Telstra Broadband Bungles

The End column, the Australian Industry Standard
Issue 7, 14 August 2000
by Neale Morison

Velocirapper, when did you decide to take matters into your own hands?

It was like the minute the Telstra guy sees all the machines and the coax trailing over the picture rail he says "Whoa, man, I'm outa here!" and I say well aren't you going to set up my cable and he says no way, no servers, no networks, I'm gone. Like nobody can have a network. Because Telstra owns the Internet, it's not like it's a network, is it, it's Telstra's proprietary system.

So Telstra offered no support in setting up your cable Internet connection?

Well, they dug up the yard and stuck an outlet on the wall, and tested the cable modem, like that's really hard, you turn it on and the test light flashes.

But this was a cable Internet plan that specifically states no servers and no networks are supported.

So am I a giant corporation because I have a server or two? Anyway he left the Ethernet card, and I already had one in every box, so I figure I can put two in one box, one for the cable and one for the LAN. But the Telstra guy didn't even leave any server addresses and there was just this really lame pamphlet that says hey, you lucky dude, Welcome to Telstra's exciting sensual Internet experience.

So how did you deal with the lack of information?

Well I unplugged a workstation from the LAN and plugged the cable modem into its NIC and ran winipcfg and told it to release the IP addresses and got it to pick up a new Big Pond IP by DHCP and then I ran the setup they give you on the CD-ROM and it downloaded this weird Telstra client app and connected. And after I while I found these bigpond newsgroups, and they're full of dudes talking about how to run a network on a cable connecton.

So Telstra's own newsgroups sponsor discussions on how to defeat Telstra's cable Internet plan policies?

Yeah, all the information I needed was right there. They were really helpful.

So what did you do?

It was like I thought, you have to have two NICs in one box, but first you just have one, and set up the cable connection, which I already did, then you have to take the machine apart and put in the other NIC, and reboot a few times, but it didn't work. The machine didn't go at all but that was some PCI slot thing and after I moved that cards to different slots and rebooted a few more times it went but it still didn't work. Then I figured out I had a memory range resource conflict and I fixed that and rebooted again and then when it didn't work I had to fool around with the TCP/IP configuration and reboot a few more times. I had to reinstall Windows networking for some reason, and reboot. Then it went.

So you are able to run a Big Pond Advance cable Internet connection and a local area network at the same time?

Sure, no probs.

Why do you think Telstra doesn't support it? Is it because the network set up is complex?

They don't want more than one person having access on the same cable connection.

And is that possible?

Oh yeah, you just have to put a proxy server in, WinProxy or Sygate, it's like a combination firewall and proxy setup. The network just looks like one IP address to Telstra, cause it's all going through the proxy, but everyone gets fast access.

Where do you get these proxy servers?

Just download them.

And are you able to run a Web server or an FTP server from your network?

Yeah, but you can't really give them a domain name, you have to connect through the IP address.

Doesn't that change regularly if you're obtaining your IP address by DHCP from the Telstra server?

Hardly ever changes. Even if you lose it you tend to get the same one back. Depends on the MAC address on your NIC.

What happens when Telstra does a port scan and discovers your servers running?


And how do you like cable Internet?

Cool. You still only get about 20Kbps most of the time from the US, so it's not like broadband, oh, I think I'll watch a full screen movie now, but Internet radio works. Sometimes you hit 100Mbps. MP3s download really fast. Hey, how about Napster winning the appeal? Sweet as.