Actiontec Wireless Ready Home Gateway

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Actiontec Wireless Ready Home Gateway - Page 2

The Actiontec Wireless Ready Home Gateway
SOHO Connectivity - Copper Need Not Apply

By, Dave Altavilla
November 5, 2001

 
Installation of an internet connection sharing network can sometimes be a daunting task for the novice user.  However, these days ease of configurability is a strong selling point for the technology being utilized in the wireless space.  You need not even open the chassis of a single computer and users still can be up on the network in minutes.  With that said, we did have one pitfall.
 
Installation & Setup Of The Actiontec Wireless Gateway
Fairly straight forward with one hurdle to overcome

A picture is worth a thousand words, so we'll spare you the novel here.  This is the network topology that you can expect with this setup.

It is a fairly simple configuration really.  The Gateway sits between the broadband modem and various systems on the network.

 

The internal router of the Gateway unit then assigns IPs to each system on the network through NAT (network address translation) protocol.  As a result the broadband connection only sees one MAC address and IP for the entire network.  The unit also has a built in simple firewall and this certainly helps with security.  In addition, the Gateway, as well as the various Actiontec NICs we tested, all support up to 128bit WEP (wired equivalent privacy) encryption.  So it is safe to say hackers won't have much fun with you.

HotHardware Test System
Power on demand

 
Test Machine #1

  • Intel Pentium 4 2GHz. Processor

  • 256MB of Samsung PC800 RAMBUS DRDRAM

  • nVidia GeForce3 AGP

  • IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

  • Windows 2000 Pro SP2

  • Actiontec Wireless Gateway

  • Intel 10/100 PCI NIC Card

Test Machine #2

  • Intel Pentium III 1GHz.

  • 256MB of PC133 SDRAM

  • nVidia GeForce3 AGP

  • IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

  • Windows 2000 Pro SP2

  • 3Com 10/100 PCI NIC

  • Actiontec Wireless USB 11Mbps NIC

So, with our hardware configured, we set out to get up and running.  The internal network was live in literally 5 minutes.  It was as easy as plugging in the USB NIC on the client and a CAT5 cable from the Intel NIC on the main machine, to a port in the Gateway's Hub.  We only then had to load drivers for the USB NIC on the client machine.  Here are a few shots of the drivers for the Wireless USB NIC.

Wireless USB NIC Drivers
 

   

Our client machine was on the second floor and the host machine was one level down.  Even through walls and about 50-65 feet away, the link connection was strong.

As we noted earlier, the Gateway's software is resident in the unit it self.  You just type in the address 192.168.0.1, in your web browser, and you are then presented with various setup menus.

Gateway Setup

We chose to take snapshots of the "advanced setup" screens, just so you can see how configurable everything is.  The "basic setup" routine is a piece of cake.  Again, this is without even opening a CD jewel case for drivers.  That in and of itself was certainly impressive to us.  However, we have to admit there was a small hitch.  The manual and installation screens were a little vague with respect to what type of information your ISP will need in order to get your new Gateway up on their network.  We somehow skipped a critical step in the setup process and couldn't get the broadband connection setup on the Gateway. 

We contacted Actiontec's Tech Support and frankly, they were a little inexperienced with their new product and troubleshooting it.  We jumped through hoops for about an hour or so, including flashing older firmware to the unit,  and finally the Tech we dealt with gave up.  We still weren't on the net and it was getting rather frustrating.  In a last ditch effort we called our ISP one more time to see if we missed something they needed on their end.  The AT&T Tech we dealt asked us if we had "provisioned the Gateway's MAC address in their database" yet.  Light dawned on marble head.  As soon as we gave the AT&T tech the Gateway's MAC address, he loaded into their database and we were instantly connected with Cable Data. 

Now, if you ask us, this should have been one of the very first questions the Actiontec Tech should have asked us, "does your ISP require you to provision a MAC address for any device on their network"?  This one question would have saved a boat load of heartburn.  We don't want to lay it on to heavy for the Tech's at Actiontec however.  We were able to get in touch with a live person 24/7 and they were very eager to help.  Obviously, they weren't up to speed with their new product just yet however.

So then, the network is up and the broadband connection is live.  Let's look at some basic performance figures.
 


Testing and The Rating

 

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