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Linksys ADSL2MUE Ethernet ADSL modem Review

Sections

Introduction
What you get for your money
Configuration
Configuring the ADSL2MUE for bridged mode
Configuring Windows XP to use an ADSL2MUE in modem/bridged mode
Configuring RFC2364 PPPoA NAT router mode
Performance
Conclusion

Introduction

The Linksys ADSL2MUE is an ADSL modem that is also compatible with ADSL2 and ADSL2+ and will support ADSL2+ with speeds of up to 25Mbps according to its packaging.

ADSL modems with an Ethernet interface in the UK are relatively rare, and the ADSL2MUE is rarer still in that it offers a bridge mode allowing any device that can initiate a PPPoE connection to carry out the authentication for the ADSL service. This makes the ASDL2MUE an the ideal upgrade for people with a single computer who are finding a USB ADSL modem unreliable, and perhaps are looking to add a router at a later date to share the connection over an Ethernet or wireless network.

UK ADSL connections are normally described as PPPoA based, but BT Wholesale does allow a single PPPoE session to be created, thus allowing hardware like the ADSL2MUE to work. There may be some service providers the hardware will not work with in the UK, but at this time we are not aware of any. If we do hear of some, a note will be added to our Questions & Answers section of http://www.thinkbroadband.com/

What you get for your money

The modem comes in a nice retail package, which follows the Linksys tradition of showing which of their product range the product is compatible with and highlighting the salient features of the unit. The contents of the box are laid out below:

The modem itself will stack neatly with Linksys routers of a similar design, e.g. the Linksys WRT54G, or BEFSR41. The power supply is a nice surprise in that it is smaller than average, and should just about fit side by side to a normal plug in a power strip. Leads are supplied to get you up and running with the modem. The CD supplied holds a copy of the manual, and all the configuration is carried out via a web configuration system built into the modem.

The front of the unit has five indicator lights, most are self explanatory, i.e. showing when power is connected, how the computer is connected, whether a DSL signal is visible and the Internet light will show whether you finally have an authenticated connection.

The rear of the router is nice and simple, the colour coding around the sockets should match that used on other kit, to try and make life simpler. If using the bridge mode, only one of the USB and Ethernet connections may be used at any one time. A simple router mode is available, allowing you to connect multiple computers at the same time, which allows you to use both the USB socket and Ethernet sockets together. The drivers for the USB connection are on the supplied CD.

Configuration

The vast majority of people buying the ADSL2MUE will want to use its bridged mode, for uplinking to a router for example, but the unit has a range of configuration options.

  • RFC 2364 PPPoA is the classical UK way of connecting, and in this mode the ADSL2MUE will operate as a very simple NAT router, providing your computer(s) with an IP address in the 192.168.1.x range.
  • RFC 2516 PPPoE, is an alternate mode that you can use to connect, if your service provider supports PPPoE. The modem will run again as a simple NAT router. If you are in the UK this mode has little use, since PPPoA is the preferred mode.
  • RFC1483 Bridged, no real use in the UK
  • Bridged Mode Only, this is the pure modem mode for the ADSL2MUE. When in this mode the actual ISP assigned IP address is given to the computer/router that initiates a PPPoE connection with the modem.

We will show in this review mainly how to set up the bridged mode, and how to configure a Windows XP PC to use the bridged mode. In our review of the ZyXEL P-334WT we have shown how to set-up the PPPoE authentication for a router.

Configuring the ADSL2MUE for bridged mode

We are assuming you are connecting to the ADSL2MUE via an Ethernet connection. The same detail should apply to using the USB socket, but follow the instructions for installing the drivers from the modems CD first.

Your computers network card, should be configured to get its IP settings automatically (via DHCP), and it will get given an IP address in the range 192.168.1.2 to 192.168.1.255. The modem has its web configuration located at http://192.168.1.1/ and uses the default username and password of admin and admin.

On the main setup screen select the Bridged Mode Only for the encapsulation, check that the VPI and VCI fields hold the values 0 and 38, finally the multiplexing should be set to LLC. The modem should automatically set these values, if you are using a unit setup for the UK market.

Click Save Settings and the modem will store these and be ready for the next stage, setting up the computer to connect to the modem.

One gotcha is that once the modem is in bridged mode, you will not be able to access its web configuration pages via http://192.168.1.1/. To gain access to reconfigure the unit you will need to reset it via its reset button at the back, and then it will hand your computer an IP address via DHCP in the 192.168.1.x range.

Configuring Windows XP to use an ADSL2MUE in modem/bridged mode

To setup the connection to pass the ISP assigned username and password to the modem, you need to open the Network Connections window (as shown below). Click Create a new connection.

The New Connection Wizard should appear. We will show you each stage in the wizard, adding a few words of explanation as we go. Click Next to proceed to the next step.

In step 2 ensure the Connect to the Internet button is selected and click Next to continue.

Step 3, since Windows will not have most UK ISP's listed, and service providers CD's will not be of much help, select the middle option- Set up my connection manually. Click Next to proceed to the next step.

Step 4 requires you to choose the actual type of physical connection. In this case we need to create a PPPoE connection, so select the middle option.

In Step 5, so that you can remember which icon to click on in the Network Connections page, give this account an easy to remember name. Click Next to proceed to step 6.

Step 6 allows you to define which of the users the connection will be available to. Click Next once you have made your choice.

Step 7, is where you enter the username and password given to you by your ISP. If your ISP has only given you a username, then enter any old bit of text into the password field, but ensure what you type is identical in the Confirm Password field. In our example we are using the bt_test@startup_domain test account.

Now we reach the final step of the wizard, and everything has been entered.

Once the wizard finishes it automatically pops up the Connect window for the connection you have just created. To try out the connection simply press Connect

The creation of the PPPoE link to the ADSL modem and subsequent authentication of your username/password with the service provider should only take a second or two. Once you are authenticated you should find your computer has been issued the full IP address that the ISP has handed out.

Using the ISP assigned IP address directly on a computer is a security risk, as the computer may be totally visible to the Internet. Therefore we recommend at the very least running the firewall built in to Windows XP.

Configuring RFC2364 PPPoA NAT router mode

It is unlikely that people will use the PPPoA mode, since the ADSL2MUE has almost no flexibility in this mode. The one advantage of this mode is that it will allow you to share the connection with multiple computers (connect the modems single Ethernet port to an Ethernet hub/switch to allow more physical connections), while at the same time using NAT to block unsolicited incoming traffic.

The PPPoA configuration is a doddle, select the mode and then enter your own username and password as supplied by your ISP.

Once the modem has carried out the authentication the Modem status page should change from that shown above, to one showing the ISP assigned IP address.

The upside to using PPPoA mode is the basic security that using a NAT device provides, but the ADSL2MUE has no port forwarding or DMZ options, which may limit how useful the mode is. That said, people requiring just simple email and web browsing will have no need for port forwarding.

Performance

The ASDL2MUE spent most of its life during the review partnered with a ZyXEL P-334WT wireless router, and the combination performed very well together, running for a few weeks with no great hassles. We did find though that if the ADSL connection dropped for some reason, e.g. an ISP outage, or unpluging the wrong lead by mistake, that the authentication part of the bridged mode would appear to be slower to get up and running compared to an all-in-one ADSL modem/router.

One other warning is that the LED's on the front of the ADSL2MUE appear to have a slow update speed, i.e. if you plug a cable in, you may have to wait a second or so for the LED to reflect the presence of the connection.

We were using the ADSL2MUE on a fairly standard 2Mbps ADSL connection, which did not seem to tax the modem. Performance looked fine both in terms of download/upload speeds and the latency of the link. How the unit will perform on ADSL2+ lines remains to be seen once the services are widely available.

Conclusion

The ADSL2MUE is a very basic but versatile piece of kit, and its bridge mode should avoid a lot of the problems with older broadband routers, where the router cannot cope with other types of IP PassThrough mode.

The modem is likely to appeal to those people who have a broadband router already, for example people moving out of a cable modem area to an area where only DSL services are available. Alternatively it should appeal to home workers who have been supplied a VPN router, but cannot use this behind a traditional ADSL router that is running NAT.

The downside to the flexibility of a two box broadband solution is the extra power supply and leads can make for a messy cable arrangement. This is something people need to weigh up. We found one nice advantage was that you can site the ADSL2MUE near to the master telephone socket in a property, and use an Ethernet cable to run the connection to your wireless broadband router, which is then located in an optimum location for propagating the wireless signal.

The street price of around £30, does make this modem a tempting buy, since it makes the choice of wireless routers much wider, allowing you to look at the latest units like the RangeMax devices from Netgear, or routers that have support for a webcam or USB hard drive.


Prices: £29.78 - Linksys ADSL2MUE Ethernet modem (£35 including VAT)
Street price around £25 to £35
Links: Linksys UK website
Where to Buy: See our DSL Hardware FAQ

Andrew Ferguson
andrew@thinkbroadband.com

The contents of this review should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision - You should always discuss your requirements with your service provider.