October 8, 2009

Bezeq NGN Upgrade: Survival Tips

Posted in technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 pm by degyes

This post follows the successful conclusion of our several-day saga sorting out our Internet connectivity issues with Bezeq. I’m providing these survival tips and lessons learned to spare others future pain if and when their time comes to upgrade to Bezeq NGN (Next Generation Network). This blog post is entirely technical, that is, no mystical musings or philosophical speculation.

Problem Solving & Analysis

Here are some lessons learned from our upgrade from “old” Bezeq ADSL (~750 kbps) to the “upgraded” Bezeq ADSL (+2.5 mbps), a.k.a. “Next Generation Network (NGN)”.

Scenario

  • We are Bezeq phone and ADSL subscribers.
  • Our ISP is Bezeq International.
  • We were (and still are) using our Bezeq-provided modem as a modem only, i.e. not as a router.
  • Our router was (and still is) a TRENDnet TEW-431BRP (a wireless AP router), which runs a crossover cable from its WAN port to the Bezeq modem, and contains LAN ports in which we insert Ethernet cables for our (home) desktop and (employer’s) laptop PCs.
  • Our computers are both running Windows XP.

This setup enables us to connect more than one PC to the Bezeq modem, and gives us the ability to connect the laptop via wireless, when we wish to.

Problem #1

Ever since the upgrade to the line took place a few weeks ago, we were experiencing increasingly frequent service disruptions, indicated by the ADSL stalling and resetting itself. This became intolerable last Thursday evening (1st October), and into Friday morning.

Action Taken

Contacted Bezeq on Sunday–following a very long wait to get an available service rep–and reported the problem. After explaining the problem, we were told that they synchronized the system via Bezeq’s monitoring & control panel and that service was restored.

Problem #2

Within 2 hours, the problem had returned, i.e. constant disruption to the ADSL Line.

Action Taken

Contacted Bezeq on Monday. This time, managed to get service rep within ~15 minutes (slight improvement). They said that there was either a problem in the modem, or in the line (which would seem to cover all bases); anyway, since no technician would be available until Wednesday, Bezeq would temporarily downgrade our ADSL service from the NGN speed to the pre-upgrade speed.

Result

ADSL service worked well for the next ~48 hours, albeit at the slower speed, which was fine with us since we weren’t benefiting from the NGN upgrade anyway.

Problem #3

Bezeq technician checks line at residence; confirms that signal strength is fine, but that existing modem is too old to support NGN; or possibly, that modem has become damaged.

Technician trades us a new ADSL2 modem (TNN – AZTECH 600E (L2)) for our old one (an ECI B-Focus Router 270PR).

Since this guy is a line technician with no knowledge of software, he leaves our residence at this point, telling us that the computers (desktop & laptop) will connect just fine once we run the Bezeq-provided modem installation CD. This was our first mistake! Installing the Bezeq dialup “חייגן” on our computers made it impossible to establish an Internet connection, even with the LAN and ADSL fully functioning, i.e. all indicator lights green both on the modem and in the PC system tray.

LESSON LEARNED #1: Don’t install the Bezeq-provided dialup software (חייגן). You can connect just fine without it, at least in Windows XP; see Procedure #1 below.

LESSON LEARNED #2: If you did install the Bezeq dialup software on your Windows XP computer, uninstall it via Start > Control Panel > Remove Programs.

Action Taken

Uninstalled the Bezeq dialup software

Result

Still no Internet service (even though, as previously, ADSL signal was working)

Action Taken

Called Bezeq tech support (at this point, having spent no less than 3 hours on time on Wednesday trying to solve the connectivity problem).  This technician, who actually seemed quite knowledgeable and competent, instructed us on the following 3 points (a), (b), and (c):

(a)    The NGN service upgrade, in order to enable you to connect to Internet services via Bezeq ADSL, requires that you create a broadband network connection, and append @014 to your user name in the parameters defining that connection. For instance, if under the old ADSL regime your user name was jsmith, now its jsmith@014. This is critical; it was a mistake that we didn’t include @014 in the first place!

(Note: It has been pointed out to me that the convention username@ISPcode, is not just for ADSL2 and NGN; rather it’s required by Bezeq’s Radius server in order for it to know how to handle your connection.)

(b)    To get the computer to recognize the new modem and establish compatibility with it, use the Procedure #1 below.

(c)    If you’re connecting the modem to a separate router, define the modified username (i.e. append @014) in the router’s firmware; see Procedure #2 below.

Procedure #1: Establish Internet Connectivity via ADSL Modem

  1. On your PC desktop, open Network Connections.
  2. Run the New Connection Wizard.
  3. In the wizard, choose Connect to Internet (first option). Next.
  4. Choose Set up manually (2nd option). Next.
  5. Choose Connect via Broadband (1st option). Next.
  6. Type a nickname for your ISP (so your PC will recognize the new ADSL connection method), e.g. BEZEQADSL.
  7. Type your user name, provided by Bezeq International, and append @014 to the end of the username, e.g. jsmith@014. Type and confirm the password, and click Next.

At this point, it would be wise to confirm that you can connect via ADSL and that you can access Web services.

Procedure #2: Establish Connectivity between ADSL Modem & Router

Connect one of your computers directly to the router and access the firmware. Do this by opening IE and typing the following URL: http://192.168.0.1 (i.e. the IP address of the TRENDnet router; the address of Bezeq-supplied routers is 10.0.0.138). In the firmware “wizards” and parameter definition pages, make sure of the following:

(a)    Your connection method is defined as PPPoE.

(b)   Your username is defined with @014 appended, as described above.

At this point, you can (re)connect the Bezeq modem to the router via the router’s WAN port, and then hook your computer up to the router via the LAN ports. Confirm that both computers can connect to Bezeq via ADSL and access Web services.

Tip: Getting a Human when Reporting Bezeq Internet Line Problems

When phoning 166, Bezeq’s customer support center, the key sequence for getting a service rep (Hebrew speaking) that handles Internet line problems, is 1-1-3-3. You may have to wait several seconds between key presses, but this sequence ought to work. It’s likely that you’ll have to wait for a service rep to actually respond; during our service disruption saga, waiting times ranged between nothing and 20 minutes.

Special thanks to Dani Deitch for technical review and comments.

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