DSL - Broad Band Internet Connection


The DSL connection provides unprecedented flexibility and functionality for the automated home.  Prior to taking the leap, we had a single phone line and a 28.8kbit modem.  Not only was surfing a drag, but we realized that the phone line was tied up while on-line.  Now, the connection is really fast (20 times better than before), we do not have to worry about missing calls, and we can control and communicate with the home from anywhere on the Internet!  As a side note, cable modems are not yet available in my neighborhood.
The major features are:


The DSL connection is via Verizon.  As of this writing, I have the 1.5Mbits/sec downlink, and 128kbit/sec uplink.  This costs $30/month total (equipment and the first month were free).  Unfortunately, this service is dynamic IP and PPPoE.  However by using the Netgear RT314 I am able to overcome both of these with little trouble.  First, the RT314 handles PPPoE on board.  Thus the computers in the home do not have to 'log in' to Verizon, or run any buggy PPPoE software (such as WinPoET), and it is thus an always "on" connection.  I am also not limited to just three PCs connected to the Internet at a time.  Next, I registered with DYNDNS to register my dynamic, always changing IP, so that I can still access the home with a URL such as: "http://cheung.????.com".  The RT314 handles this registration of new IP addresses automatically, so I do not have to run an updater client on any PCs in the home.  The upshot of all this is that I can walk up to any browser anywhere, and type "http://cheung.???.com", type in a password, and then have remote control and view the desktop of my home automation PC.

The Netgear router is nice because it is not just a hub, but a switch.  This reduces the network traffic that a connected PC sees to the minimum, and congestion is reduced considerably.  Also, since the router does Network Address Translation (NAT), it serves as the firewall for my network so that I can reduce the likelihood of a hacker intrusion.  I can therefore get away with not running firewall software on every PC (such as ZoneAlarm), further saving processing power.

Remote control is provided by VNC.  This free and awesome software allows the same thing that 'PCAnywhere' allows, but it is cross platform capable, very stable, and very small.  I can view and control the home control PC from anywhere in the home or over the internet.  In the latter case, functionality is handicapped by the upload speed of 90kbits/second.  This is still much faster than dialup, but if I were to upgrade, it would be to increase this speed.  Nevertheless, I can interactively communicate with the PC from outside the home, and it is very useable.

Since I installed a phone system with modular jacks, I can place a filter on the phone line as it enters the home.  This prevents having to route the high frequency DSL signal around the home to every phone, and should lead to the cleanest signal quality.


I would have liked to demonstrate the capability of remote controlling and connecting to my home with a link on this page, but the security risk is of course just too great.  Instead, to investigate getting DSL yourself, follow these links:

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