Since upgrading my Qwest ADSL to a higher speed, I have noticed that my old Cisco 678 router was getting pretty outdated by today’s standards. Qwest primarily uses ActionTec modems which are pretty basic and a bit unreliable, depending on whether you believe the complaints on DSLReports.com. They recently upgraded the firmware on the 701 ActionTec modems and are now offering a more user-friendly 2Wire gateway modem, but I already have a couple of wireless routers at home and with Intel pushing a new wireless standard, it is just a matter of time before a wireless router will be outdated. The undeniable solution is to get a reliable standard ADSL modem and hook it up to whatever wireless router you want. In this case the least inexpensive reliable ADSL modem that I can find was Netopia’s 2240N-VGx ADSL2 modem.
Netopia makes a variety of 2200 series products. These are an inexpensive line of ADSL2 compliant routers that are meant for home consumers versus their higher end business series. The 2240N is the least expensive and is available online for about $67. The 2241N adds a USB connection, and the 2246N is a basic 4 port ethernet router. There is also the 2247NWG which includes wireless features.
Purchasing the 2240N or 2241N can be quite hard, since almost every online distributor has them out of stock. Even eBay doesn’t have much in the way of Netopia 2200 series products. I had to wait about about ten days for my 2240N to be delivered. In case you are interested in purchasing either one of these single ethernet port modems, your best bet is Froogle. Do a search for Netopia 2240N or 2241N on Froogle.com. The two major retailers are Buy.com and TechDepot.com.
The 2240N Out Of The Box
Once I opened the rather plain white box what I found inside was pretty sparse. There was the 2240N modem itself, a standard AC brick powersupply, a purple telephone cable, and a yellow ethernet cable. There is a one page sheet of instructions for setting up the “gateway”, and a setup CD that most advanced users will not need.
For setup purposes, I disconnected my Powerbook from the network. Hooked up the 2240N directly to the Powerbook. I had to change Networking to DHCP and let the Powerbook get a new IP address. Following the included instructions, I then simply used Safari to access the web based interface. The Basic Setup option failed to setup my Qwest DSL connection of course.
Two things were needed for the DSL line to work. The first one is easy, once you find the advanced options, you need to change the ATM connection to Qwest’s preferred settings. Look for VPI and VCI settings. VPI needs to equal 0, and VCI should be set to 32. In my case the last thing to do was to call my 3rd party ISP. It seems that my ISP requires that the DSL line be rebuilt or essentially, reset by them in order for new equipment to be recognized. Perhaps a simple MAC Address change would have fixed it on my end, but since my ISP reset it for me in less than two minutes, I was connected and running.
I then hooked up my Linksys Wireless router to the 2240N and hooked my Powerbook back to the Linksys, changed my Network settings in Mac OS X and I was back to normal.
Cisco 678 Versus Netopia 2240N
The 2240N is actually smaller than the Cisco 678. It has bigger LEDs and while the silver case looks cooler than the charcoal 678, the 2240N still manages to look plainer for some reason. Performance wise, the 2240N does train and reset faster than the 678. Download speed does not seem have changed. Browser tests on DSLReports show no improvement, but what does appear to be different is burst speed. While downloading a large image or flash laden web page, the browser seems to get more data at once, so perhaps multiple connections are scaling better. If there is to be a significant speed improvement it will have to be from Qwest, since the 2240N is ADSL2 compliant, it should be ready for Qwest if and when they bring ADSL2 to my area.
Most routers tend to lock up in general when maxing out connections and while I’ve had the 2240N for about a week now, it has only locked up on me once. There is an actual On/Off switch, so I can simply flip the switch and the router is back to normal.
Netopia’s Web Interface
It appears that all Netopia routers have the same operating system, and so they all share the same blue and white web interface. Although Netopia tries to hide the complexity of their advanced screens behind a simple home screen layout, most users will want to access the advanced options. Netopia features two firewalls, a simple ClearSailing firewall that is enabled by default, and a more tighter firewall that locks everything out from the outside. There is both a Services option that makes it easier for average home users to allow RDP and PCAnywhere type connections, and an advanced Pinholes option to select specific ports and ranges. These features would come in handy on the 2246N and 2247N routers, but for hooking up to another router like a Linksys or Netgear, these features are less used. Although you can have a double-NAT network, gamers will probably want to avoid some of the extra security of the Netopia router if they are using a second router.
Netopia features telnet as well, so if you rather telnet into the 2240N, you can.
One thing that you will notice about modern routers, even cosumer based ones is that they now have advanced features that are disabled by default. Netopia will upgrade your router with new features for an extra fee. In some cases, $35 gets you a business class firewall. For the 2240N this is a bit over the top, but for the 2246N or 2247N, the pay-for-features might be more intriguing. Qwest’s new 2Wire modem can be upgraded with a site blocker for a monthly fee, so extra premium features are now becoming the norm.
At barely $70 the Netopia 2240N-VGx is an excellent buy. If you have a wireless router or a nice GigaEthernet switch already for your local home network, this single port ADSL2 modem is a great solution. You get more features and solid reliability that beats the equivalent ActionTec modem. However if you want to explore a single router solution, then the 2247NWG compares well with the new Qwest 2Wire gateway router. The 2Wire model is more user friendly, but the Netopia product has a more powerful interface and telnet capabilities.