Posts tagged unifi

Just got unifi-ed

When Telekom Malaysia (TM) announced their Fiber to the home broadband initiative, I was rather excited as broadband speeds in Malaysia have stagnated over the past couple of years. Initially when I jumped on to the DSL bandwagon in 2001 with a paltry (by today’s standard) speed of 384kbps down and 128kbps up. It was a big improvement over any 33.6 or even 56kbps modems of the day. Fast forward 10 years and internet speeds have doubled or tripled many times in neighboring countries and all we’re stuck with is 2mbps DSL. 4mbps is available but few areas could even qualify with the poor quality of cabling or exchange equipment. My home couldn’t even get past 1.8mbps due to the distance from the exchange.

It took TM about a year plus to reach my backwater housing area. The good thing is many others have sacrificed their effort and time to enable TM to iron out the kinks in the system and to improve the roll-out, delivery and implementation service. After all, there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of homes to install.

The good is that they no longer need eight guys to install like for my parents home, a year back. The bad is that they still are not coordinated with their contact center and appointment scheduling system. It still takes an entire day but most of it will be spent waiting and waiting or cleaning up. If you’re lucky, everything goes well after install otherwise, you’ll end up waiting for new modems, BTUs, and more technicians.

For me, the install was a breeze. Minus the five hours waiting for the installers to show up. When the appointment time said 9:30am to 2:30pm, I assumed the install will complete within that window rather than start at 2:45pm! Anyway, my install was through the ceiling so all was needed was a hole drilled through the outside wall to get into the ceiling, pull the fiber and drop it into my central cable drop. My home, fortunately for the TM installers, had a central cable drop where all ethernet, phone, cable TV, etc are laid down so drilling through the wall took the longest time. The Brits build houses to last in the 60s.

Fortunately for the installers, I also provided the ceiling light and ladder otherwise they would have come to grief with such a miserable ladder of theirs. Also to their benefit, my entire house is wired with CAT5e (long story why it’s not CAT6) so again, the rest of the setup was a breeze. Plug the Fiber BTU here, LAN to WAN port, IP TV out to Port 2 (next to my TV), Phone out to Phone Distribution panel and viola, IP TV works, we got internet and the rooms have phone lines! Hallelujah!

Since I had a Cisco VPN Router & SPI firewall going, I wanted to junk the crappy DLINK DIR615 that came with the package. The router has caused grief to many users due to it running custom firmware, lack of security (all wide open settings), poor wireless and network performance, and more. The problem with using your own router is that the incoming network has three VLANs and if you didn’t care about the IP-TV, you can go ahead. I paid for all services so I damn well want the access.

Solution was simply replace the DIR615 with a VLAN bridge. I used a MikroTik RB250 for this purpose. If anyone wants a pre-configured RB250, drop me an email. I have the RouterBoard Rb750GS as well but for the moment, I wanted to continue using my Cisco router.

Here’s the TM Fiber Broadband Termination unit (BTU)

The crappy D-Link DIR615 which was quickly replaced…

My Cisco VPN and IPS/IDS Firewall

The Huawei IP TV Set-top box (STB). Still a bit laggy when watching internet streaming content

The awesome MikroTik RB250 VLAN Bridge.

I really need to fix my cabling mess! For now, Yellow is WAN link, white is Internal network, Blue is POE, green is for Voice and now Red for IPTV.

 So how does it perform? The good is that it works pretty much as it is advertised. No complaints until the service starts going down or becomes unreliable but overall, my satisfaction is high. Minus the setup, installation part of course. Your mileage may vary and depending on your home and where you want certain components, i.e. IPTV, Wireless, phone, etc, the process might cost you a fair bit and be more trouble than in my case.

Unifi, decent Broadband at last?

As one of the first TM Streamyx customers way back in 2001, ten years is a long time to wait for decent broadband. Streamyx was good when it launched but like anything in Malaysia, it just stagnates. Anyways, my parent’s house is among the first few areas for Unifi, unlike where I stay now which is low on TM’s priority list just because the exchange we use is pretty run down.

The speed is great but the installation purely sucks. Don’t get me wrong, the guys did a decent job and were quite clean but I think the first thing Telekom Malaysia should have done is not to assume each household has a single PC. Secondly, the installers should not assume the cable drop is next to the phone table and next to the TV set. So here goes the installer bitching about my complicated setup… see below and trying to charge my mom RM12 per meter run of CAT5 cable. Good thing I have a box (a thousand feet) handy. CAT5 cable run in my parent’s home, measured from the switch is about 85 feet (26m) to the TV area, 75 feet (23m) to the guest room, 65 feet (20m) to Rooms 1 and 2.

Original ADSL setup

Since I wasn’t around when the completed the installation, they managed to hoodwink my parents into believing that all the PCs are already connected. As my parents didn’t know how to run any network testing, all they did was try to load some websites. They even forgot to testing printing. My mom tested printing from her PC (in the guest room) though so she thought everything worked. Yes, it works but half the house is still on Streamyx!! See below diagram.

Initial Unifi Fiber Setup

I dropped at 4:30pm and first thing I did was to do a cable trace. Not liking what I found, I turned off the ADSL connection and immediately two PCs lost internet connectivity. It’s obvious why. These are the things I immediately configured or changed:

  1. Change the Router’s Administrator password (defaulted to blank!)
  2. Turned off the Wireless on TM’s DIR-615. (If you intend to use it, rename the Wireless Network Name/SSID)
    * The default SSID uses the customer’s name, i.e.: subscribername@unifi.
  3. Disable Remote Access to the router
  4. Enable Firewall, including blocking scan, DOS attacks, service filters, the whole enchilada….
  5. Adjusted the DHCP port range so it didn’t conflict with my other devices that were statically assigned

Here’s how the network finally looks like:

How it looks like in the end

It looks like I’ve to be around and end up doing a fair bit of work if (when TM decides to upgrade the Sungei Way exchange) I subscribe to Unifi and their installers come to my home. It’s way more complicated that my parents!

By the way, I didn’t play around much with the phone service or the IPTV service. It’s not that attractive to me at the moment but hopefully it’ll change in the future. I’m hoping for pure SIP services from TM in terms of the voice side…