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My Obsolete Notwork

I used to be one of those happy and carefree people who had complete faith in their telecommunications supplier. In fact, I even recommended BT (British Telecom) to other people when they wanted a service where the wet string remained wet most of the time (thereby allowing a few Kbits to pass back and forth), rather than drying up altogether like some suppliers you hear horror stories about. In those days, my Internet connection was provided and paid for by the original Wrox Press in Birmingham. At that time I was managing to scribble some semi-literate content for a few books (about six a year) they published with my name on. The connection was a "proper" leased line at the amazing speed of 512 Kbits both ways, and only cost 6,500 UK pounds (about $12,000) per year.

Of course, when Wrox disappeared, the "only" suddenly became "I can't afford that!", and I switched over to BT's 512 KB down / 256 KB up ADSL Business Service. It's been quite reliable, and I even got a free upgrade to 1 MB / 256 KB last year. The service isn't cheap at about 100 pounds ($190) per month, but is considerably cheaper than the leased line. And, in the price, I get 16 fixed IP addresses and a guarantee of fast service and repair. Plus, the technical help desk is open 24/7, and not even on a premium-rate number!

However, after three and a half years, the rather cheap and nasty router they installed was beginning to show its age. I usually recycle it (switch off, count to 100, and back on) every month on patch Tuesday, otherwise it becomes slow and unreliable. However, to get it to come back on the last couple of times has involved a combination of banging it against the side of the server cabinet and emitting carefully selected expletives, followed by furiously rattling the on/off switch a dozen times. I think it's probably got a wire loose somewhere (rather like me).

So, I phone the ever-helpful tech support people (at 1:30 AM after installing the latest MS patches) and they promise to book the engineer. He appears the next day, looks at the router, and says "Hmmm... I don't have one of those. I'll go back to the stores and dig about and maybe I can find you one". Now, I'd have preferred him to say "...and I will find you one..." - the "maybe" seeming somewhat ominous. And my suspicions proved correct a week later when he hadn't come back, so I'm on the phone again.

No doubt you've experienced one of these kinds of support calls: after four hours I'd spoken to five different people, telling them all the full story, until I ended up at the Broadband Business Sales desk. The very pleasant and helpful lady there then informed me that "...the service I have is obsolete, and hardly anybody still uses it." Hey, thanks for telling me about that when it happened, or even three hours and forty-five minutes ago would have been nice. It seems that I have an "engineer-installed product" which is no longer supported. So what do they recommend? Well, they won't send someone to replace my existing router, but they can sell me a new USB router for 45 pounds and post it to me, pre-configured for the standard dynamically-assigned IP address business service.

Well that's fine, but a) I connect it up using Ethernet to the ISA Server on my local network, and b) I have a NO-NAT fixed IP address service that won't work with the standard dynamically-assigned IP address router setup. Oh, and c) I'm not allowed to interfere with engineer-installed products that belong to BT, so I can't replace the router myself. In the end, after a lot of threats and shouting ("Resistance is Futile..."), they agreed they would replace the router free of charge, and send an engineer to install and configure it. I suppose they're frightened of what I might put on the end of wire otherwise. And I've only got to wait two weeks!

Needless to say, Microsoft decided two days later to release an emergency patch. I did the install, and stupidly recycled the router as usual. Or, to be mode accurate, I did a "recy" because only half the process worked. Despite a half hour stint consisting of the usual bang-on-side-of-cabinet-swear-profusely-fiddle-with-switch-throw-on-floor-jump-up-and-down-on, it never did reach the "cle" part of the process and start up again. And I thought I'd mastered this hardware engineering thing. Thankfully, I had a spare ADSL router I purchased a year or so ago in the bottom of the wardrobe hidden behind my wife's shoes (so she never knew I'd bought it). It's a neat D-Link 504T, and just needed configuring.

Thanks to several Web sites (particularly http://adslguide.org and BT's own site) I managed to figure out the settings required. Mind you, it's interesting that the login page for the router seems unable to cope with all the usual characters you might use in a proper complex password, meaning I became very familiar with the reset button on the back of the router while setting it up. Come on D-Link, you can do better than that. Anyway, after a couple of hours, I got it all done, plugged it into the ADSL line, and it works! A network instead of a notwork! So, if you have a similar setup (BT Business Broadband NO-NAT and not using the router's DHCP server) and are struggling with a D-Link 504T or the newer D-Link 524T ADSL router (or, in fact most other types of router), you might find the following useful. There are also help pages available for NO-NAT connections on D-Link's site at http://www.dlink.co.uk.

  1. In Windows, go to Start | Settings | Network Connections and open the Properties dialog for your Ethernet card. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the list and click Properties. Select Obtain an IP address automatically, click OK, then OK again.

  2. Connect the Ethernet card to the router. If you use a laptop, remember to turn off the wireless connection or you'll get weird connection problems (guess how I discovered that!). Then point your browser at http://192.168.1.1 and log into the router using admin as the user name and the password.

  3. Upgrade the firmware for the 524T model only:

  4. Switch off the router-based DHCP server:

  5. Set the router/gateway address for your network:

  6. Now panic when the next page fails to load because your computer has an invalid IP address compared to the router. Go to Start | Settings | Network Connections and open the Properties dialog for your Ethernet card again. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in the list and click Properties. Select Use the following IP address, enter an IP address that is within your allocation (but not the default Management IP address you used earlier) and your ADSL subnet mask, click OK, then OK again.

  7. Point your browser at the default Management IP address and log into the router again using admin as the user name and the password.

  8. Turn off the Network Address Translation and Firewall services:

  9. Change the management login details:

  10. Select the correct DSL Mode:

  11. Set the ADSL parameters:

  12. Other settings for the 524T model only:

  13. Commit the configuration to the router's non-volatile memory:

  14. Install and test the router:

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