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Going cold turkey while setting up a hotspot

With my wife and I now using laptops as primary workstations at home, we decided to use a Wi-Fi router to share our PLDT myDSL connection. The snaking network cables were threatening to trip us and our kids.

I bought a Linksys WRT54G after reading about its storied history. Mark Stephens, writing as Rober X. Cringely, calls the WRT54G and its Linux system “The Little Engine That Could.”

Linksys wrt54g LINKSYS WRT54G. I used this Wi-Fi router to set up a wireless broadband connection at home. Click to enlarge image.

In my case, it was “the sleep-deprived blogger who couldn’t with the little engine that could.” I did eventually set it up—and I’m now using it to publish this post while downloading tons of files—but only after I went Internet-deprived cold turkey, at home at least.

Problem

The problem was the PLDT myDSL modem at home—it was a modem router. The Linksys WRT54G comes with a setup CD that guides you visually into setting up the Wi-Fi router. It wouldn’t work for me because I needed to make the PLDT myDSL router bridge the connection and let the WRT54G handle the routing function.

PLDT myDSL uses PPPoE to establish Internet connection. I called up tech support to request my username and password (they explicitly told me they wouldn’t help in setting up the Wi-Fi router because it was beyond PLDT’s scope) and was given [myphonenumber]@pldt as user name and [my account number] as password.

There’s the rub. I later learned from the PLDT tech guy who went into my house that my username is just my phone number.

I entered the admin interface of my PLDT router (accessible at 192.168.1.1) to bridge the connection and then entered into the Wi-Fi router the PPPoE username and password combination given to me by the PLDT call center support staff. Despite repeated attempts, the Linksys WRT54G couldn’t establish a connection.

Linksys installation guide ROUTER SETUP GUIDE. The Linksys Wi-Fi router comes with a CD containing a visual and step-by-step installation guide. Click to enlarge image.

I reentered the PLDT router’s admin interface and changed a few settings. I couldn’t recall clearly what the changes were, but I’m sure one had to do with DHCP. After I saved the new settings, I was locked out of the PLDT myDSL router. I could no longer access it. What’s worse, I had no Internet connection. To compound the disaster, I did it close to dawn on a Sunday.

I called up PLDT support to log a ticket and told them what happened. A PLDT technician called me up early Tuesday morning and kept saying “di man unta ka pwede musud sa admin sa modem” (you’re not supposed to enter the admin interface of the modem). He said it twice over the phone and twice when he went to my house. By his tone, I thought he would make me write “I promise not to play around with my modem’s settings again” a hundred times on a whiteboard.

Setting it up

After he fixed the modem, he said he’d leave the router setup to me. I got the impression that PLDT doesn’t want to help you set up third-party routers for your connection. I’m a bit perplexed because it’s a service I’m willing to pay for. Not that I wouldn’t attempt it myself (I’m a tech masochist, after all). Maybe it’s because I just have a residential plan.

After the PLDT man left, I didn’t bother with the setup CD and accessed the WRT54g using its web interface (accessible at 192.168.1.1). I entered the PPPoE username and password combination, this time without the @pldt suffix, and I was able to establish a connection.

The first thing I did after setting up the connection is to set up port forwarding. It’s ridiculously easy to forward a port to get good Bittorrent speeds. But to be able to do this, you have to set up your computer to use static IPs when connecting to the router. In Ubuntu Linux, I use wicd and it’s very easy to set this up using the application.

I tested download speeds using a torrent with less than 50 seeders and I was getting 50kbps, which is good enough for me considering I was just getting less than half that before.

Port forwarding with Linksys WRT54g EASY PORT FORWARDING. The admin interface of the Linksys WRT54G allows you to easily forward ports for your applications and Bittorrent downloading. Click to view larger image.

I still have to secure the router. I had problems connecting my Linux laptop to it using WPA2, so I just disabled security. I might use MAC filtering plus encryption and a few other things later. Right now, the only security is the power switch in the extension cord.

I was disappointed the Linksys WRT54G package did not come with a wall mount. But here’s a great tip from a YouTube user on how to easily mount it. I might try this in a few days.

By Max Limpag

Max is a journalist and blogger based in Cebu City, Philippines. He is co-founder of the journalism start-up InnoPub Media.