Moving from NTL, my Cable Operator

May 19, 2006

I recently moved house. There's a long story behind that which I might get around to eventually. One of the side effects of the move was that I had to leave my nice and easy NTL Cable, TV and Phone convergent service.

First of all I had to take up a service from BT. I'm not going to moan about the connection charge – we all know BT can charge what it likes for this if there is no competition (there is no alternative, LLU operator at my exchange). BT would not give me my number until I moved in so I couldn't order an ADSL service from anyone else but them. So I decided to wait until I moved in.

ADSL is supplied to your home through your phone line. Even though I was moving to a new house, I had to work with a tiny legacy twisted-pair copper as opposed to the heavy duty shielded coax NTL used. Ideally I would have liked to see a state of the art fibre optic cable bringing in my digital services but we're not there yet.

ADSL is delivered through the same wires as my telephone service, but uses a different frequency. I therefore have to fit an ADSL filter on my phone socket otherwise it will burn out my ear drums (or something like that).

The BT engineer connected a pair of wires to a BT master socket. They are the only people allowed to do this. The Builder is responsible for wiring up all the BT extension sockets throughout my house. Unfortunately they didn't get around to doing this, so befoer my ADSL was installed I decided to do it myself.

I bought a Crone tool from the bargain bucket section at my local PC World. It took just a couple of minutes to connect everything. Inside the master socket I found the builder had fitted a cable with 4 sets of twisted wire, but only three wires of this are actually used. One pair is used to carry the BT signal and the third is used to coordinate the ringing tone across phones plugged into the extension sockets. I believe this leaves 2 pairs of wire redundant.

After throughly researching the market place I ordered my ADSL service from a company called Madasafish. Why these guys? Mainly because they offered the best deal for me in that I got a 5Gb download allowance, 8Mb/s bandwidth (I was told I'd probably get 5.5 but ended up with 6.4), a Static IP address, a free domain (not claimed yet – I already own gravitaz.co.uk), 50MBs of Web space and most importantly a free ethernet modem router.

The modem was important because I didn't want a crappy USB modem. I already have a 4 port modem router and a couple of Buffalo Linksys wireless access points (these were configured as repeaters to work around the construction of my previous house). It was important that I could reuse these – I didn't want to be forced into buying new kit.

Unfortunately my Netgear router thinks it owns the connection – this is because the NTL Cable Modem did not have its own IP address – it simply forwarded traffic across the connection between it and the router, and applied something called MAC filtering which meant that only IP packets for my router could get through.

Both my ADSL Modem/Router and my Netgear router both provide their own firewalls and thus I am suffering from double NATting. My Netgear doesn't let you disable NAT and I haven't worked out how to configure my ADSL Modem/router to just be a Modem (Its a BT 210 Voyager). So I decided to splash out on a 5 port hardware switch off Ebay for a fiver.

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