Monday, 1 February 2021

Technical: A whole weekend networking

On it since Friday

It is like the dogged determination of a hungry dog that just found a juicy bone, I could not relent until I had found a solution to my unfortunate network problem. I have been with Virgin Media for over 6 years until I was quite persuaded to review the quality of the service and how much I was paying for it, especially that of the package I was offered, I was only using the broadband and not the telephony or television bundle.

After getting a third off my subscription, I was sent a new cable modem, the Virgin Media Super Hub 3 to replace my Virgin Media Super Hub 2AC, it was supposed to be a plug-n-play activity which I left until after work on Friday, it was anything but.

Blog - For the food, I can forget

It should work, I thought

Connecting it up in the basic configuration that I had with the one I was replacing with the wireless configuration switched off, that was the beginning of my problems, my wired connections that came through a switch to just 19 other devices on my network could not reach the Internet. What was baffling was to use a basic analogy, I had arrived at the gate, been seen by security and all I needed was to be waved through, but I was held back.

The Super Hub 3 listed all my devices on its administration page, but it was not letting them onto the Internet, it being the gatekeeper. Could it be a compatibility problem? Quite doubtful as all my kit had only had their firmware updated.

No Internet no help

My NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 R8000 router on its administration page was saying there was no Internet connection, yet, my Amazon Fire Stick 4K was getting on the Internet having obtained by WiFi an IP Address, it was making no sense as my laptops obtaining IP Addresses from the same router could not get online.

There was nothing wrong with my setup, the only variable that had changed was the Super Hub 3. So, I called Virgin Media and they were as helpful as a blacksmith giving a brain surgeon instructions for performing a radical frontal lobotomy. Much as I was convinced that the problem was with the Super Hub 3, I switched it to modem mode with no success.

Reverting to router mode and the wireless service enabled, some devices did connect but it was unstable, my laptops getting nowhere. I then reconnected the old Super Hub 2AC but as the service had been bound to the new hub, I was having no luck.

Firm on the wares

Along the way, I found that the switch TP-Link TL-SG108E was behind on its firmware, so I updated it, though the latest was 3 years old. Still, no progress and Virgin Media from their myopic perspective even after over an hour of communication with a lady considerably more knowledgeable about networks were satisfied if I could connect one device and it went online, the problem was mine. They even wanted me to pay an additional fee for support on a service they changed only 4 days ago. I was exasperated.

Internet searches crept along with snippets and no clear solutions, I needed to piece together these elements with the hope that I might get some headway. Then I realised the stock firmware on my NETGEAR router did not expose all the elements I need to troubleshoot that No Internet screen comprehensively. Now, I was on to a crazy path that could brick my router. I found flashed the router firmware with the latest version of FreshTomato firmware for my model, it first looked dead, but a factory reset gave it a FreshTomato persona and I was ready to play.

It all clicked together

I was given too many levers than I knew to manage, even my knowledge of networks was challenged, but I found enough to manipulate things better. I put the SuperHub 3 back into modem mode disabling the wireless functionality by default attached it to the NETGEAR router where the router now acted like the SuperHub 3.

Things were beginning to make some sense even if things did not seem to work as required. Then a final tweak, the gateway address which used to be the address of the SuperHub in router mode now had to become the address of the FreshTomato configured NETGEAR router and suddenly, all my devices appeared in the list of managed devices by NETGEAR and they were waved through the gate, the SuperHub 3 and onto the Internet. That is the short version of how I deduced the solution.

The WiFi SSIDs had changed, so all my devices were reregistered as well as my wireless printer and I guess we can all go to bed happy. Much as it was a bit inconvenient tethering my work laptop and another to my mobile phone for the day, I guess some things have to be done to get other things fixed.

No comments:

Post a comment

Comments are accepted if in context are polite and hopefully without expletives and should show a name, anonymous, would not do. Thanks.