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Tips (DSL)

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This is an unordered informal collection of tips and how-to snippets relating to DSL, with emphasis on informatino specific to NCF that might not be elsewhere on the internet, or of special interest to NCF mebmers. If you have something that would be good to add, please mention it to an NCF office person.

Similar sources of information are the NCF DSL discussion group and the NCF Help Desk discussion group.

Using a ST516 with router: De-activate your router's idle timer

If you have a ST516 DSL modem connected to a router, it's best if the router's idle timeout feature (if it has one) be disabled. Otherwise your DSL connection may go up and down every five minutes.

To see if you have the problem, log into the NCF StartPage and then click on the link "Your recent DSL use" ([1]). Scroll down to 'Connection details'. If there are many session of short duration (eg., 5 minutes), you've probably got a router with an idle timer running. Read below how to fix it.

There is a router setting usually called something like "Maximum Idle Time" which will cause the internet DSL connection to be dropped after a period of no internet use. As long as you are using the internet, this setting does nothing, but when you stop using the internet, after the period specified by this setting, your router will tell your DSL modem to disconnect and reconnect. This usually is pointless but OK, but often causes grief for members. It's best to stop it. Change the number to something larger than 3 days (eg., set it to 5000), or, on some routers, you can disable it altogether (try entering 0).

So if you are getting regular DSL cuts, check that your router idle time is set to
a large number of minutes (eg., 5000). Some routers may have an "always connected"
setting which would override all of the foregoing and leave your DSL connection in
permanent connect mode - perfect!

You can check that it worked by waiting a day for the DSL use page to be updated (it is updated nightly).

2010-Feb-23 (thanks, Bob)

'SpeedTouch' modem name change: Now 'Thomson Gateway'

The SpeedTouch brand of DSL modems was developed by Alcatel, who sold that product line to Thomson. Thomson carried on with the SpeedTouch name until 2009, when they started naming newer models "Thomson Gateway". The model numbers reflect that, for example, the ST585 became the TG585.

Technically, Thomson/SpeedTouch DSL modems are DSL gateways (because they include a DEL modem and a router, in one box), but most people seem more comfortable using the term 'modem' so NCF calls them that too. If 'gateway' gains traction, maybe NCF will switch back to calling them 'gateway'. Meanwhile, NCF calls them 'DSL modems'.

DSL modem firmware upgrades

Thomson, manufacturer of the Thomson Gateway and SpeedTouch line of modems, says they are committed to maintaining the value of their older modems by providing firmware upgrades to fix problems that are found after release to market. That's great!

Thomson is a wholesaler and does not deal directly with the public, but they provide information to their distributors (which to NCF has access) so that they can provide updates.

Here's how things stand as of Feb 2010: NCF office people aren't aware of any must-do upgrades for any of the modems sold by NCF. Being up to date is a good thing, but it comes with risks (finger problems, modem problems, etc), and there is some wisdom in if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Therefore NCF hasn't been recommending upgrades.

However, if you are comfortable doing updates at your own risk (explained below), NCF can provide the latest firmware; enquire by sending a message via the Office Message system at the Help page).

As of Feb 2010:

ST516 (all NCF-sold hardware versions):  No update available
ST585 / TG585 (all NCF-sold hardware versions):  8.2.6
Release notes for 8.2.6

'At your own risk' means that if your modem fails or becomes inoperative due to a failed update that you perform, unfortunately you might have to find a new modem. That said, NCF office people are not aware of anyone having had problems.

The situation hasn't yet arisen, but perhaps for a donation or fee (policy to be determined), NCF office people might be able to help restore a modem if something went wrong.