A look at a pair of Ethernet DSL bridges

By Steve Antonoff, ITworld.com |  Networking

As Ethernet devices, both of these boxes connect with a category 5 unshielded twisted
pair (CAT5UTP) cable. The ZyXEL is configured to connect to a hub so it uses a
straight-through cable to connect to a hub/switch or a cross-over to connect directly
to a network interface card (NIC) on the computer. Alcatel is the other way: it uses a
cross-over to connect to a hub/switch and a straight-through cable to connect to a
NIC. The documentation that came with the ZyXEL was very clear on this matter. The
physical documentation that came with the Alcatel was non-existent since it was
installed by a BELLSouth technician (their requirement). However, the documentation
downloaded from the Alcatel site was
very clear and defined both uses.

Both devices come with a "default" IP address. The Alcatel is normally set to
10.0.0.138, the ZyXEL uses 196.168.1.1. Neither of these addresses conflict with
anything on my network, so plugging the boxes into the network wasn't a problem.
However, if these addresses are in use on your network, be careful when you install:
you'll need to set up a private network to connect to the box and change its IP address
before you plug it into the main network.

One of the big advantages (to me, anyway) of Windows 2000 over Windows NT is you don't
have to reboot Win2K when you change or add an IP address. With that in mind, I added
an address in the appropriate subnet for each device and tried to establish
communications.

The ZyXEL Prestige 642M uses a Telnet interface to configure it. The bridge also has a
serial port, which I didn't use. After adding a 192.168.1.x address to my NIC, I
started a telnet program (TeraTerm Pro, a freeware program, is my favorite) and
connected to the bridge. The password prompt appeared and I used the default password
(provided in the documentation) to connect. The first thing I did was change the
password. Then I changed the IP address to an address compatible with my network. The
menu driven interface was easy to use. There are some entries that you really don't
want to play with but, if you do, ZyXEL was kind enough to include a recessed "RESET"
button on the back of the box that will reset the box to factory defaults. While I
looked around in every menu option the only places I made any changes were in the
password and IP address section. After that, I plugged the DSL into the ZyXEL, started
the Enternet 300 software, defined a connection and I was on the BellSouth network
using a device they refuse to support.

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