Introduction

I’ve been plagued by unreliable internet.  My exact symptoms were that my connection would drop, seemingly in the same time frames each day, but also often at random.  I’d have to power cycle my modem and router to get the connection back.  Really, the problem was confusing, the same time frames each day pointed at the ISP, the random outings pointed at the modem or router, and the True tech and I are on a first name basis and even know each others family.  We’ve both tried to fix these issues for several years, him tweaking the node downstairs in our building (the building is large and requires its own node equipment), and both of us trying different modems and network settings. 

During the course of these problems I’ve replaced my modems many times, 4-5 times out of warranty and on my own coin, and many more times under warranty.  There was a pattern where things would work fairly well (only requiring a power cycle every 3-4 days and the normal time frame outages), and then as the modem aged these frequencies would increase until it bothered me enough to go buy another modem.  Because replacing the modem fixed things, I took the time frame outages as the problem of the ISP.. the ISP of course claimed they had no such outages, but this being Thailand you make your mental allowances for such claims.

 

The Billion Sky modems are probably familiar to all of you. True On-line claims these are the best, and when they work they probably do work the best.  However, they sure don’t work well for long.  Now is probably a good time to mention there is a big cultural difference between Thai’s and Westerners when it comes to electrical devices.  They tend to plug them in and power them up only when needed.   Westerners leave our appliances mostly plugged in, and in the case of networking equipment and cable boxes we leave them operating 24/7.  Add a warm non-air-conditioned room, the fact that heat is the second leading cause of electronic failure (power surges are number one), and ultra-cheap componentry common in ISP device offerings and you can start to see why these fail so often.

 

The Billion Sky modems are probably familiar to all of you. True On-line claims these are the best, and when they work they probably do work the best.  However, they sure don’t work well for long.  Now is probably a good time to mention there is a big cultural difference between Thai’s and Westerners when it comes to electrical devices.  They tend to plug them in and power them up only when needed.   Westerners leave our appliances mostly plugged in, and in the case of networking equipment and cable boxes we leave them operating 24/7.  Add a warm non-air-conditioned room, the fact that heat is the second leading cause of electronic failure (power surges are number one), and ultra-cheap componentry common in ISP device offerings and you can start to see why these fail so often.

 

And exception was a very early Humack router which looks a lot like the one above save for the name.  I suspect this Chinese company stamped a lot of names on these cheap devices.  For some reason this modem has never failed, but it is limited to a 500kbps upload speed and my service provides 1mbps upload, so I used it as an emergency backup.

 

And exception was a very early Humack router which looks a lot like the one above save for the name.  I suspect this Chinese company stamped a lot of names on these cheap devices.  For some reason this modem has never failed, but it is limited to a 500kbps upload speed and my service provides 1mbps upload, so I used it as an emergency backup.  

Finally I got the bug to move away from the True sourced modems, and you would be right in thinking I must have been pretty thick to take so long to do so.  On the advice of my True technician and my local salespeople, and based on my needs, I selected the Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Router/Modem combination.  There is a companion model with build in wireless G, but I already have a high quality Linksys WRT-350n wireless router and Cisco 8 port gigaswitch, so my only need was the modem half of the DLink DSL-2542b. 

 

Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 Modem/Router

 

This small very light router was 1800 baht at Pantip Ladphrao.  Bet you didn’t know there is more than one Pantip?

 

This small very light router was 1800 baht at Pantip Ladphrao.  Bet you didn’t know there is more than one Pantip?

 

It came packed with the modem, setup disk, short patch cable, a telephone cable, and power supply.

 

It came packed with the modem, setup disk, short patch cable, a telephone cable, and power supply. 

Getting it home I decided to set it up myself. 

 

Installation

 

The back panel is easy to understand.  A place to plug it into your phone line, four RJ45 ports to go to your computer, router, printer, NAS, or whatever LAN devices you may have, and a power connector.  Connecting the wires is pretty straightforward

 

The back panel is easy to understand.  A place to plug it into your phone line, four RJ45 ports to go to your computer, router, printer, NAS, or whatever LAN devices you may have, and a power connector.  Connecting the wires is pretty straightforward.

 

The front panel lights are also no mystery as long as you get close enough to read the print above each light.  A  green power-on LED, a ‘connected’ LED for each port you have connected, a green LED to let you know ADSL is active, and a green LED to let you know an IP address has been obtained and you’re connected

 

The front panel lights are also no mystery as long as you get close enough to read the print above each light.  A  green power-on LED, a ‘connected’ LED for each port you have connected, a green LED to let you know ADSL is active, and a green LED to let you know an IP address has been obtained and you’re connected. 

 

Setup 

How you use this modem, as a modem only in conjunction with a separate switch, router, or wireless.. or in its full modem/router configuration, will determine how you set this up

 

Like any router/modem you access it from your PC by entering 192.168.1.1 into your browser URL window.  You’ll get a login screen like the one above.  Default user/password is admin/admin.  You’ll want to change that

 

Like any router/modem you access it from your PC by entering 192.168.1.1 into your browser URL window.  You’ll get a login screen like the one above.  Default user/password is admin/admin.  You’ll want to change that.

 

Modem/Router Mode

Probably the easiest way for this, is to insert the included disc and let it automatically set you up.  My True technician tells me the automatic setup works very well and is in fact what they use when using both DSL-2542b as both a modem and router.

 

If you do it manually you’ll want to select the PPPoE mode, enable DCHP, and fill in your user/password information provided by your ISP.  You’ll also need to know what VCI and VPI values your ISP uses, the chances are they will not be the default values.  And the modem will not work until these settings are exactly correct.  Technicians know these values, but the phone receptionists will have no idea.  It’s a bottleneck you’ll need to work through

 

If you do it manually you’ll want to select the PPPoE mode, enable DCHP, and fill in your user/password information provided by your ISP.  You’ll also need to know what VCI and VPI values your ISP uses, the chances are they will not be the default values.  And the modem will not work until these settings are exactly correct.  Technicians know these values, but the phone receptionists will have no idea.  It’s a bottleneck you’ll need to work through.

 

There are also settings for Port Forwarding, security, and more depending on your needs.  Use the manual for these, if you have the need you’ll already know which settings to use

 

There are also settings for Port Forwarding, security, and more depending on your needs.  Use the manual for these, if you have the need you’ll already know which settings to use. 

 

Modem Only Mode

 

If you’ll be connecting an existing router, or wireless router, to the DSL-2542b, you’ll want to use it in Bridge Mode.  Bridge mode DOES NOT require DCPH (disable it), or the PPPoE user/password combination.  Your router will handle that.  Bridge mode also does not require you set any IP addresses or anything like that.  Just leave them alone.  Dlink’s setup menu system is a bit hokey, to see the menu’s you need to go through a sort of question and answer screen and then the router sets things up the way IT think it should be.  You just can’t flip through the settings menu’s as you can on other devices, so only set what you need.  You’ll need to set it to bridge/lcc, set the VCI and VPI, and make sure you disable the DCPH.  That’s it.  If you try more you’ll be led off into never never land

 

If you’ll be connecting an existing router, or wireless router, to the DSL-2542b, you’ll want to use it in Bridge Mode.  Bridge mode DOES NOT require DCPH (disable it), or the PPPoE user/password combination.  Your router will handle that.  Bridge mode also does not require you set any IP addresses or anything like that.  Just leave them alone.  Dlink’s setup menu system is a bit hokey, to see the menu’s you need to go through a sort of question and answer screen and then the router sets things up the way IT think it should be.  You just can’t flip through the settings menu’s as you can on other devices, so only set what you need.  You’ll need to set it to bridge/lcc, set the VCI and VPI, and make sure you disable the DCPH.  That’s it.  If you try more you’ll be led off into never never land.

 

Once you select bridge it will ask you for the VCI and VPI values.  The setup program is fairly intelligent in that it only asks for what it needs to operate properly in that mode.  If it doesn’t ask, don’t worry about it.  Keeping it simple really works with the DSL-2542b

 

Once you select bridge it will ask you for the VCI and VPI values.  The setup program is fairly intelligent in that it only asks for what it needs to operate properly in that mode.  If it doesn’t ask, don’t worry about it.  Keeping it simple really works with the DSL-2542b.

 

Performance

Once properly set up the Dlink DSL-2542b ADSL+2 modem/router works very well.  No more random drops, very few time frame drops, and it scoots right along for about 24 hours.  Then it drops and doesn’t connect, or connects again but never works as it should. 

I exchanged it twice, it still does this.  Every day I need to power cycle the Dlink DSL-2542b to keep it operating properly.  I find this far preferable to the True provided Billion Sky modems, but far from ideal. 

It could be an incompatibility with my other networking equipment, but I asked Dlink support and they couldn’t tell me.  Unfortunately it just works this way and I’ve learned to once a day wander into the office and power cycle the switches.  Inconvenient, but the reward is a great working connection for another 24 hours.  And it’s not a certain time, or certain number of hours, it could go bad any time, and work from 24-36 hours.. but if I power cycle every 24 hours it never drops a connection.  Strange.  Forget, and the connection drops to remind you. 

 

Summary

It’s been worth my time and 1800 baht to learn the actual connection from True works fine.  It’s not a squirrel playing ping-pong on the wire outside, it’s not the rats chewing the wires inside the building, and it’s not the next door neighbors microwave scrambling my signal, all excuses previously provided by True technicians 

It’s the quality and workings of the modem.  From reading I’ve learned the more you put through your connection in the way of IP addresses the more difficult it is for the router to keep running clear.  I download 10-15 torrents daily, run my website, email, browse the web, and more.. so I put quite a load on my modem.  You might not have an issue. 

Also from my reading, people with heavy loads benefit greatly from a professional series modem.  There are only a few worth considering, a $300 Cisco wireless router/modem, and a $80 TP-Link wireless router/modem.  I’ve ordered the $80 one and will receive it early next week and start immediate testing.  If it works out great, if not I’ll try the Cisco. 

I’ll continue trying new modems until I find one which doesn’t require power cycling, doesn’t drop, and 100% meets my needs.  My guess is this Dlink 2542b ADSL+2 modem/router is a fine unit for most casual users, it’s cheap at 1800 baht, and it’s available and serviced locally.  If your needs require more, like heavy torrent use, running lots of data, or really high speeds, perhaps you’ll need a professional series modem/router. 

For me, it’s not about the 800 baht Billion Sky price, or the 1800 baht Dlink 2542b price, or the $80 USD TP-link price.  I’m willing to pay any reasonable amount for a connection that works as it should, and I’m very pleased to now know my problem is most likely my modem and not all the other things previously blamed.  I’ll let you know how the TP-Link works soon.