick up an IP.

Now everything is working fine.