News archive: Your new connection
June 2nd, 2013
Author: Chris Conder
Tags: FAQ help tips
Posted In: Archive News
The B4RN Fibre Optic Broadband Service
These notes tell you how to get started with your new B4RN Gigabit real fibre service.
As you discover what you can do you may have more questions so please ask.
You may also discover useful things for others to try so please tell us and we’ll make them into fact pacts.
Fact pack for telephony from John Hamlett: VOIPing your home v2
When your equipment is ‘fused’ in your home it may not be live immediately. The volunteer who sets it up should be able to give you an indication of when this will happen. It depends on a number of things, how many chambers are between you and the cabinet, and if the fibre route is complete further on from your property.
Please leave your box plugged in unless advised of a longer wait (in this case you will be notified when to turn it back on). Many volunteers are working on this network and they do work in the order its possible, usually depending on the weather conditions in the fields. Lots of rain usually means delays, this can’t be avoided.
Once the service is scheduled to go live you will see a second green light appear next to the power light. This is a good sign. You will be contacted to let you know it is live, or you may just try it and find out it works before someone lets you know. Once all the fibre is connected it has to be configured remotely to be allowed on to the network. This can take an hour, or a couple of days depending on the availability of the volunteer technicians. As B4RN becomes more sustainable with more connections these jobs will be paid for and become easier to arrange, but you are the first in the country to be able to get such a high speed service so please be patient.
Making the Connection
There are 2 ways to connect to the network
Wired connection where your device is connected to the box on the wall (CPE) by a cable
This is best for desktop PCs, TVs or for use with with a VOIP – (Voice Over Internet protocol) telephone service. It does not need a password.
Wireless connection,which uses Wifi–
This is slower but ideal for portable devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones
Simply plug an Ethernet cable directly into any one of the yellow plugs (Ethernet ports) on the underside of the box and connect the other end to the Ethernet port on your computer or TV Ethernet ports
Wi-fi (wireless) Connection
(Before you start a new wireless connection make sure you turn off or unplug the power lead from your old modem. Also temporarily disable 3g dongles and digisenders for Sky; all these use the same radio channels. and too many Wi-fi signals cause trouble)
The new B4RN Wireless name is called the ‘SSID’ and you should have been given the password by the volunteer who connected you. Sometimes it is on a sticker on your equipment. Follow the wireless connection instructions for your device and enter the password or WPA when requested.
The picture below is an example of what you might see when connecting an iPad. The ticked service is the one you are connecting to and the other is probably a near neighbour.
Select your wireless name (the one that is ticked) and then enter the password called WPA on the label. Make sure you can see the difference between e.g. a figure 1 and a letter I for the password.
Right click the connection you want to use to open the properties screen and enter the password
Note: Some newer computers might ask for the PIN but there is a button to click on just below the line to select password (network key) and you can tell your computer to ‘remember the password’ to save you putting it in every time.
If your email services was run through your previous ISP your email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) it may terminate with your contract. (check before you cancel it) If that is the case, we suggest you register with one of the free web based services such as Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook Live (formerly Hotmail) (see http://free-email-services-review.toptenreviews.com) . These can usually be configured to run with the email client on your computer (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird) or can accessed through the web. They generally have high storage capacity and Gmail has the added bonus of Google docs. As a web based services, these have the benefit of being accessible from any computer with internet connectivity and are independent of your service provider so you can keep the address for life. Don’t forget to email all your contacts to let them know you are changing address! If you wish/are able to keep your email address you may also want to get a Gmail account and address and configure it on your email client so you can send emails out through the B4RN service. Full details of how to do this are in the Gmail ‘settings’ tab or on gmail help. Please make sure you notify info@B4RN.org.uk of your new address, or notifications will be sent to the one you registered with and you won’t get them!
The speed of your connection will depend largely on your equipment. Older PCs will probably only have a network card capable of connecting at up to 100Mps so you won’t see speeds faster than that, PCs with a card rated at 1 Gps should be seeing much higher speeds of 500+ Mbps; the limiting factor being conditions on the server you are connecting to.
The best speed test results can be usually be obtained form the Manchester connection to www.speedtest.net but this is only going to be as fast as your equipment or the remote server you are doing a test from. We have found that very few people have good enough kit to get the full gigabit on one machine, but the main thing is that 10 machines in the house could all get 100 megabits per second from your one connection, with no slowing down of the service.
A wireless connection, to laptops etc. will always be slower than a wired one, but should be adequate for your normal needs. Wireless performance can be affected by thick walls or distance from the CPE in large houses but the range can be extended by a using a repeater connected by Ethernet to the CPE or using ‘homeplugs’ to connect via the electric circuit. You have to try and see what works, and there are links to people on the help page in this pack or on the website to advise.
Simple security measures
Having a permanent (always on) internet connection means you are more exposed to virus attacks, Some simple measures can help protect your computer.
Make sure you have an anti virus program installed, keep it up to date – most update automatically when you are connected to the internet – and schedule scans to run at regular intervals probably at a convenient time every day or in the night.
Only open email attachments you are expecting. If in doubt contact the sender before opening.
Don’t follow web links in unsolicited emails; if they purport to link to a site you are interested in type the address into your browser yourself. (in some browsers if you hover over the link it will show the actual address it is pointing to so you can see immediately if it is a fake)
There is no need to pay a lot of money for virus protection, its more important to protect yourself by not visiting sites that could pose a danger or opening unsolicited email links. There are many free antivirus programmes available. http://www.filehippo.com/
As one of the lucky people now connected to a live B4RN service you have a host of new services open to you that were not possible pre-B4RN. One of them is off-site backup.
One of the most common things seen (or actually not seen) when people have problems with their computers is a lack of any kind of backup. This is fine if the computer in question has no important data on it but this is rarely the case. Increasingly people are storing important documents, home videos and hundreds of photos on their computer; not something you want to lose. Which is what would happen if the computer experienced a fatal hard disk failure and there was no backup?
Ask yourself the question, “Would it be OK if I lost all the data on my computer”. If the answer is “No”, then you need to look into a data backup plan if you don’t have one.
The good news is that it is very easy to set up a backup plan it can be as simple or complex as you like, ranging from a straight copy to USB stick or drive to a full off-site cloud backup plan. Some options are as follows:-
Copy data to CD/DVD.
Buy a USB drive and copy important data to that.
Use a dedicated backup service that gives the option of different backup methods.
By far the best method is to back up regularly and ensure that its kept away from the source, in other words not in your house. Again, the good news is that this is easy with services from Mozy, SquirrelSave, Carbonite, CrashPlan and many more. All of these have an easy to use local application which allows selection of important data which once selected, off it goes and backs it up safely. Most offer an initial free on-line amount with paid for additions. (see B4RN website for more on this topic)
If my connection stops working
Your first port of call if your connection stops working is B4RN support (details on page 2) but there are some simple checks you can make yourself which may solve the problem or give you more information to pass to the help desk
Is everything plugged into the power supply and is the power light on the box (CPE) lit?
Is the connection light on the CPE flashing?
Reboot the CPE by removing the power cord, waiting for 10 secs then reconnecting (do not press the reset button or you will lose your connection and will have to notify us to have it reconnected.
if possible check the connection with another device – laptop, mobile phone or tablet
Check with a neighbour to see if they are having the same problem
if using a wired connection
are both ends of the lead connected properly (disconnect then reconnect)
is the connection light on the computer flashing – this is by the Ethernet connection point on the computer. If the light on the CPE is flashing but not the one on the computer try a different lead if you have one
is the computer working normally (apart from not connecting to the internet)
If using Wi–fi
try disconnecting and reconnecting from scratch including entering the password
if you have an Ethernet cable try connecting using that
turning your device off and then on again (rebooting) often works too.
B4RN cannot help directly if the fault is in your equipment but there may be someone in your local community who is willing to help. Ask your local B4RN volunteers.
Alternatively we have a list of people who provide paid for computer services. Different people charge different prices but they will tell you estimated costs when you ring them.
For apple macs contact Phil, email@example.com 07876747187 0152437381
For PCs contact Bob 01200 446722 or 0780 3389215
(If you would like to be added to this list contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
What else can I do with my connection?
You will have enough bandwidth to have an internet television running in every room, all on different channels. You can get free channels (BBC iPlayer or Channel 4’s 4OD for example) but bear in mind you will still need a television licence, if you are live getting the programmes over the internet. There are also on-demand streaming film services like Netflix or Love Film available. If you don’t want to watch them on your computer, you can use internet ready television set or a TV converter box .
A future development will be a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service run solely by B4RN which is basically a telephone that runs over the internet, so you will no longer need a landline. Full details will be provided as soon as possible. If you can’t wait there are many providers out there who can supply the service at varying costs. They will also port your existing number or give you extra ones. An example is Vonage, which also gives you free ringback, call forwarding etc. and unlimited calls for a low price. Fact pack for telephony: v1.2 Vonage your home http://www.vonage.co.uk/ but there are many more to choose from. You will have to sign up with a provider and when you get their ‘box’, just plug it into one of the Ethernet ports on the B4RN equipment. If you wish to keep your existing landline telephone number then make sure you take up a service before you port the number to your new provider. Doing this transfers everything over to your new provider and there is no need to cancel the service you have with the existing provider. The provider will give you full instructions how to do it. The only provider we have noticed problems with so far is Talk Talk, who do not want to co-operate and port your number. In this case it might be easier to get a new number and at least you are spared the misery of nuisance cold callers for a while and you can use the freephone to let all your family and friends know your new number. This is what happens if you move house and is not an insurmountable problem. If the majority of your calls are abroad then you can get a new number in that country to make calls from friends there cheaper.
Cameras and security
There will be plenty of bandwidth for running security cameras and other applications – there are (will be) so many things to try out! However, we want to make sure we get the basic network running and meeting everybody’s needs before we take on more to do. You are welcome to experiment on your own, and please let us, and your neighbours, know how you get on – passing on our knowledge is how this broadband-enabled community will learn and develop.
Don’t want to use VOIP and live in a poor mobile reception area? Why not look at installing a Femtocell (e.g. Vodafone SureSignal) and make maximum use of your mobile contract call time. These mini-phone masts in your home plug into your internet connection and pick up specified mobile numbers in and around the house, routing the call data through the broadband link to your provider. Femtocells cost about £40 depending on your mobile provider.
In larger properties it may be an advantage to have a Wi-Fi repeater to boost coverage. These can be purchased from about £25, help and advice is available from the people listed above.Regarding wifi range extenders, there is a discussion going on in the facebook page (you don’t have to join facebook to view it)and opinions and prices vary. Wifi is always a bit unpredictable especially in old houses. Some recommendations from other users below.http://www.amazon.co.uk/
Devolo-dLAN-500-Wi-Fi-Adapter/ dp/B00C580FZA/ref=pd_sim_ computers_5/280-2968270- 1548633#productDetailshttp://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref= nb_sb_ss_i_3_2/275-1038379- 8835650?url=search-alias% 3Dcomputers&field-keywords=tp% 20link%20wireless%20extender& sprefix=tp%2Ccomputers%2C203
The network is being installed mainly by volunteers and financed by the community (despite promises no government assistance has, so far, materialised) and help is needed in both these areas.
If you are able to invest (minimum investment £100), would you consider making B4RN a loan, or buy shares or if you have ideas for fundraising please contact email@example.com.
To help with the network installation (no experience necessary) look at the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/B4RN-rural-broadband/105319176241916 or use this shortened version if you are typing it in: http://tinyurl.com/cdu7k44 to see where work is proceeding at the moment or mail info@B4RN.org.uk for more information or visit our website https://b4rn.org.uk
The Legal Bits.
We ask that you complete and return the form, which you will receive with your first invoice to confirm that you have entered into a contract with B4RN and accept the conditions of contract.
Initially for one year and that you will pay the charges and not do anything illegal !