by klui » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:38 am
I've been checking for internet service upgrades on and off every couple of months for the past year and several weeks ago I could upgrade my 25/2 FTTN service to symmetric fiber. The tiers are different from AT&T's and price is a little more expensive but upgrades aren't promotional packages.

Sonic offered me FX1 50/50 @ $50/month, FX2 100/100 @ $70/month, and FX3 1000/1000 @ $90/month.
AT&T offered me 100/100 @ $50/month, 300/300 @ $50/month, and 1000/1000 @ $70/month. The first 2 have 1 TB/month transfer cap.

A person in Sonic tech support was confused about their tiers and stated in email FX1 was asymmetric. Another CSR quickly made a correction. We chose FX1 since that is actually a small increase of ~$4 from our current plan. And if we need more bandwidth we should be able to upgrade without requiring a technician dispatched.

The upgrade request took exactly one week to get a tech to do the changes who showed up at 9AM. The pole closest to my home didn't have a fiber splice enclosure ( and he fortunately had a 300-foot outdoor cable in his truck, otherwise one had to be sent onsite. Getting the cable into the house was non-eventful. There was already a caulked hole where my Cat6 homerun for FTTN goes into the garage and I planned this day by running some ethernet drops to my garage several months ago.

When my parents got Sonic Fiber, the tech installed a small fiber entrance terminal ( at the front of their house while mounting the ONT by an electrical outlet. For my installation AT&T used an all-in-one ONT/entrance terminal bracket intended for indoors. ( ... 1.0&px=200) The difference between the all-in-one and a dedicated entrance terminal is the latter can be installed outdoors but would require a coupler--the all-in-one just needs a splice between the outdoor cable and a patch cord. My parents' transition enclosure was also mounted indoors. My cabling took around 2 hours.

Now the ONT needed actviation. Unfortunately the website the technician was using couldn't see any ONTs to activate for my service order. After spending over an hour on the phone, the folks over the phone said the only solution was to cancel the order and rebuild it for a followup dispatch.

The followup was a week later. Another technician came that day at around 9AM. I got a call from Sonic 15 minutes prior that informed us the tech would be late and should arrive 15 minutes from that point. This time he used an app on his phone but again saw no ONT, so he again called his support. He informed me that the app's interface had changed recently because of ONT activation problems. His support activated the ONT within 15 minutes and the BGW210-700 Residential Gateway quickly authenticated to AT&T's network. He used his app to test the bandwidth and it showed 50/50 but latency was around 20 ms. I asked him this and he said it was due to him using a VPN. Later I confirmed that latency is around 5 ms while using IP Passthrough. This tech told me AT&T now uses the same topology as Sonic did several years ago: dedicated fiber entrance terminal and separate ONT.

Code: Select all

Test History
Test Completion Time    Direction    Throughput(Mbps)    Overhead    Average Latency(ms)
09/09/2019 10:47:46     downstream   64.631              70          4.946
09/09/2019 10:47:26     upstream     63.348              70          4.401
The RG had an older version of the software that allowed me to retrieve different logs like system, firewall, update, etc. Later that night it autoupdated to 2.3.4 which took that feature out and now you can only retrieve policy logs. The current version has a bug that disables authentication if the device access code is changed. I haven't rebooted the RG to see if this corrects it. I don't have anything connecting to the RG's LAN/WiFi except the ATA and I created a rule in my firewall that only allows a select few devices access to the RG webUI. Coming from the Pace 5031NV, this new RG allows you to not print the device/WiFi access codes in the device status page. The pages also work regardless if you have JavaScript enabled/disabled on your browser--a nice feature.

After everything was working for 1 day, I was told by support the number port won't happen unless I connected the new ATA. My number ported in less than a day. I started getting calls on my home phone and noticed my cell wasn't ringing through Sonic Mobile Communicator. On my PC the Accession program said the password was incorrect and that's when I discovered the setting at had default settings. Sonic Mobile Communicator was unchecked and I had to create a password. After I did that the app on iOS/Android could login but not Accession. It complained about my service provider is not supported. That's when I called Sonic support and I was told to uninstall and reinstall the app, which worked.

One issue about the number port is all my contacts in Accession were lost, including the transition number's. Sonic support now knows about this potential issue and should start warning customers who do future upgrades, or change their workflow and perform auto migrations. I hadn't expected this because the last time I upgraded, I went from ADSL (no soft phone capability) to FTTN. Sonic support told me the port is like subscribing to a new phone line except it has the old number. For those who are migrating and use a soft phone, export your contacts from before your equipment arrives.

On the whole the connection works well. The largest difference is the upload + latency. All my monitoring programs needed adjustment, esp. the modem stats scraper. The RG doesn't show ONT statistics so I make do with FW version, data transfer stats, uptime, things like that. Logging into my home network isn't a drag anymore. I can monitor my webcams without it being a slide show. Bufferbloat is an issue. The IP Passthrough is a problem if users want a larger NAT table. The BGW210-700 has 8K entries while my firewall supports 128K.

EDIT: The upgrade does not come with a UPS. Because my UPS is in my network closet, I needed to get one for the ONT. Then I remembered I have an old Belkin UPS that AT&T gave customers who subscribed to VoIP and that has the same voltage rating as the ONT's power adapter. It's also rated provide 3A instead of 0.5A.