How to configure your old Telstra or Optus modem to use with another Internet provider
- Most modems easily reconfigurable
- Popular manufacturers include belkin, Netgear and Netcomm
- Telstra, Optus and iiNet all deliver branded modems
Mobile phones have a market model that most people can wrap their heads around. In exchange for 24 months of guaranteed service, mobile providers will furnish you with the latest handset for free (or for a few dollars a month). The long contract offsets the price of a device that would otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars to buy upfront.
With ADSL2+ broadband services, the relationship between hardware and contract length is less clear. Many providers still want to commit you to a 2 year contract, in exchange for a modem that would cost you about $100 retail. And for many people who have had a broadband connection in the past (or are coming from another provider), the equation is even more unappealing – you already have a modem, why commit to another 2 years for a piece of hardware that duplicates something you already own?
Not everyone gets that a modem/router is an unglamorous, functional piece of hardware. It’s more akin to a toaster than a mobile phone, in that a good one should last years and upgrading will offer little benefit unless standards have changed or your old one goes on the fritz. A modem/router is something that sits in a corner near the phone line, blinking away and only getting a look-in once in a while for a reset, or for when the cat needs a hot spot to lie down.
With that in mind, many service providers now offer short contracts with no modem included, to attract people who want more flexibility, or are on short term leases, and who otherwise have the hardware already. It’s similar to the market for SIM only mobile plans (for people who don’t need a handset) or even items like the Mac Mini, a cheap Apple PC that is just a brick, with no screen, mouse or keyboard, ready for people who already have that stuff and just want to switch to a Mac.
Modem? Modem/Router? Wi-Fi?
To clarify: the modem is the device that plugs into your phone line, takes in the electrical signal, and turns it into something your computer can then understand. “Modem” is a word made up of MOdulator and DEModulator. ‘Modulation’ is the act of turning raw data into transferrable digital bits and pieces; so the modem MOdulates the data you send, and DEModulates the data you receive.
A router is a device that takes that connection from the modem, and acts a multi-adaptor for many connections.
Wi-Fi is a short-range wireless technology that allows devices within 50 metres or so to connect to your modem, share the internet connection, and also share other resources (like printers and hard drives).
So, a Wi-Fi modem/router is an all-in-one device that gets your connection, and then routes it wirelessly around your house. It’s what most people are looking for when they want ‘Wireless ADSL2+’ or ‘Wireless Broadband’. It’s easy to confuse with Mobile Broadband, which is a modem that connects wirelessly all the way to a mobile tower, receiving its internet feed from there.
What do you mean by ‘reconfigure’?
Many modems are not built to meet the needs of a particular service provider. They’re made and sold as common pieces of equipment for anyone to buy from a JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman. So when Telstra gives you a modem with your contract, it comes pre-configured with details relevant to the Telstra connection – but you can easily go into the settings of your modem and change some of those settings to work with your new service provider. Even if you see Telstra or Optus branding all over the page, you can ignore all of that and cut straight through to the stuff that matters.
Note – these are for basic settings. Many re-badged modems have had advanced port forwarding settings locked out, which requires a good deal of technical knowledge to overcome. This is for simple reconfigurations allowing for basic connections.
Note 2 - Many technical support teams are trained to deal with some modems that they don’t offer, so it’s always a good idea to check with technical support as well, if this guide doesn’t help you.
For the last 5 or 6 years, Telstra has used modems manufactured by 2Wire and Technicolor. The 2Wire ones are very common, and most technical support teams are experienced in reconfiguring them.
The ‘Telstra Home Network Gateway’ is not available for retail sale. Telstra was the only firm in Australia that sold them, offered for free on their old bundle plans from 2007. They are manufactured by 2Wire, which is now owned by British electronics firm Pace. Sidenote – Pace also make many models of set-top-unit for Foxtel.
1. Open your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Chrome).
2. In the address bar, type in http://gateway.2wire.net
3. You will see this screen
4. Click on ‘Broadband Link’ on the top menu
5. Select ‘Advanced Settings in the Broadband Link sub-menu
6. Under ‘Broadband Network’, select ‘PPPoE’ in the Connection type drop down menu (this will usually already be the type selected)
7. In the username and password field will be your old Telstra email address and password. Change these to the relevant details with your new service provider, and then click ‘Save’ down the bottom.
8. Wait for the modem to re-authenticate. Takes 2 minutes. If you want to make double sure it will work, turn the modem on and off again, or unplug it and plug it back in.
This has been sold through Telstra for a year or so, and it’s an exceptional piece of kit. It supports all Wi-Fi speed profiles, multicasting, IPV6 and gigabit Ethernet. All of that is gravy for people who know how to use it; otherwise, just be happy you have a modem that will be top-of-the-line for the next 5 years or more.
Technicolor used to be Thomson, a French 150 year old multi-national. They changed their name recently to better crack the US market, where their ‘Technicolor’ film technology was their only product with household recognition in the US. They also now own RCA, one of the very oldest electronics firms (you know those red-white-yellow cables for your TV? Those are called RCA cables).
1. Open your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Chrome).
2. In the address bar, type in 192.168.1.254 or http://dsldevice.lan
3. You will see this screen
4. Click on Broadband Connection
5. Click on Internet services
6. Click on Internet
7. Click on details
8. In the username and password field will be your old Telstra email address and password. Change these to the relevant details with your new service provider, and then click ‘Save’ down the bottom.
9. Wait for the modem to re-authenticate. Takes 2 minutes. If you want to make double sure it will work, turn the modem on and off again, or unplug it and plug it back in.
Netgear DG834GU v5
Optus has been using this Netgear Wi-Fi modem/router for a while now, which it offers free on almost all plans. As such, it’s not the most fantastic modem – but it will do the job.
Unusually for Optus, they’ve actually locked this down more than Telstra have with their modems. It can be unlocked, but takes a little work.
Netgear itself is a big US network equipment firm, with most of its stuff made all over the place. Or in other words, China. Netgear modems, like Netcomm modems, have a 'standard kit' quality to them.
Connect via an ethernet cable.
- Browse to http://10.1.1.1/CA_HiddenPage.htm (case sensitive)
- Disable the Configuration Assistant & clock Apply.
- Once the modem has restarted, browse to http://10.1.1.1 and log in.
- Click Basic Settings.
- Enter your username & password for your new service provider and click Apply. This is normally the full email address.
Default login details for the modem are:
- Username; admin
- Password; password
iiNet developed the BoB line of modems to be more than just a router. The first one was a rebranded Belkin, and they have just about every feature you can shake a stick at, including advanced VoIP configurations. They’re also quite gorgeous to look at.
But a lot of people don’t use 99% of the features in the BoB, and just need a Wi-Fi modem. Luckily, iiNet are pretty good at allowing the modem to be used with other ISPs, with no drastic steps to overcome.
Belkin’s own N-300 modem is the retail, non-branded equivalent of the first BoB, and adheres to the same commands.
iiNet developed the Bob Lite themselves, including the hardware. Same goes for the Bob 2.
For all three of these units, the log-in page is the same.
- Browse to 10.1.1.1
- If you’re asked for a username and password, the default for both is ‘admin’
- In all three modems, there should be an ‘ISP settings’ page. As per above, click there, enter the appropriate details from your service provider, save and reset. And BoB’s your uncle! (haw haw)
As you can see, the principles are the same. With a few exceptions, most modem/routers that have been provided for free with your ISP in the past can be reconfigured for use with a new service provider. All you need on hand are the username and password details for your new ISP, and the browser address your modem can be reached at. Worst case scenario, the manufacturer can be reached by phone for these details.
Telstra Launches New Bundling Options for Belong
- Telstra's new low-cost brand debut
- Flexible no-contract options
- Now available across Australia
Late in 2013, telecom giant Telstra quietly lit the fuse on a new streamlined, low-cost internet service provider via their new “Belong” brand. Since last October, Belong has been offering no-contract broadband solutions in the Sydney region, and has recently expanded across Australia.
Telstra has had a low-cost alternative in the works for some time now. Telstra digital executive director Gerd Schenkel, in an interview with the Australia Financial Review in late 2012, explained that Telstra was shifting their fixed-line broadband strategy away from network construction to focus on improving customer service. Mr Shenkel stated that Telstra’s goal was to “…lead the core business into a lower-cost world [because] ultimately the whole company needs to become lower cost”.
The origins of Belong lie in Telstra’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase the South Australian Adam Internet brand mid-2013. The purchase of Adam internet proved unsuccessful due to objections from rival internet providers and the ACCC, but just three months later Telstra, in a dynamic move, launched the Belong brand with the slogan “Dance to your own beat”. The launch was accompanied by a low-key social media campaign, encouraging users to post “killer dance moves” with the hashtag #DanceToBelong on their social accounts.
Belong’s mission statement describes the service as “a new way to get broadband in Australia, one so ideal that it doesn’t need to lock people in to a long term contract; people belong because they want to.” Belong offers 24/7 support, including chat support on the belong.com.au website. Feedback on the popular Australian broadband forum Whirlpool supports this- with many users posting positive feedback describing increases in speed and customer service, amongst other benefits to the service. Hit the jump to view the thread and see some more detailed consumer opinions.
The major draw of Belong is the simplified pricing structure, offering just two separate plans- Regular and Large. Regular offers 70GB of ADSL2+ per month for just $50 per month, or $70 including land line rental. The Large plan offers a whopping 250GB ADSL2+ per month for just $60, or $80 per month including land line rental. The land line service offered with the Belong bundles offers unlimited local calls and 13/1300 numbers
Belong commits to no hidden costs and simple, ‘what you see is what you get’’ services - once you reach your quota your service is slowed down to ADSL1 speeds, roughly 5-10% of average ADSL2+ speeds, for the remainder of the month. Both of these offers are contract-free, and Belong is waiving the $80 activation fee for new customers in addition to discounting the cost of their $99 Belong ADSL2+ modem to just $1. This offer lasts until the end of May 2014.
Altogether Belong is shaping up to become a major player in the ISP industry, and seems to be the provider of choice for consumers seeking a flexible, budget conscious broadband solution. If you’d like to know more about Belong or check their availability in your area, give them a call on 1300 652 369.
Should you leave Telstra?
- P2P throttling causing angst
- Plenty of other providers
- Unlimited plans are friendlier for downloaders
Last week Fairfax Press reported that Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications provider, will be trialing P2P throttling on a small number of Victorian users. This means that for those affected, Bit Torrent speeds will slow down significantly.
But don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. If you are a Victorian Telstra customer, you have the option to opt-out of the trial by calling 13 7663. Furthermore, not everybody will be affected, but it’s still worth calling to check.
What does this mean for the future?
This is a bold move by Telstra, and whilst it is just a trial, it does indicate that Telstra have an agenda against copyright infringing downloads. Right now, through Telstra’s use of deep-packet inspection, bit torrent users are being affected specifically. But beware, there’s no stopping Telstra from targeting users who stream illegally, gamers or heavy skype users. Essentially, consumption of internet is increasing and in order to maintain high speeds for all users, Telstra is trialing a reduction of bit torrent usage. This means that if you're a low data user on the Telstra network, this agenda will actually improve your broadband service. But if you're not and you want to continue downloading endless amounts of TV and movies at high speeds, perhaps it's time to move to a more suitable provider.
What are your ISP options?
As a high data user who enjoys saving hundreds of dollars a month through using Bit Torrents as opposed to purchasing DVDs and cable TV, here are some plans you may like to consider:
Club Telco – cheapest unlimited broadband plans on the market
- From $25 per month
- $30 monthly phone line rental
- $50 set up fee
- No contract
Club Telco really brings value for money, but make sure you give them a call. Their $25 per month fee is not available in all areas, call Club Telco to find out if they can service your area and how much they will charge you. Club Telco’s number is 1300 185 155
TPG – great value bundles and wide availability
- $49.99 per month for unlimited broadband
- OR $59.99 per month for unlimited broadband and home phone bundle (cheaper than paying $30 for line rental per month)
- $100 set up fee on an 18 month contract
TPG are great, particularly if you want to bundle with a home phone and actually plan on making calls. For TPG, give us a call on 1300 106 571, we are a dealer for them.
In terms of value, these plans are great, but if you want super high speeds, you may like to consider cable internet.
Optus – best value cable provider, they also offer their service as a standalone product rather than in a bundle
- $100 per month for 500GB of data
- No set up fees
- Free modem for new users
- 24 month contract
Imagine speeds of up to 100 mbps, that’s over four times faster than ADSL2+. If cable is something you are considering, give Optus a call on 1300 137 897
High data users, if you want to continue using as much internet as you please and to do anything you want, perhaps remaining with Telstra is not the best idea. It’s worth giving one of the competing providers a call, you’ll receive a higher data allowance for a lower price. Plus, your precious TV shows, movies, gaming and skype will be protected!
How Telstra Could Win Back Our Hearts
- The real competition is international
- NBN really about eliminating Telstra
- The alternatives, and lack of real options
Understanding the Australian telecommunications industry mostly means understanding Telstra, and then the rest. In few places in the industrialized world does a private company have such a stranglehold on such a vital utility as communications, with such implicit government support.
This shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – a national champion that offers a AAA Rated security for ‘Mum and Dad” investors, with a market model that literally can’t lose (Telstra makes plenty of money from disgruntled citizens who think they’re not connected to Telstra) seems like the height of mixed-market liberal economic reform: using market pressure to keep a utility monopoly innovative, removing the complacency and stagnation that firms like this face when supported by direct taxpayer investment. The only problem? It hasn’t worked from Day One, and Telstra refuses to apologize or acknowledge this. And it could have been (and one day might be ) so very different.
What Telstra Is
Telstra is an incumbent telecom carrier. In context this means that they are a private monopoly owner of a formerly state-owned utility. This started in earnest under John Howard, who took steps to privatize all of Telstra in stages, allowing small investors to buy shares in a company that provided almost all last-mile access to individual homes.
Last Mile access is 99.9% of all the investment, headaches and moneymaking in developing a national communications network. The scale of a national telecom network is enormous, even with a tiny population like in Australia. Less than 20 individual lines links the entire country for overseas traffic. The domestic network terminates at about 5000 points around the country , generally at telephone exchanges.
The Last Mile, from exchange to end user, is in the copper telephone wire from these exchanges to the actual user premises. In Australia, this means 12 million individual connections, and rapidly growing as Australia builds new homes and splits large homes into multi dwelling units. It’s a big job: but owning this part of the chain gives you all the leverage. It means that everyone has to go through you and pay a tariff to reach paying customers.
In the wider points of the network, there’s more competition, but less money to be made. Duplicating a big pipe into the country is relatively easy: duplicating a 5000 node network is fiendishly difficult. Duplicating a network of 12 million nodes and constantly growing is beyond the scope of almost any private company, which is why it was left to governments in the first place.
What Telstra has done to upset people
The idea of privatizing a big public utility is to use market forces to encourage employees to deliver the best service possible, because they’ll be incentivized by the money. And for investors, it’s a safe bet to invest money in a company that can’t really fail to deliver a profit, unless that particular utility goes out of fashion (for instance, if you invested in a formerly state owned gas utility just as a breakthrough comes along in clean nuclear tech).
But Telstra has generally focused on squeezing as much value out of its existing copper network as possible, while extracting automatic revenue from it. Problems with the network that needs investment? No sweat, just jack up access fees to cover it - what are customers going to do- not pay, and have no connection? Regulator doesn’t like that? No problem, we’ll just stall until a new government comes along.
At the same time, Telstra has used powerful lobbyists to reduce the obligation to provide a quality service – that might mean getting rid of Grade of Service guidelines guaranteeing audio fidelity, proximity to an exchange to service a broadband signal, or guaranteed turn around times on faults.
In other words, Telstra has not used the market to encourage better performance, it has used its monopoly to guarantee more money in Telstra coffers. True, it shares this largesse with shareholders, and reinvests into its mobile network - a mobile network for voice and data that might be terribly fast, but increasingly irrelevant for how Aussies want to use the web. Small download allowances, high latency and frequent dropouts – these can’t be overcome easily unless you build 12 million towers.
Yeah, but, not quite
Telstra pays its salesmen well, and encourages every branch of its workforce to have sales on its mind. Billing, tech support – it doesn’t matter, part of the ‘solution’ to any problem should involve spending more money with Telstra.
This is good if you want to make money, but bad if you want to provide a utility. And Telstra seems dead-set on proving it wants to do the former. Why not just go into finance, and leave the running of a telecom network to a company committed to doing just that?
Because Telstra is not the gutsy, competitive, free market champion it thinks it is. It’s got the same problem that a government run company does. It doesn’t have to do much to stay ahead, so why do anything at all? Changing anything requires several layers of approvals, all while the customer waits. The customer can go elsewhere – or can they? In the case of ADSL (still the most widely available means to achieve a reliable broadband connection) Telstra still makes money. The customer can kind of vote with their feet, but the consequences to Telstra are minimal. You’re still paying them.
BT in the UK is a close analogue. Like Telstra, it is a private incumbent provider. Unlike Telstra, it has applied a certain pride to the role of being the country’s backbone, maintaining steady upgrades to its infrastructure and working closely with the UK government to make sure they can be trusted to act in the best interest of the nation. They make profits.
BT also decided early on to draw a line between their retail and wholesale arm, calling their wholesale arm Openreach. It keeps ‘BT’ out of a customer’s mind when applying for a service, if they happen to have a problem with BT. Telstra ostensibly did the same by calling their internet retail arm BigPond and their mobile arm MobileNet, but they retained the Telstra name for both their wholesale and retail telephony arms, clouding the issue – and have in the past gone through fits and starts in blurring the line between their wholesale and retail operations.
Maybe it’s culture- the UK is a major hub for the European internet, and a British man (Sir Tim Berners Lee) was one of the web’s architects. The UK has also always had a soft spot for government or crown bureaucracies who handle vital interests with a certain ‘good of the nation’ attitude.
Australia has been similarly inclined in the past, but throughout the 80’s and 90’s have sought a more American style liberal economy with little to no state involvement. This is all well and good when it comes to goods and services, but underlying infrastructure requires a focus on performance over profit. It’s what taxes were made for.
Looks good: but will it last?
Of course, this is the point of the NBN – it’s not about delivering a ‘gold plated’ network for internet junkies, it’s about removing Telstra’s monopoly status. The fact that it will be faster and better is a result of technological advancement: recreating a copper telephone network would be ridiculous - copper was only used because it was already there. And buying the existing network would cost roughly the same but fail to resolve the technical issues with it.
It boggles the mind why people would want to stop it- the only company who would benefit from staying with the copper access network is Telstra, and even their shareholders don’t want it. The main alternative peddled by the Coalition in opposition is bringing fibre to about every 200 homes, and then utilizing the existing copper network for the rest of the way.
That’s not bad, and it’s what we would have had ten years ago if Telstra had been primarily concerned with making sure we had a good network. It’s also not clear if this would remove Telstra’s monopoly, or just concentrate it down to a last few hundred metres, rather than a last mile. Shadow Comms Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that an NBNco under his aegis would own the entire copper network - but he has never factored in the cost of buying even a shortened copper network from Telstra into his cost projections. There just seems to be this idea that under a coalition government, Telstra would grow bored with making money and start giving away prime assets.
In fact, Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN, as opposed to Fibre-to-the-Home or FttH) is ONLY about bringing faster broadband, and does NOTHING to remove the real problem: a private monopoly. So any suggestion that the current NBN plan is merely about delivering faster porn and illegal downloads to basement dwellers shrivels in the face of the proposed alternative - a network that still does that, with none of the other benefits.
Could the NBNco, the government corporation, become another Telstra? Yes, absolutely. They’ll be a monopoly. But they’ll be accountable to voters and their representatives.
And in the end, even if they become hopelessly corrupt…we’ll still have a strong network that is hugely scalable to future needs, and can be easily built on in a way that the current network can’t. How much easier? Thanks to Fibre’s much better speed-over-distance capability, the number of interconnection points goes from 5000 to 121. This means a fault in one point of interconnect can affect 100,000 customers: but it also means maintenance and upgrades can immediately affect the same number.
The NBN will supposedly relegate Telstra to a position of having to compete down in the trenches with everyone else. No more protection, no more premium branding – they buy access from NBNco like everyone else. After all they’ve pulled, they’ll get devoured by aggressive competitors like TPG, or superior customer service providers like Internode and iPrimus…right?
Maybe, but not for a while. They’re still heavily involved in the rollout, and have been paid enough to account for their lost monopoly for several years. That gives them time to squeeze the last drops out of their current regime, and to shore up their reputation in the meantime. And if the coalition wins and starts to dismantle the current NBN, then the bones of it might get turned over to Telstra anyway. So then we’re dealing with a monster with better weapons.
Unless they find their soul. Telstra’s real competition doesn’t quite reside in Australia. Telecommunications has become a global game, with massive conglomerates looking beyond their borders for dominance. Spain’s Telefonica provides fixed and mobile communications for a huge part of Europe. Vodafone, a UK company, has a total subscriber base of 440 million, which is 7 times the population of the UK.
Telstra has had little luck expanding out of Australia, where it commands over half of a market of 22 million subscribers, making them about a third of the size of Qatar’s largest mobile provider. They have some customers in Hong Kong, a venture in New Zealand that they just sold to Vodafone, and that’s it.
In this part of the world, the Big Bad is Singapore Telecom (SingTel), with half a billion customers – and 100% ownership of Optus. Were Australia worth the effort, SingTel could crush Telstra eventually.
Vodafone has a foothold in Australia – one that loses them money. But if Vodafone wanted to come and build fibre networks, they could. They do it in the UK, where they compete directly with BT.
US telcos are a different animal – but if regulation ever tightens in the US, At&T and Verizon might see Australia as a place for expansion.
The problem with all of these is that none of these companies could be trusted to take on the difficulty of networking such a large, empty place. They would focus just on the juicy metro areas, extracting profits and not giving a hoot about the sparsely populated regional and rural areas.
So what? You might say - Telstra has demonstrated the same lack of interest. But Telstra’s head offices are in Australia. Their linesman, engineers and management are mostly Australian. They care. They’re in the DNA of this country – their exposure to this place makes them one of the best mobile networkers in the world. They’re the only company who could possibly care.
A Telstra that actually cares about the end result would be a huge blessing. Imagine a national carrier who wanted to be around 100 years, rather than one acting like a fly-by-night company extracting short term profits and then letting their hard-built infrastructure collapse. Imagine having pride as a Telstra shareholder, rather than biting your nails hoping that their latest PR bungle wouldn't threaten your 28c dividend.
If Telstra is unwilling to do it, another company would normally step in. But no Australian company can drum up that type of money from investors without that monopoly guarantee, because they couldn't pay back the initial investment for several decades. There’s just not enough people, not enough scale. If not the NBN, tt has to be Telstra. Unless we can find a foreign company that for some reason, really really cares about the good people of rural WA, where there’s 2 paying subscribers every 200 kilometres.
Telstra has squandered a golden opportunity to prove that privatization of public utilities can work – for more than just disinterested shareholders. They can boast all they like about owning half the market – but they started out with ALL of the market, and still exert their weight around, and STILL managed to lose 50% of subscribers; that’s how bad they’ve pissed people off.
But alas, for Australians, there’s little room for anyone else to do the job of being a sterling, dynamic infrastructure and utility telco, short of the government. If Telstra wanted to win back the hearts and minds of more than just the people franking their dividend each quarter, they’d have to demonstrate a commitment to doing what they say they’re here to do: provide telecommunications, not act as a finance company who happen to own a telecom network.
Telstra has a long and rich history in the Australian telecommunications industry. Telstra initially started as a government owned organisation and was founded by the Commonwealth in 1975. Back then, Telstra was the country’s only telco and they were solely responsible for providing communications connections throughout the country.
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