Orcon Homehub/ADSL2 Setup – A Quick Review

After going unbundled with Orcon’s Gold+ Account I was having issues getting online and was recommended an Orcon HomeHub over D-Link DST-502T. The 502T was theoretically more than capable of doing ADSL2+ (as I was running it at home on the same plan already). But at $5 a month, and to solve a problem I thought, stuff it, and got one sent out.

Siemens SX753

The HomeHub is really just a Siemens SX-763 WLAN DSL Router. Its running a slightly modified firmware that has the Orcon settings preset. You can’t flash newer vesions of Firmware, although Orcon can from their side of things. This could lead to an interesting future for this little hub – more on that later.
The Homehub features (according to Orcon) –

“This sleek wireless router lets you access your Broadband from anywhere in your house without plugs or cables.
What’s more, because our network can talk to it, our helpdesk can easily support the device remotely to get you back online faster if there is ever a problem.
In the future, we’ll be teaching the Homehub some cool new tricks to give you an even better Orcon experience through new and interesting services, so stay tuned…”

On the Siemens site it lists it features as –

  • High-speed wireless data transfer at up to 108 Mbps (compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g)
  • Integrated ADSL 2+ modem
  • 4 Port 10/100 Hub
  • External broadband access modem support (e. g. VDSL, cable)
  • Support for up to 6 VoIP public telephone accounts (SIP Protocol)
  • USB Support (SMB/FTP/Web/Printer).

So after ordering it, the unit arrived a couple of days later, interestingly I had to pay postage, with a white Orcon slip over a standard Siemens box. In the box were all the cables one could ever need to setup and use the unit. Network cable, phone, filters etc… Annoyingly Siemens have gone with RJ-45 (Network) Adaptor plug for the phone cable, not the smaller and standard phone plug – so don’t go loosing your cables.
The Unit is one of the nicer Routers or modems I’ve seen, although it does feel a but light and plasticy. All the ports are nicely placed on the back. It can be mounted on a wall or look fine on a desk.

Homehub Back Ports

The web inerface is pleasent to look at, and functionally seems to include all the settings. There’s wizards both for the absolutely basics and also for the security features. Add to that the normal Advanced Settings, It’s feature packed but simple to get around. There’s support for all the necessary wireless standards – WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK/WPA-PSK.
I’d love to go into the VOIP settings but as I have never been too interested in it before, I wouldn’t know much. The fact they’re there, and are quite feature complete shows a feature I imagine Orcon will use in the future.

Connection wise, the wireless seems solid, although I personally use an Apple Airport Extreme to run a parallel 5ghz Only 11N based network and a 2.4Ghz for older clients. Excessive. Maybe. A bonus of using the $5 a month homehub though.
Internet wise, in the Auckland CBD, just off K Rd I’ve got a 12286 kbps (upstream) ADSL Connection. Its strange as when the connection was first setup I was getting up to 22500kbps on the connection – close to ADSL2’s limit – and now its back down to the top of ADSL1’s top……. Orcon?
UPDATE As you’ll see in the first comment, theres a bug and it’s being worked on – although 2 weeks later and I’m still stuck at the same connection rate – and just enjoyed a shit 11k/s uploade to my webserver in the states. AWESOME! (NOT).
UPDATE 2 Well 2 weeks later (8 Aug) and we’re finally back at full speed ADSL2 again – the modem is reporting 21412 kbps (downstream) / 1328 kbps (upstream) – near theoretical limits. I’ll post an updated speed test blog soon.

Heres some results from speedtest.net

Auckland -> Auckland (WorldxChange Communications) – 9907 Down / 354 Up

Auckland -> Christchurch (Snap Internet) – 6587 Down / 266 Up

Auckland -> Sydney (Mammoth Media) – 3327 Down / 333 Up

Auckland -> London (Namesco) – 1723 Down / 180 Up

Auckland -> San Francisco (Unwired) – 2739 Down / 194 Up

Things that aren’t cool –
USB only does FTP no SFTP so not great for putting online.

Only 54g Wireless, although future proof in other features, if this was offered with 11n wireless it would be a must have for Orcon users.

The DHCP server won’t list connected devices – Wireless status lists the Host name, Mac and IP’s of any wireless clients but for the overall IP’s – nothing. The settings are there – just broken, a bug that I hope Orcon will get on to fixing.
UPDATE Orcon do indeed have a forthcoming update. Orcon were nice enough to flash mine and it does indeed fix the issue and give you a bunch more information as to the ADSL2 connection quality.

Basic NAT Support – Doesn’t do true UPnP/NAT-PMP. So, in my case, no Back to My Mac support between home and work. Just lots of manual and possibly insecure setup.

Things that are cool –
USB Features.
Looks good.
A full featured router for only $5 a month (on Orcon).
Assumably VOIP support from Orcon in the future.

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