I just cancelled my Singtel broadband and signed up for Starhub Fibre Broadband. Through the whole episode – I gleamed some useful bits of information so just thought I would share them here. I was apprehensive about the switch over to Starhub due to poor reviews on their performance but after the switch, well, it has been holding up pretty well – web surfing, downloading, youtube, video streaming etc.
Fibre Broadband runs through two devices. You will need to connect the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) to the Termination Point (TP) installed by OpenNet. The Wireless Home Gateway (HG) is then connected to one of the ports on the Optical Network Terminal. The other LAN ports on the ONT are not active and you cannot connect other network devices to it. If you also signed up for the free phone line, then connect your phone to the ONT or re-connect it back to your RJ11 network.
The Wireless Home Gateway is basically the router. Starhub provides the Dlink DIR-865L. It is a decent dual-band AC router, though the range performance didn’t seem to be that good. If your home is currently wired up with LAN, good for you, you could connect another router to the DIR-865L for extended wireless coverage. Just disable DHCP on the second router and make sure it is connected to the LAN port and not the WAN port. Other alternatives would be the usage of homeplugs. 500Mbps homeplugs from China with EU/UK plugs are about US$40.
The 865L comes with 2 USB ports so you can connect a USB hard drive to it to function as a NAS. You can access it through the default web-based client, or as a SAMBA connected drive. I recommend the SAMBA option for seamless connectivity. Under Windows File Explorer, type \192.168.1.1 or the IP location of your router and you can access the connected devices directly on your computer. You can map it to a shared network drive for easy access too by your other devices.
There are a couple of things to take note of when signing up with Starhub. As mentioned, they do offer a free digital home phone line service. It could be a brand new number or as I did, you could port over your existing Singtel analog number to save some additional cash. However, that means a couple of things: 1) your phone output source is now your ONT device or cable modem (more on that later). 2) You would need to keep the device powered up to ensure your home line remains active. The transfer from Singtel to Starhub took approximately 7 working days, with a 6-8 hours downtime on the day of activation – so its probably good you let your family members know, especially the non tech-savvy folks.
The typical use case scenario is for the phone to be connected to the ONT at the TP. However, due to the location of my TP, I didn’t want to have the phone service there. Instead, I requested Starhub to provide the digital line over a cable modem instead (I had an existing cable modem so they just activated the MAC ID). I am not sure if Starhub would charge for an additional cable modem but I have heard instances where they waived it off. The advantage for me here is that I have more flexibility on deploying the cable modem and resultant phone line. From the modem output, I connected the phone cable back to my wall socket. This shared the phone service to the rest of the existing ports at home.
Disadvantage? Well, additional power draw and heat output definitely. Also, if you were hoping that Starhub would offer you an additional internet service over cable, it doesn’t work that way as only the VOIP service is activated. This is not the $69.90 500Mbps fibre plan and 100Mbps Cable plan that Starhub is offering for additional service reliability. It is sad that reliability is offered through a redundancy mechanism instead of improving service standards. Since Starhub ties internet access to the MAC ID of the cable plan, what could be interesting is perhaps then to share the plan – at different locations? Would it work? Probably. Would Starhub ban access? Probably as well, if they find out.
I am however using the cable modem as an extended repeater to further extend the range. It is connected to my DIR-865L via a LAN cable. This mitigates the fact that the device is serving only as a trunk for my phone service.