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Revisiting How To Bypass Bell’s HH400 Hardware With Your Own Router… Along With Some Commentary About ASUS And Bell


When I first got my Bell Fibe Internet install, I set it up to use my own router to get to the Internet because I never, ever use my telco’s suppled gear for these reasons. Originally, I was using the PPPoE bypass method as described in this article to make this happen, which worked fine except for this:

Now I’m paying for 1.5 Gbps down / 940 Mbps up from Bell. And I am not getting those speeds using PPPoE bypass. And I know that the router is the cause because this is the speed that I get directly from the HH4000:

From the Bell hardware I was getting more than I was paying for.

So I put in a support ticket with ASUS who makes my ZenWiFi AX XT8 mesh router, but I have to say that their tech support was absolutely abysmal in terms of helping me to troubleshoot this issue. More on that in a bit. That negative support experience with ASUS made me go down the rabbit hole of tying to figure out how to maximize the speed of my connection using my XT8. And I hit on a method that so far seems to be stable. Though I will provide the following caveat: Your mileage may vary in terms of using this method depending on what router you are using. And it is a bit on the challenging side to set up. So if you’re not comfortable with the steps below, I would suggest not doing it at all.

In short, what I did is use DHCP and then use Bell’s “Advanced DMZ” feature to give the XT8 an external IP address which avoids the dreaded double NAT. The first time I tried it, this was my experience:

 I did some more experimentation with the “Advanced DMZ” functionality built into the HH4000. My conclusion is that it isn’t very stable based on the fact that it broke HomeKit support and VPN connections from my network to another network would not work at all or very well. Thus I would avoid this option entirely.

It now turns out that I should have done a bit more experimentation. Which I got a chance to do a few nights ago when my wife was not at home. With her not being at home, it gave me the freedom to tinker with the home network without getting yelled at.

We will start with the HH4000. You should connect a CAT 5e or CAT 6 cable from HH4000 10Gbps Port which is the silver one on the right hand side on the back of the HH4000 to the WAN Port on the router. One thing that I should mention is that you need your router to have a 2.5 Gbps port or faster for best results. If you have a 1 Gbps port on your router, you will never ever achieve a speed faster than 1 Gbps up and down. In my case, I have a 2.5 Gbps port on my router, so I will get speeds up to 2.5 Gbps up and down.

Once you do that, here’s what you should do next:

This is where things start to get tricky. That’s why I have this screenshot:

I’ve redacted anything that I think is sensitive from this screen shot. But here’s what you need to do next:

For bonus points make sure that under “Advanced tools and settings” it looks like this screen shot:

Specifically, turn off UPnP, DLNA, and SIP ALG as pictured above.

You should also deal with the WiFi on the HH4000 as well to cut down on potential WiFi interference:

Pro Tip: In my case, I just turn the WiFi off entirely and I have an Ethernet cable plugged into one of the gigabit ports of the HH4000. That way I can plug in a laptop via Ethernet and log into the HH4000 if I need to.

Next you have to go to your router and set the WAN port to use DHCP. How you do that depends on the brand of router you have. So you should check your router’s instructions to get instructions on how to do this.

Now here’s the important part. Power off (pulling the power plug is your best option) both your router and the HH4000. Go find something to do for a couple of minutes. Then power both devices back up. First the router and then the HH4000 once the router is live. If all goes well, you should have a connection to the Internet.

After I confirmed that I was back online, I was able to get this result via the XT8’s built in speed test:

Time to declare victory and have a beer as now I am getting the speed that I am paying Bell for via the XT8.

A couple of notes. I found that two things affected what speed that I could get. The first was QoS or Quality Of Service. Having it on slowed my speed significantly. Having it off increased it significantly. So I’m keeping that feature off. The second thing that affected my speed was a feature called AI Protection which ASUS says “not only protects your connected devices from compromise, but also your family from inappropriate content and unhealthy internet usage when using their smart devices.” Because it scans all the packets coming and going to and from the router for threats it will slow your connection. But based on my testing, it only slowed things by a tiny degree that is only noticeable on a speed test. So I’m going to leave this on because of the security that it provides. If you have similar settings on whatever router you are using, you should check those to maximize your speed.

This configuration has been stable for the last few days, but I will continue to monitor it and I am prepared to revert back to PPPoE bypass if stability becomes an issue. And trade speed for stability as a result.

Now this is the part of the article where I get to rant for a bit. Let’s start with Bell.

Consumers should not have to go through this much effort by using either the above method, or the previous method that I was using, to use their own hardware. And what is driving this level of effort is that Bell for whatever reason insists on using PPPoE on their Fiber connections in Ontario and Quebec (as far as I know, if other places in Canada use PPPoE on Bell’s Fiber connections, please let me know in the comments below). PPPoE was designed for DSL (digital subscriber line) connections and not for high speed fibre connections. Which without going deep into the weeds, this means that this protocol isn’t designed for this volume and speed of traffic. The fact that Bell continues to use PPPoE in 2022 is mind blowing. Much like the lack of IPv6 on their network, Bell really needs to do something about that. While they are at it, they could copy Rogers and just have a proper bridge mode on their modems. While I am sure that Rogers does not want their customers using bridge mode, and people like me are edge cases to them, Rogers at least gives their the customers the option of bridge mode and they even document how to enable it which is a good tech support call deflection strategy. Meanwhile, Bell has no such ability on their modems or documentation even if they did, which is a #Fail. The fact is that having a proper bridge mode would make life a lot easier for consumers as they would not have to go through these sorts of gymnastics just to use their own hardware.

The other part of my slow upstream speed issue was the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 router and how it handles PPPoE traffic. Now to be fair to ASUS, most consumer routers do a craptastic job of handling high speed PPPoE traffic. And because of that, if you want to do PPPoE bypass on your Bell connection because you may not be able to use the method above, you need a really fast router to keep up with the high speeds of a fibre connection that uses PPPoE. If you’re on team ASUS, the only routers that I am aware of that can keep up with a 1.5 Gbps connection that uses PPPoE are the RT-X89X or the GT-AXE16000. But I would not be surprised that if you go to Bell’s 3 Gbps service or higher using either of those routers, that you’d run into a version of the issue that I had with the XT8 as either of those routers are only somewhat faster than my XT8 mesh router. I should also point out that either router is super expensive and complete overkill for most people as they’re aimed at the competitive gaming market. Alternately if you are not on Team ASUS, you can opt to get enterprise class hardware from a company like Netgate or Mikrotik which are not only complete overkill for most people, but they come with a level of complexity in terms of setting them up and operating them that most consumers aren’t used to. But this sort of gear will give you the performance that you need for this use case because it’s enterprise class gear designed for high performance. Either way, if you choose not to use Bell’s hardware for your network, and you want or need to use the PPPoE bypass method, you will need to spend significant amounts of cash to get the speed that you are looking for, and potentially deal with a more complex solution. Which goes back to Bell’s use of PPPoE and why they need to get rid of it sooner rather than later as consumers shouldn’t have to spend large amounts of money and deal with higher level of complexity just to use their own gear instead of Bell’s.

Now I would like to comment on the tech support that ASUS provides. It’s horrifically bad. I spent over two weeks with them running around in circles trying to help them understand what my problem was, which was that this router performs poorly via a PPPoE bypass setup, but performs just fine in the setup that I describe above. Then I ended up sending them endless sets of logs and exchanging endless emails with them to see if they could debug what was going on. The case ended up going to the “next level of support” (their words not mine) at ASUS. And the best that they could come up with is that I had a bad cable between the HH4000 and the XT8. Which is illogical as the PPPoE bypass setup created the slow upstream issue, and a DHCP setup like the one that I had outlined above does not create this issue. Which following that logic chain eliminates the cable as a possibility for the slow upstream issue, and points to a problem with the XT8 router. An organization the size of ASUS should have tech support people who can follow that logic and come to that conclusion. But clearly they don’t and out of frustration, I asked them to close the case.

What is worse is that all this troubleshooting was done via email which is the absolute worst way to provide tech support. Especially with complex issues like this. Getting onto a Zoom session or a phone call would have likely resulted in some sort of positive progress, and maybe even a solution. But they didn’t go that route and the net result of this rather negative experience is that it drove me to look at other options that avoided the use of PPPoE to get better performance from the XT8. It also made me decide that I won’t be recommending ASUS gear to my home and prosumer clients anymore. And chances are, my next router at home won’t be an ASUS product. While ASUS has great hardware, their support doesn’t meet the mark. Having competent tech support adds to the value of the gear that a vendor like ASUS makes. Or in this case, not having competent support detracts from the value of the gear that ASUS makes. So if the people at ASUS are reading this, they might want to look at this negative situation and make changes internally to make sure that they’re not on the wrong side of a public post like this as this sort of #Fail reflects poorly on ASUS as a brand. And will likely affect their future sales.

Rant over.

If you have any questions about setting up your Bell Fibe connection to use your home router via either of the methods that I have described, please leave a comment below or drop me an email and I will do my best to assist. Oh, and if you’re ASUS or Bell and you want to speak to me about what I said above, I’m a very easy person to find and I’d be more than willing to chat with you. All you have to do is take a look at my About page for contact details and we can go from there.

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