SaskTel started upgrading its entire infrastructure in early 2013. They are moving to a Fiber to the Home type of delivery. For the majority of users, they simply have the installer come out and change them over to a fiber and have the copper removed. It’s a pretty seamless change over. Previous to the fiber, the best that could be provided to a customer was 25 mbps downstream and 2 mbps upstream. With fibre the maximum bandwidth you can get is 260 mbps downstream and 60 mbps upstream!
One of the problems being encountered with the high end users is the lack of bells and whistles in the Actiontech gateway that is provided as the main router for the new fiber install. Common complaints are poor wireless signal, and very few advanced routing, NAT and firewall options. Because of the way SaskTel has deployed their optical fiber network, you can’t just buy a ‘small office/home office’ (SOHO) router. Most people have one of these already, like a D-Link or LinkSys or their equivalent.
Many customers have turned to an open source router software called pfSense. Using a small form factor PC and adding a second network card or NIC you can easily connect directly to the fiber box without having to use the provided Actiontech.
NOTE: If you have a MAX tv subscription, it is suggested you use the provided Actiontech gateway. While it is possible to set pfSense to work with the MAX services, you may experience degraded or loss of service if it isn’t configured exactly right. Some sources say if you have MAX tv, make sure you have IGMP snooping and make it priority 1. Max and Internet are both coming in on VLAN 1000. This tutorial will only encompass the internet portion.
To begin, you need the following:
- Some sort of PC that can run the pfSense software
- Depending on what you are doing on your network, you may need a bit beefier system. Check here for guidelines!
- If it doesn’t already have it, a second NIC or Ethernet card. While a 100M card will work, it will have issues with bottle necking and won’t give you your full speed. Gigabit (1000M) cards are recommended.
- Download the pfSense CD
We’re not going to re-invent the wheel on this post, but will direct you to a few really good videos on how to install the pfSense software and get it basically working. Check out these YouTube Videos for info:
Tutorial 1 – For a little more advanced users
Tutorial 2 – This one seems to be a bit more of a step by step.
Once you have the software installed and the cables plugged in, you need to set the WAN (this would be the the card that is plugged into the fiber box on Ethernet PORT 1) to a VLAN of 1000.
In your management screen, select the Interfaces table and then go to the assign. This will allow you to change the settings for the interfaces. We need to alter the WAN one to work on VLAN 1000. Sounds scary, but it’s actually really easy.
Click on the tab that says VLANs. This will take us to the correct spot to set one up. There shouldn’t be anything in there yet unless you have already been setting up internal VLANs. Underneath the tabs should be a button that looks like a piece of paper with a plus sign on it. This is the “Add VLAN” button. Press it to get to the next screen.
In the parent interface, you need to select the Ethernet or NIC card that is plugged into the fiber box (Remember: You have to use ETHERNET PORT 1 on the fiber box!). There should only be two interfaces here, unless your computer has other interfaces. This is sort of a trial and error part unless you specifically know which is which. In the VLAN tag area, type in “1000”. For description, I find it easiest to use the word “Fiber”.
When you have them set correctly, press “Save”.
It should take you back to the VLAN tab and show you your new VLAN set up. Select “Interface Assignments” from the top tabs. In the WAN interface, click the pull down and you should see the “Fiber” (or whatever you called it) in the list. Select it.
Open a new window and try to surf. If it fails, then go back to the VLAN and select a different interface. Save it and try to surf again. When you find the right one, it should just start working!
Warning: Any damages caused to your system, property, data, or person as a result of this tutorial are not the responsibility of DTC Consulting or its partners. This article is provided for educational purposes only!