Which is a good DSL modem
February 5, 2007 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I want to get internet access in my apartment and I think DSL looks like a good idea. I live in Montreal and I think I'll need dry-loop (no phone line) to get it working. I'm going with a 3rd party (as in not Bell in Montreal Canada, not sure who yet) and I need to get my own DSL modem. Any recommendations?

I saw a post that said Cisco 678 but that post was in 2004 so I'm not sure if that's still a good deal/idea. I don't need a router or wireless, and I'd like the best speeds and controllability as possible. Is the 678 still a good idea for just a simple modem? Or is there something better now?

Also there's a lot of choice for ISPs, so if anyone knows a good DSL provider, or even another cheaper net protocol service for me to get (with unlimited bandwidth) please suggest here too!
posted by Napierzaza to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Whatever you do, I'd suggest Googling extensively for reviews of the given service. Because there are so many crackpots out there calling themselves ISPs the best way to find out what's what is through word-of-mouth.

I have an account with Magma for $29.95 and no charge modem rental, but I'm holding on to it for dear life since they were bought out by Primus and became way, way more expensive under that banner.
posted by loiseau at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2007

You can try 3web. Very reasonable prices.
posted by reformedjerk at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2007

Looking around on http://www.canadianisp.com/ I found as loiseau suggested I found TekSavvy which has great reviews and good prices. In fact I am now tempted to try them.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:17 AM on February 5, 2007

Up here the phone company charges per 1/4 mile after x amount, so proximity might be a very important factor in choosing an ISP.
posted by ODiV at 11:26 AM on February 5, 2007

Er, that should have read "the phone company charges per 1/4 mile after x distance for a 2 wire loop..."
posted by ODiV at 12:13 PM on February 5, 2007

When I had DSL in Montreal, it was through radioactif.com. I bought an internal ASDL modem directly from them. Good prices and good service, overall. Unlimited transfers is a great feature (depending on what you are planning to do).
posted by bluefrog at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2007

Meant "unlimited bandwidth". Sorry for the gallicism...
posted by bluefrog at 12:37 PM on February 5, 2007

From my DSL research, as far as I know, non-Bell ISPs simply buy Bells DSL in bulk and then sells it at it's own price. (This is the same way long distance competition was implemented way back when.) So as far as reliability goes, it's basically all the same.

Although I don't live in Montreal anymore, the ISP I use is clearly based in Quebec. Check it out at www.look.ca. (We've had it for 3 1/2 yrs with very good sevice ... ie when you call the 1-800 number, you can actually speak to a real person - far more appealing than "Emily" the Bell androperator). Good luck.
posted by commissioner12 at 5:37 PM on February 5, 2007

Radioactif was a big letdown for me... same phone line, same modem, but using radioactif account instead of sympatico account and my connection would be crapo-rama....use the sympatico connection and it would be just fine. Too bad, I seem to remember them offering static IPs.
posted by furtive at 5:53 PM on February 5, 2007

Thanks for the replies on the ISP everyone but...

Uh, does anyone have a modem recommendation? Is the Cisco modem 678 good?
posted by Napierzaza at 10:20 PM on February 5, 2007

I test DSL Modems for a living. IADT (I Am A DSL Tester?).

The Cisco 678 is not only discontinued but it was a G.Lite modem, which means maximum DS of about 1.5Mbps. DSL technology has evolved several steps in both speed and reliability since G.Lite, so you want to look for something newer. FWIW, in 2004 that was good advice. The 678 was our benchmark modem during that time because it was very, very solid.

A critical component to your decision, which unfortunately may be difficult information to obtain, is what kind of hardware is on the other end of the DSL connection (commonly referred to as the DSLAM), and what type of DSL protocol is being used.

Knowing the type of DSL chipset in the DSLAM is useful, because interoperability between manufacturers can be a bit shaky. So, if you can get the telco to divulge to you that they the DSLAM you will be connecting to has a Broadcom chipset, you should seek out a Broadcom-based modem.

Knowing what kind of DSL protocol is being used is also important (there are many flavors), and you should make sure that whatever modem you buy supports the protocol the telco is using.

Most likely the telco is offering a version of asymmetric DSL, or ADSL. Standards within the ADSL family are G.Lite (1.5Mbps DS, 512kbps US), G.DMT (8.1Mbps DS, 1Mbps US), ADSL2 (faster still), ADSL2+ (faster still). Be warned that just because the telco uses a particular standard does not mean you will be getting that level of speed. The distance traveled between your home and the DSLAM affects the rate, and the telco will almost certainly rate-limit you, as this is how they structure their rate plans (and a big reason why DSL sucks over cable, but that's another story).

Some good ADSL modem brands: Comtrend, Westell, Actiontec, Netopia.

Also, in my own experience, the modem brand with the most problems is Visionnet.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:23 AM on February 6, 2007

Okay, that's great information. But there's not specific unit to get? I'm going to try and get the information you recommended. Thanks very much!
posted by Napierzaza at 8:53 AM on February 6, 2007

But there's not specific unit to get?

There's no way to recommend a specific modem if you don't have the information stated above. I could recommend, for example, an excellent Conexant-based ADSL2+ modem, but that doesn't do you much good if your DSL connection turns out to be Broadcom-based SDSL. Also, a good TI-based ADSL modem might work fantastically with a TI-based DSLAM, but not a Broadcom-based DSLAM.

I wish it were easier, but it's not.

A different tack you might pursue-- ask the DSL provider you are going to use what kind of modem they recommend. They want your $$, and the more satisfied you are the more $$ they get...seems like it would be in their best interest to give you good advice.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2007

mcstayinskool please answer this even thought the topic is old. Is the Cisco 827 H DSL modem worth the money? I don't mind programming it. Is it the successor to the 678?

I contacted the ISP and they said they buy access in bulk from Bell, so they have no idea what the hardware connection is. It's DMT though.
posted by Napierzaza at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2007

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