Archive for January 8, 2023

Answering Your Questions About Using Advanced DMZ VS PPPoE Passthrough With Your Bell Hardware As Well As Using A UPS With Your Bell Hardware

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2023 by itnerd

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you who have read my previous stories about setting up and using advanced DMZ and PPPoE bypass on Bell hardware and asked a question or made a comment. I’ve tried really hard to answer all your questions on this topic, and if you have a question that I didn’t get to answering, please email me directly and I will do my level best to answer your question.

With that in mind I do have some common questions that I’d like to answer so that it helps others. Starting with the most common question that I get, which is which is better? Advanced DMZ or PPPoE bypass. There’s no “better” option as this is somewhat use case dependent. But having said that, I do have the following thoughts:

  • PPPoE Bypass is the more stable option and easier to set up. It will work without issue if you say lose power or reboot your router. But the problem, if you want to call it that, with PPPoE bypass is that most consumer hardware cannot handle the overhead that PPPoE has. Which means that particularly on the upstream side of the connection, you might not see the full speed that you are paying for. And that becomes evident when you have something above Bell’s 500 Mbps plans. Thus what I would say is that if you have a Bell Fibe connection at or below 500 Mbps, then PPPoE bypass is the best option for you. I would also say that if a “set it and forget it” type of connection matters more than raw speed, this might be an option for you regardless of what speed tier you’re on.
  • In terms of advanced DMZ, this is the faster option by far as you will get very close to the speed that you are paying for. By that I mean that if you have a connection that is capable of 1.6 Gbps downstream, you’ll get very close to that. In my case, I get 1.56 Gbps. And the same is true on the upstream side of the connection. However, the way Bell has implemented this can cause issues. For example, if I do a firmware update on my router, I have to reboot my HH4000 after the router starts to reboot to get Internet access back. Or some routers require a lot of extra work to get it to work with an HH4000 or Gigahub. I’ve also noted that some routers won’t work all with this setup. Finally, I have noted that people with the Gigahub have noticed lag spikes regardless of getting the full speed that they are paying for, which affects video games and streaming negatively. But if you can get this to work, and you can live with any “weirdness” that this setup brings, this might be the better option for you.

Thus my advice is to look at your use case, and see which option would work better for you. I’d also be prepared to experiment with both setups to determine which would work better for you.

Another question that I get often is about using a UPS to provide backup power for both your Internet connection and your home phone. Specifically, how “big” of a UPS do you need? The reason why this is important is that the HH4000 and the Gigahub do not have built in batteries to power them in the event of a power outage. Bell has it’s own advice on this here, but I don’t think that their advice really works as I believe you have to have the longest runtime you possibly can to protect your ability to do things like phone for emergency services if the need arises. Plus a UPS does more than provide power in case of a blackout. It protects your hardware that’s plugged into it from surges (when the current increases suddenly) or sags (where the current drops suddenly). That protects your expensive electronic hardware from things like lightning storms and the like.

What I recommend to my clients is that they use a calculator like this one from UPS company APC to figure out what UPS they need. What you need to do is take the input voltage of each device and multiply that with the amperage to get the number of watts that each device uses. That information is usually found on a label somewhere on the device. Then you need to add the total number of watts up and enter that total into the calculator that I mentioned above. It will then give you suggestions based on the runtime that a given UPS model is capable of.

Let’s walk through this with my use case. I want to power the following devices in the even of a blackout:

  • Bell HH4000
  • Asus ZenWiFi XT8 (Because I want all my HomeKit devices to be able to communicate with each other)
  • Apple HomePod mini (Because that would allow HomeKit to still work outside of my premises)
  • A cordless phone (To make phone calls)
  • Aquara M1S Hub (As that’s the alarm system that I have that is controlled by HomeKit)

So let’s use the Bell HH4000 as an example. If you look at the back of the HH4000 you will see this label:

In this case, the input voltage is 12V and the amperage is 5A. So 12V times 5A is 60 watts. I now have to repeat this exercise with the rest of the hardware that I want to keep powered. So here’s my list of items with the watts that I calculated:

  • Bell HH4000 – 60W
  • Asus ZenWiFi XT8 – 33.25W
  • Apple HomePod mini – 50W
  • A cordless phone – 2W
  • Aquara M1S Hub – 7W

Total: 152.25W

One thing that I should note is all those calculations are likely peak watts. Which means that in “typical” usage, each device may be using less watts. That in turn means that you will likely get longer runtimes. But it is wise to do your calculations based on the worst case scenario.

Now taking this total and putting this into the APC calculator, it gave me a ton of options ranging from having runtimes of 12 minutes to an hour or more. In my case, I am currently using a 650VA UPS from APC which gives me about 20 minutes of runtime as that’s what I had lying around when I got Bell Fibe installed last summer. But I will likely be upgrading to this one as it will give me about an hour of runtime as that is a runtime that I am far more comfortable with. The thing that you should keep in mind that the more runtime that you want is directly related how much that you need to spend. Or if you want a longer runtime, but you don’t want to pay big bucks for that, you need to have less stuff for the UPS to power in the event of a blackout.

A final thing that I should note is that I have UPS units scattered all over my premises that power other HomeKit devices and Apple HomePod Minis. Thus most things are covered from a power perspective.

Hopefully I hope all of that helps you. If you do have any questions, please let me know either by leaving a comment below or sending me an email.