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April 2000

ADSL on OS/2

By: David Eckard swordedg@ntrnet.net

Some time in December, I was cleaning stuff out around my computer when I stumbled across a brochure from GTE, my local telephone company talking about their ADSL service. I have known about their offers for awhile but the installation fee had always put me off. This brochure said something about waving the installation fee.

Intrigued, I called the 800 number listed. They did indeed confirm that till the end of December, the $340 installation fee was waved. Once they answered my questions, they did a test on my line to determine if I was suitable for ADSL. ADSL requires you to be within something like 18,000 feet or about 3 miles of the central phone office. This office is usually a small brick building along the road somewhere near you. There are no people stationed there. In my case, I was eligible for ADSL. The other thing they checked for was the ability to connect with my ISP. I forget the terminology but basically, GTE had a route from my central office to my ISP. This meant that I could keep my current ISP, something I liked a lot.


The original installation date was set for January 14 but on the monday before that, they called me to delay it until January 31 to do some field work. I figured, and the installation guy confirmed, that GTE had to add stuff to the central office to do ADSL. Installation is very simple. My phone lines comes into my apartment at the kitchen phone first. The phone jack was replaced with a special jack that also served as a splitter.

To understand what the splitter is doing, you need to know something about the way ADSL works. Your regular phone line normally carries an audio frequency range from 0 to maybe 4000 hertz. ADSL lines carry an audio frequency range from 0 hertz to about 1 megahertz. The first 4000 hertz used for your regular phone line and the rest for ADSL. When your phone line comes into the house, it contains both your regular line and your ADSL signal. The splitter is used to separate your regular phone signal from the ADSL signal. The regular phone signal still runs on the red and green lines, just like it does without ADSL. The yellow and black pair are used for the ADSL line. This means that if you currently have two phone lines, you will either have to run another line, or drop the second phone line.

I had my computer modem attached to the jack in my living room. This jack was not changed. A two line splitter was installed here. My regular phone was reattached to line one. We reused the modem phone line for ADSL. The other end was attached to a Fujitsu speed port modem. When I turned it on, the three led's lit meaning it was communicating with my ISP. Total installation time for GTE at my location, 15 minutes.

My part of the Installation

I use the standard convention where Kb/s means Kilobits per second and KB/s means Kilobytes per second. This is used in the networking field to keep from getting confused. A byte represents one character, which on a pc is usually 8 bits.

I knew before hand that I had to supply my own ethernet card. Knowing that I was getting 768 Kb/s down, I knew that performance of this card was not overly important. So I bought a $12, no name 10 Mb/s combo card from the local computer store, AFTER checking to see if there were OS/2 drivers. I already had one ethernet card in my computer for a home lan. I removed my modem as I ran out of slots and inserted the new network card into a PCI slot.

I used MPTS (May be called "Adapters and Protocol Services" or just "MPTS" in your System Setup Folder, or type MPTS at a command prompt) to install my new network card. My original ethernet adapter is an AMD Family adapter installed in slot 0. Slot 1 is my new adapter. For both cards, I had to click on Other Adapters to add it to the list. Then I installed only the IBM TCP/IP protocol on my new adapter.

Next, you have to configure tcpip services. I am running the 16bit TCP/IP stack. The following may be slightly different for the 32bit stack. I have always just opened a command line session and typed, TCPCFG, to get this. Or you can open the "TCP/IP Configuration (LAN)" object in the "TCPIP Utilities (LAN)" folder. You need to configure the first three tabs of this. I get a static IP address that was given to my by my ISP. Lan interface 0 is my original ethernet card. Lan Interface 1 is my new one, the one to be used for ADSL.

On the network tab, shown above, I clicked on lan 1, manual, and entered my IP address and Subnet Mask.

The routing tab must contain a Default route. This tells your computer where to go for any IP address that it does not have a specific route for it. Without this, you can only communicate with your local network. My ISP has two connections to the internet. The name servers are on a different sub net than my ADSL line. To get to my name servers, my ISP uses a gateway server. Click on add and replace the word network with a D and fill in the address of your gateway server (this comes from your ISP) as shown below. This will fill in a default entry and a net entry for you.

The Hostnames tab is where you should add the address of your name servers (this information comes from your ISP.)

Now close the window and tell it to save when asked. Reboot.


Once these are filled in, you are ready for the next step. The GTE guy left me with what is called a crossover ethernet cable. This cable reverses some lines eliminating the need for a network hub. Plug this cable into your ADSL modem and to the ethernet card. With this done, I was able to test my connection. The easiest way is probably to go to a command line session and type ping hobbes.nmsu.edu. Ping is a program that basically ask a destination address if they are there. It is a good way to check a connection. When this worked, the excitement began to mount.

I next started netscape. When it came up with my default home page across the net, it was celebrating time. The only test that failed for me was my news reader. This was NOT my problem as my ISP first, didn't have my address configured as an internal address, then it didn't have me listed as allowed to use the news server. Getting that solved took five days because of weather and other factors (we got over 20 inches of snow in Raleigh and at least 15 at my apartment. Three YEARS worth in one storm and most of that melts by 9 am.)


The service I got was 768 Kilobits per second down stream (to me) and 128 Kilobits per second upstream (to the net). This is costing my an additional $32.50 per month on my phone bill. Only about $7 more than a second line would cost. My ISP bill actually went DOWN. Evidently modems cost more to maintain. For single files, I average about 35KB/s. I have streamed MP3 files and they come in at 18KB/s. I have configured my news reader to use four streams. When it gets all of them going at once, it peaks at about 94KB/s. I figure that I can download well over 200MB per hour. You can see an IPSpeed snap shot here.

My original reason for investigating ADSL was the speed improvement. I was also missing telephone calls due to my time on the net. The seven dollar difference between ADSL and a second line sold me.

David Eckard has used OS/2 since version 3.0 was released. He has programming experience with embedded systems and protocol stacks for routers. He is currently looking into other employment opportunities.

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