Monday, October 1, 2007

Silly Verizon and their creepy new router

I recently signed up for the Verizon FIOS service. Its nice, but probably not in the way you'd think. I only have 5 mbps down / 2 mbps up, which is the basic plan, and in my opinion, the only plan that makes financial sense. I just can't see myself paying $180 per month for home internet service.

The nice part about the service is the latency. I have a 12ms ping to Google. I doubt most people get that at home on their cable or DSL lines. The best I've ever had at home was 40ms. At any rate, the low latency helps web pages load that extra bit faster (and it is noticeable).

The one thing about their service is their router. Apparently, I'm not the first one that thinks it is a little creepy. Verizon has customized it to provide their IPTV (cable) service as well as perform the normal router functions. I decided to use my Linksys WRT54G instead.

If you want to use their IPTV services, I'm willing to bet that you can chain their router behind yours. Just make sure to either change your router's DHCP subnet to something other than 192.168.1.0/24, or change the Verizon router to use a different subnet (ie. 192.168.2.0/24). Most consumer routers will puke if you try to give them a non-routable IP address on their WAN interface in the same subnet as the one they are supposed to give to their own clients. Rightly so, I guess. Please comment about your experience with chaining the Verizon router below your own.

While setting up my own router, I noticed a few things:

  1. Verizon sets up your router with a random ESSID (network name) and WEP encryption. My tech wrote down the WEP key when she installed the service.

  2. Even if you do stick with the Verizon router, please switch to WPA. WEP is easy enough to crack and won't keep your data secure from a moderately skilled attacker.

  3. The default login credentials for the router are admin/password. I've also heard some people having success with using "password1" as the password. Please change this the first time you log in.

  4. Verizon uses MAC filtering, so you must spoof/clone the MAC on your router to match the Verizon router.

  5. There is a MAC address printed on the outside of the router. Unfortunately, this is NOT the MAC address used by the WAN interface on the router. Instead, you must log into the router and choose the "System Monitoring" section (upper-right corner). This will give you what they call a "Broadband MAC Address."


Verizon Router Broadband MAC

Once I used the correct MAC address, I was able to get onto the FIOS network using my own router with no problems. They say your own router may not perform as well as theirs, but I didn't notice any difference.

One last thing: You might notice that each time you type a character in the password field, several characters will appear. A brief look at the code suggests that they are hashing the data as you type. While it is incredibly annoying to have those characters randomly appear, at least they are using BSD-licensed code from a reputable source. Thank you Paul Johnston!

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