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Orcon Homehub/ADSL2 Setup - A Quick Review

, posted: 25-Jul-2008 12:25

After going unbundled with Orcon's Gold+ Account I was having issues getting online and was recommended an Orcon HomeHub over D-Link DST-502T. The 502T was theoretically more than capable of doing ADSL2+ (as I was running it at home on the same plan already). But at $5 a month, and to solve a problem I thought, stuff it, and got one sent out.


Siemens SX753


The HomeHub is really just a Siemens SX-763 WLAN DSL Router. Its running a slightly modified firmware that has the Orcon settings preset. You can't flash newer vesions of Firmware, although Orcon can from their side of things. This could lead to an interesting future for this little hub - more on that later.
The Homehub features (according to Orcon) -

"This sleek wireless router lets you access your Broadband from anywhere in your house without plugs or cables.
What's more, because our network can talk to it, our helpdesk can easily support the device remotely to get you back online faster if there is ever a problem.
In the future, we'll be teaching the Homehub some cool new tricks to give you an even better Orcon experience through new and interesting services, so stay tuned..."


On the Siemens site it lists it features as -


  • High-speed wireless data transfer at up to 108 Mbps (compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g)

  • Integrated ADSL 2+ modem

  • 4 Port 10/100 Hub

  • External broadband access modem support (e. g. VDSL, cable)

  • Support for up to 6 VoIP public telephone accounts (SIP Protocol)

  • USB Support (SMB/FTP/Web/Printer).


So after ordering it, the unit arrived a couple of days later, interestingly I had to pay postage, with a white Orcon slip over a standard Siemens box. In the box were all the cables one could ever need to setup and use the unit. Network cable, phone, filters etc... Annoyingly Siemens have gone with RJ-45 (Network) Adaptor plug for the phone cable, not the smaller and standard phone plug - so don't go loosing your cables.
The Unit is one of the nicer Routers or modems I've seen, although it does feel a but light and plasticy. All the ports are nicely placed on the back. It can be mounted on a wall or look fine on a desk.


Homehub Back Ports

The web inerface is pleasent to look at, and functionally seems to include all the settings. There's wizards both for the absolutely basics and also for the security features. Add to that the normal Advanced Settings, It's feature packed but simple to get around. There's support for all the necessary wireless standards - WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK/WPA-PSK.
I'd love to go into the VOIP settings but as I have never been too interested in it before, I wouldn't know much. The fact they're there, and are quite feature complete shows a feature I imagine Orcon will use in the future.

Connection wise, the wireless seems solid, although I personally use an Apple Airport Extreme to run a parallel 5ghz Only 11N based network and a 2.4Ghz for older clients. Excessive. Maybe. A bonus of using the $5 a month homehub though.
Internet wise, in the Auckland CBD, just off K Rd I've got a 12286 kbps (upstream) ADSL Connection. Its strange as when the connection was first setup I was getting up to 22500kbps on the connection - close to ADSL2's limit - and now its back down to the top of ADSL1's top....... Orcon?
UPDATE As you'll see in the first comment, theres a bug and it's being worked on - although 2 weeks later and I'm still stuck at the same connection rate - and just enjoyed a shit 11k/s uploade to my webserver in the states. AWESOME! (NOT).
UPDATE 2 Well 2 weeks later (8 Aug) and we're finally back at full speed ADSL2 again - the modem is reporting 21412 kbps (downstream) / 1328 kbps (upstream) - near theoretical limits. I'll post an updated speed test blog soon.

Heres some results from speedtest.net -

Auckland -> Auckland (WorldxChange Communications) - 9907 Down / 354 Up


Auckland -> Christchurch (Snap Internet) - 6587 Down / 266 Up


Auckland -> Sydney (Mammoth Media) - 3327 Down / 333 Up


Auckland -> London (Namesco) - 1723 Down / 180 Up


Auckland -> San Francisco (Unwired) - 2739 Down / 194 Up


Things that aren't cool -
USB only does FTP no SFTP so not great for putting online.

Only 54g Wireless, although future proof in other features, if this was offered with 11n wireless it would be a must have for Orcon users.

The DHCP server won't list connected devices - Wireless status lists the Host name, Mac and IP's of any wireless clients but for the overall IP's - nothing. The settings are there - just broken, a bug that I hope Orcon will get on to fixing.
UPDATE Orcon do indeed have a forthcoming update. Orcon were nice enough to flash mine and it does indeed fix the issue and give you a bunch more information as to the ADSL2 connection quality.

Basic NAT Support - Doesn't do true UPnP/NAT-PMP. So, in my case, no Back to My Mac support between home and work. Just lots of manual and possibly insecure setup.

Things that are cool -
USB Features.
Looks good.
A full featured router for only $5 a month (on Orcon).
Assumably VOIP support from Orcon in the future.


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Comment by duncanblair, on 25-Jul-2008 14:55

Great review Simon. Will definitely have a chat to Siemens regarding the DHCP server bug and see what we can do.

Also just a quick note that your drop in sync rate has likely been caused by a known issue that we have currently (see http://www.orcon.net.nz/system_status/ for more on this). We are waiting on a fix, so you should be back to normal in the next week or so.

Cheers,
Duncan Blair
Group Product Manager
Orcon


Comment by sbiddle, on 25-Jul-2008 20:08

Just one comment..

"Annoyingly Siemens have gone with RJ
45 (Network) Adaptor plug for the phone cable, not the smaller and standard phone plug
so don't go loosing your cables."

RJ11/12 plugs are designed to fit into a RJ45 socket. There is no need to use an RJ45 cable
a regular phone cable with work fine.


Comment by russell, on 19-Sep-2008 21:38

Hi, any chance you could explain or point to some documentation on how to connect a HomeHub to a Macintosh with an Airport card? I can't figure out how to make heads or tails of the Window documentation and the rest of the supplied CD is all .exe files. How can I get the Mac to recognize the wireless system? It just keeps telling me I can either go on the internet with Airport or built
in Ethernet. Thinking I may have to go back to my crappy Vodem...



TIA



russell


Comment by Jean, on 23-Dec-2008 21:53

My connections keeps dropping every 10 mins I have only just moved ISP to Orcon and now I am finding this very annoying.



I do not wish to have to log off and then re
connect to the net just because the hub cannot stay connected. Thinking of going back to my old provider.


Comment by Mike, on 3-Jun-2009 12:19

The Siemens SX763 is a useless piece of junk. Have you *ever* seen a router on which you can't open a port *RANGE*?! If you want to open let's say port 21000 to 21100 for PASV FTP you'll have to manually enter 21000, 21001, 21002, 21003...21100. One line per port, bloody ridiculous.

Furthermore if you attach a USB disk of 500 GB the homehub will hang. If you attach a printer the homehub will reset everytime you are halfway printing a page.

And the best is yet to come: if you export your configuration, then reset to factory defaults, then import again... haha, doesn't work.

And yes, when you download big files using a download manager it will loose connection every 5 minutes and 30 seconds (but hey, don't complain; sometimes only after 11 minutes).

Useless piece of crap, stay away from this "router" and buy something decent (like a DrayTek Vigor 2820Vn; expensive but at least it does what it's designed for).

Oh and about Orcon? If you live next to the exchange it's good, anything else; count on max 3Mbps instead of 24...

But then again, all ISP's in NZ are crap but that's just because we're still in the 50's internet technology wise...


Author's note by lotech, on 10-Jun-2009 15:25

Indeed, I must say I ended getting a Dynalink RTA-1320, which offers half bridge mode into my new Dual Band Airport Extreme to get the (in my opinion) perfect networking setup. The 1320 just deals with the login to ISP/ADSL and then passes EVERYTHING to the Airport which then runs as a firewall and deals with necessary port forwarding and uPnP.
FYI the best place for getting this setup is here - http://www.ben.geek.nz/adsl-routing-solution-in-detail/

I have kept an Homehub at work and use it as our modem, backup b/g wifi network and DHCP server/firewall. Although reliable enough I have had times where the internet is working and the wifi isn't, strange half displayed config pages and general feelings of an average product.
One reason I think this is is that Orcon have to authorise and distribute the firmware updates themselves so there can be a huge lag between newest updates and the one on your homehub. And when they do update, often it will just kill your connection and then I end up with a phone call from one of my workmates saying 'the internet's not working' when they get to work in the morning.


Comment by RW, on 28-Aug-2009 02:16

My best recommendation having seen the best and the worst of orcon is:
Enjoy it if you have a good connection - orcon have a great product when going well. Where they seem to fall down is on troubleshooting - if your connection goes bad and they seem to be taking unusual amounts of time to fix it - bail and bail fast. because their second letdown is that after failing for long periods of time to correct issues, the tendency seems to be to deny any responsibilities for said letdowns. sad - but they seem to be aspiring to a former regime telecom type of arrogance on that front


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simon 
Auckland
New Zealand


I run a post production company specialising mainly in TV & Commercials. I also do graphic and motion design when it's there to be done. I've used Windows my whole life, but am now run Macs exclusively in our office and at home. Few issues. It just works.

My current setup is a Early 2008 17" Macbook Pro (C2D 2.5Ghz, 4gb, 320Gb, UWXGA Screen).