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After eliminating the provided FibreOP Actiontec router from my network I thought I would document all I have learned about how the FibreOP infrastructure actually works, so here it is.

Your first question might be why did I eliminate the Actiontec router? Well... I found that when watching multiple HD channels and downloading many high traffic torrents the TV quality would suffer. While the Actiontec router doesn't really have good enough tools to determine the cause I suspect that it just could not handle the sheer number of packets per second. This is because *all* traffic between Bell Aliant and your local network (Internet / IPTV) has to go through the embedded processor within the router. This is a 680MHz ARM processor which can certainly handle sustained traffic, but not lots of tiny packets at the same time. Lots of tiny packets kills lots of equipment out there. I have replaced the router with a dual core Atom server, and even that machine is usually hovering around 13% with my traffic patterns.

When you order any FibreOP service you are assigned a specific router and an ONT. The MAC address of this router is added to your account. You are given access to a management VLAN (a virtual network segment over the ethernet from the ONT). This VLAN is number 33. Bell Aliant can use this to remotely manage your router. As for the ONT it is configured (usually at installation) with a specific timeslot for the fiber you are connected to. With the architecture Bell Aliant has deployed there are actually multiple people on the fiber you are connected to. You get a copy of all their data incoming but since it is encrypted you can only really see yours. As for outgoing data since you can't send light from multiple sources at the same time you have to be synchronized and only send when it is your turn (thus the timeslot value).

When you order FibreOP internet service DHCP access is added to your account and you are given access to the internet VLAN. This VLAN is number 35. The DHCP access is based on the MAC address of your router. If you hook up a different router on this VLAN with DHCP it will not get an IP address unless it is using the same MAC address as your provided router. You can not have a client identifier set in the DHCP client or you will get no DHCP lease.

Additionally if you hook up another router and it's not on any VLAN (well, it's on the default VLAN of 1) you will not be able to get a DHCP lease either and you will not be able to get to anything.

The router does NAT between this VLAN and your local network.

When you order FibreOP TV service you are given access to the IPTV VLAN. Unlike internet service where the router gets an IP address and then NATs this VLAN is actually 'bridged' to your local network. This means that any packets that your router gets and doesn't handle gets forwarded to this IPTV VLAN at Bell Aliant. One thing I learned is that packets going to this VLAN MUST contain a priority of 4 (for video). If you don't have this priority set then the packets are ignored. I suspect Bell Aliant is doing this for filtering purposes.

Let's examine how this works in the real world. When you turn on an IPTV Receiver it sends out a request to get an IP address. The provided router IGNORES this request and instead the request gets forwarded to the IPTV VLAN of Bell Aliant. A server at Bell Aliant provides the receiver with an IP address and also with additional information (where to get firmware, what firmware to get, some other configuration details). This is why you see your IPTV receiver getting a 10.X.X.X address even though your local network might be different. As the receiver contacts various IPTV servers these packets get sent to the router, which forwards them on to the IPTV VLAN and vice versa. The router is essentially a dumb forwarder.

When you tune into a channel the receiver joins a multicast group which is broadcasting the channel. This gets forwarded up the chain so that if equipment in the chain is not yet receiving the channel it shortly will, and if it already is receiving the channel then nothing needs to be done except send it downward.

This is crucial for IPTV since it scales far, there aren't multiple copies of a channel being sent simultaneously in the core infrastructure like a normal UDP stream would be. Multicast is good.

As for bandwidth usage on channels HD channels seem to utilize about 7.45Mbps and SD channels 2.45Mbps.

I think this covers everything I have learned... but if there are any questions feel free to ask and I'll see if I can answer.
 

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Very interesting post.

Most people having problems with their router while using torrents can resolve the issue by changing the limit for the number of connections in their torrent software.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, that is of course an option but I prefer to have as much control over equipment in my network as possible, which was another reason for replacing the FibreOP router. I have to say, I like the way they have deployed this. Theoretically they could offer a business their own 'network' on the FibreOP infrastructure just by giving them their own VLAN. Quite cool.
 

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Does anyone have any experience replacing the Aliant-provided Actiontec router with a PFSense installation? I have been following the instructions in this thread as well as the following link to no avail (I still for the life of me cannot obtain a DHCP reservation. I'm pretty sure i'm doing it right!)

http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,34951.msg181022.html#msg181022

Maybe someone who has done this before could re-itterate the steps involved to do so. Just to confirm, I'd like to go directly from the ONT to the WAN port of PFSense and not through the Actiontec router itself.
 

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In reply to file's post

This is how I replaced their Actiontec router with a Linux router. Many thanks file for all the hints.

modprobe 8021q <- module for 802.1Q VLAN networking
ifconfig ethX hw ether 00:00:00:00:00:00 <- replace with the MAC address of the Actiontec WAN MAC
ifconfig ethX 192.168.255.2 netmask 255.255.255.240 up <- bring up the WAN card
vconfig add ethX 35 <- bring up the 35 VLAN on the WAN card
vconfig set_flag ethX.35 1 1 <- you seem to need this to get their DHCP server to talk to you.
dhcpcd -d -t 60 -R ethX.35 <- daaaaa, acquire an IP address.

I hope that helps a few or can be adapted to other OSs.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Instead of specifying a dummy address on the interface and potentially having traffic get to Bell Aliant you should be able to just do:

ifconfig ethX up
 

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Instead of specifying a dummy address on the interface and potentially having traffic get to Bell Aliant you should be able to just do:

ifconfig ethX up
Are you using Linux? What distro? I'm using Slackware and I can't seem to get that to work.

I picked an IP that is on a different subnet then my own. I can't see any reason for packets going to that IP or subnet unless I specifically send them there. Do you see differently?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm using Ubuntu Server, and no stuff should not go there - but I always err on the better to be safe than sorry side.
 

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file,

You still around?

I have a question on the TV side of things. This is for a friend, as I'm not using Aliant's IPTV.

From your first post in this thread, I gather your using your Ubuntu Server for the internet and your still using the Actiontec for the TV?

If the above is correct, are you using a managed switch (VLAN aware) from the ONT and feeding the other two units?

We also had thoughts of placing a third NIC in his server. Bring VLAN 34 into his Wan card and bridge it over to a VLAN 34 on the added NIC. The added NIC would feed the Actiontec. The savings here would be on buying a managed switch.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm not using the Actiontec *at all*. It's sitting on a shelf looking pretty.

My architecture looks like this:

ONT -> pfSense box -> Managed switch with VLANs

The pfSense box bridges the 34 VLAN to my own internal IPTV VLAN, and works fine.
 

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I'm not using the Actiontec *at all*. It's sitting on a shelf looking pretty.

My architecture looks like this:

ONT -> pfSense box -> Managed switch with VLANs

The pfSense box bridges the 34 VLAN to my own internal IPTV VLAN, and works fine.
Darn, another method!

So am I to assume, your using cat5 to all the IPTV boxes?

At my friends place they used coax feeds to all IPTV boxes and would require getting wrapped up in HPNA or a converter. We wanted to use the Actiontec to do the HPNA stuff.
 

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The Aliant tech converted a phone jack (using CAT5) from phone to an ethernet port.

Could i use this 1 ethernet port in the wall, with a switch/hub, to hook up multiple devices including the PVR? Would i have to do some config changes anywhere to get this to work, if it's even possible?

The ethernet port in the wall hooks directly into the Actiontec router.
 

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If you are using ethernet for all your connections, can you get rid of the Actiontec router or is it still needed for the HPNA?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You can not just take it out of the equation and have things work, it is by no means that easy.
 

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Hi,

Been trying to replace the Actiontec router with my WZR-HP-G300NH. It is currently running DD-WRT. I only have internet, no TV. I was wondering if anyone could provide me with set up set up the router to allow it to connect.

I tried using some the of scripts provided but no luck and my knowledge on the subject isn't the best.
 

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We did this at a friends place who has coax feeds to all the STBs but wanted to use his own Linux firewall/NAT.

First I'll explain the setup. He has three ethernet cards in this computer.

1) eth0 - The LAN card and faces his internal network.
2) eth1 - The WAN card. Connects to Bell Aliant's ONT.
3) eth2 - The TV interface and connects to the WAN port on the Actiontec router.

VLAN 34 and 35 both arrive on eth1. VLAN 35 is firewalled and NATed for his internet connection. VLAN 34 is bridged to eth2 so TV is feed to the Actiontec for distribution via coax to the STBs.

This is the script to do this;

Code:
#!/bin/sh

##################### internet connection ###################

modprobe 8021q
ifconfig eth1 up
vconfig add eth1 35
ifconfig eth1.35 hw ether 00:15:05:xx:xx:xx
vconfig set_flag eth1.35 1 1
/sbin/dhcpcd -R -Y -N -d -t 60 eth1.35

##################### TV connection #########################


ifconfig eth2 up

vconfig add eth1 34
vconfig add eth2 34

vconfig set_egress_map eth1.34 0 4
vconfig set_egress_map eth2.34 0 4

ifconfig eth1.34 up
ifconfig eth2.34 up

brctl addbr br34
brctl addif br34 eth1.34
brctl addif br34 eth2.34

ifconfig br34 up
 
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