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SBC Wants To Switch DSL Format To PPPoE 326

Mr. Haplo writes: "Looks like SBC's at it again. According to this story, SBC wants to change everyone's DSL connection to PPPoE. The article goes on to say that the California Public Utilities Commission and the ISP Association are filing complaints against SBC and PacBell over this. It doesn't mention anything about SDSL connections, however, so I don't know what they'll do, if anything, about them. They do say that business services would be left alone, though, so I assume this means just about any SDSL services (I hope!). Someone needs to take a baseball bat to SBC's executives."
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SBC Wants To Switch DSL to PPPoE Format

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  • Yeah, you heard that right. ISP's can assign static addresses via PPPoE. I'll admit that it isn't as easy as with DHCP assigned addresses but it can be done. is already doing it for business customers and plans on doing for residential. I've also seen posts claiming PPPoE was a hack. Considering DHCP was designed to be used over a LAN using it for DSL in a bridged Ethernet over WAN mode makes PPPoE look like a MIL spec design. The fact is PPPoE scales better for the ISP. It makes it easier for them on several levels actually. I know it's fun and easy to bash ISP's and even more fun to bash telco's but sometimes what's good for them is actually good for us too. It creates some short term problems for people that have adapted to the crap that is DHCP over DSL. I would have preferred DHCP since it's easy to setup. I got a choice between PPPoE and PPPoA. I dumped the crappy Speedtouch USB modem, bought an old Alcatel 1000 off ebay, bought a netgear cable/dsl router because I needed IPSEC tunneling and I've been happy ever since. Adapt!
  • I've seen a lot of people talking about how their Linksys Cable/DSL modem hides the PPPoE.

    Unfortunately, Linksys does NOT support Linux. Even though the configuration is all done through a web browser, they do NOT support Linux. Even though the box says they support/require Netscape 4.x, the Linux version of Netscape does NOT qualify.

    I know this makes absolutely no sense. But this is what I was told by Linksys customer service when I was having problems with my Cable/DSL modem.

    My problem, incidently, was that I had javascript disabled (to kill all of the popups, popdowns, redirects to porn sites, etc.) and their pages lack the standard <noscript> clause to remind me to turn on javascript. This is apparently not a problem with MSIE, and the customer service person made it damn clear that my stupidity was why Linksys does NOT support Linux. I got the distinct impression that he would not be forwarding on my (polite) suggestion that adding that extra clause would reduce headaches for both of us.

    YMMV, and I don't understand this attitude since other Linksys products had prominent notes on their boxes that they do support Linux, but for some reason they decided to be real *******s to Linux users for this box. Keep that in mind if you're counting on using one of these boxes to hide the PPPoE conversion - there may be a long-term plan to ultimately support a protocol which requires a MS box to "unlock" the upstream connection.
    • They shipped a copy of TurboLinux with my DSL firewall/router. Not only that, but I didn't seem to have any issues with either Konqueror, Netscape, or Mozilla.

      Realize that customer support comprises some companies hiring clueful people and other companies farming it out to "support" companies that run by a script. Step outside the script, and blooey- you're not supported.

      It's WHY I rarely if ever call customer support.
      • Let me guess - your version is BEFSR41 V.1, right? I saw those boxes at CompUSA, but picked up a BEFSR41 V.2 instead so I could avoid an immediate update cycle. That's why I found it so incredible that Linksys customer support claimed that they don't support Linux for these boxes.

        I rarely contact customer support precisely because my problems never fit their scripts, but when the modem appeared to be non-responsive (I could modify a few pages, but hitting "submit" did nothing) I had no choice but to call customer support.

        Their incompetence made a five-minute problem ("turn on javascript") into a 3-hour ordeal as I followed their suggestion to load new firmware, something which required a TFTP client "enhanced" to support a password. Which meant it wasn't really TFTP, but I digress. I had to dig out and set up a Windows box to run the executable, etc.

        And the modem was still non-responsive. For this much invested time, I could have set up a Linux box as the firewall (which I was trying to avoid, primarily due to the extra power consumption.) That wasted time is why I was so pissed at their indifference.

        You're right that they might have just farmed out their support, but the bottom line is that they gave me bad advice, then tried to claim it was MY fault because I wasn't using an approved browser. That's a combination of indifference and arrogance that I refuse to support - I will not reward it with additional business.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Whoever reported this story didn't read it all the way. SBC provides the DSL telephone lines. They also offer an ISP service on the lines. They also allow other ISP's to use lease their lines to provide internet service from that third party company. The article says that they are considering changing the policy to make it so all the third party providers can only use PPPoE. The ISP part of SBC will still offer Static and PPPoE service. Yeesh.
  • i got a long email back from my provider - linkline communications (

    this link takes you to the email he sent me back... []

    in short.. he is looking for people to help fight back against the SBC on this one....

  • Humor me.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:43PM (#2112100)
    How is this a bad thing for customers? I'm nowhere close to being an expert, but it seems to me that customers benefit from not being identifiable by a static IP. Doesn't it enhance privacy? According to the article, "PPPoE schemes make it easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access by seizing or guessing at dynamic addresses." Huh? Is it any harder to 'seize or guess' at static IP's? Once they know a static IP, isn't it easier to attack a specific target, or 'mark a favorite' victim? Again, I'm no expert, it's just seems obvious to me. I'm also not what you would call a fan of Bell, so it's not like I'm looking to justify this. But when "competing ISP's and (the ever-elusive) experts," try to inform me, I get a little skeptical. Not to mention that InternetWeek's about page doesn't exactly strike me as consumer-oriented. Judging by the other comments, it seems to me like a benefit to customers is being weighed against inconvenience to business. And while I doubt Bell's motives are so pristine, forgive me for not being sympathetic.
    • Re:Humor me.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Joe Decker ( 3806 )
      but it seems to me that customers benefit from not being identifiable by a static IP...

      Can't speak for you, but I don't consider it a benefit to not be able to host a web server at a static IP, I don't consider it a benefit to have to buy a new router to hook up "non-standard" machines, and I don't consider it a benefit to lose my ability to run a decent VPN into my home systems. I am not a business, and having my existing systems broken out from under me would p' me off big time....

      ...had I not been battered enough by PacHell's incompetency with ISDN a few years back to figure out that my DSL provider should be someone clueful, like speakeasy.

      I cop to feeling smug.


    • no, a dynamic IP does nothing to really help... They scan for your system in a range of IP's, find you, hop on to you, tag your system (now no matter what IP you have they know where you are), and play w/you.

      Static IP's are a conveinience not a necessity. I don't personally believe that they should cost the large sums that most ISP's charge (the ones I have used don't charge much).

      I don't think that having PPPoE is a good thing personally, one more bit of overhead on a conjested network...

      If it will fix my 1000+ms pings to the gateway, I will love it. Otherwise, out w/the new, in w/the old.
    • The article was talking about corporations that want to allow only specific IP addresses to join their VPN. Imagine that you set up a news server only for your friends. Your friends mail you their IP addresses and you tell your firewall to only accept NNTP connections from those addresses. Now one of your friends is on PPPoE. You notice that his address is within a certain range, so you allow that entire range. You've increased the risk of an unauthorized connection.
      I agree with an earlier poster - SBC is looking to kill the 'value add' that competing ISP's offer and drag everyone down to their level. This will kill the other ISP's.
      The huge question which I'd like to ask these regulators is, "How could you let the Bells sell end-user internet service? Wasn't it obvious that they would exploit their privileged position to sabotage competitors?"
  • I have Pacbell DSL, and was given a client called Enternet I was told I would have to use to connect. Of course no such thing should be required for a goofy DSL connection. The client is Windows only (maybe mac too). All the Enternet client is, is a stupid PPPoe frontend. Lucky for me, my cheapy Netgear router is capable of PPPoe connections, so I let the router connect.
  • Grow up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stephenaa ( 311996 )
    Could you guys perhaps use an hour or so reading up on PPP, ATM, DSL technologies and the different issues an ISP will have to tackle in order to provide you with your beloved bandwidth? PPPoE isnt bad, PPPoE doesnt prohibit static IP. DHCP is not comparable with PPPoE. The comparison would have to be between PPPoE (over AAL5) (or PPP over AAL5) and IP over AAL5 the RFC1483 way. Compare the tree and decide what you would implement if you were to make money in that buisness and had to plan for 100.000+ customers. The only real viable solution is PPPoE over AAL5.
  • can I post? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    this is just a test. please ignore
  • If every DSL line provider had their way, unless you were paying a very pretty penny, they'd want to drop you in a PPPoE modem pool, give you a dynamic IP, and limit your line to as little as possible.

    The same thing is happening now with DSL that began to happen with modem dialup to the internet about six years ago. We began with a static IP address then, and we were always getting the best performance we could out of our 28.8 modem, because few people were connecting to the web. Suddenly when the influx of people started coming in (about a year and a half later), we were dropped into a modem pool and were often getting less-than-optimal transfer rates.

    Same thing's happening with DSL now. Our provider, Qwest, advertised 640K rates on their lines for about six months now on their most basic line access. Now, they've dropped the basic line back to 256K, even though their still delivering 640K to those who bought that line (though I don't know for how long...the service agreement said that they reserve the right to drop bandwidth at any time). All their other lines (with a static IP and guaranteed speeds) are getting about a %12 raise in price come August 7th.

    Now that broadband is starting to gain speed (finally), the DSL providers are finding that their profit margins are falling because they've promised too much to too many. Since there's nothing better offered for that kind of money at the moment (gosh darn it, where's satellite service when you need it most), they can get away with it, and they will.
  • by satch89450 ( 186046 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @02:04PM (#2115549) Homepage

    There is a saying among old telecom people: "If the telephone company were to sell sushi, they would advertise it as 'Cold, Dead Fish.'"

    SBC has once again proven this cold adage with its silence about the switchover from Virtual Circuit/Virtual Path routing of DSL to PPP Aggregation. Nothing on the SBC web site. Nothing from the "customer service" people. Nothing from the ISP, as they are in the dark as much as the customers. As the first northern Nevada customer of DSL (Nevada Bell) I'm facing this changeover and am not happy about it.

    The bottom line is that something has to change. The fact is, DSL provisioning is a crock bordering on kludge. To understand this assertion, let's take a look at the overall block diagram for DSL provision:

    1. The DSLAMs connect to an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network. In bridging mode (what I and many others in SBC-land who use an independent ISP have today) the data from the DSLAM port makes its way to the ISP using VC/VP channels that are nailed up. Once the circuit is nailed up, the number of CPU cycles required to switch 56-byte packets is very small indeed.

    2. The independent ISP offering DSL connectivity needs a circuit into the ATM network, which for all practical purposes means getting at least a DS3 and an appropriate ATM switch/router. Assuming 40 megabits/s per DS3, you can handle 104 users of 384/128 DSL service, or 27 users of 1.5/384 service, at a time. With 10x oversubscription (low rate) that's 1000 and 270 users. With 50x oversubscription, that's 5200 users. Or is it?

    3. ATM network was designed to handle relatively few channels at high speed. To this end, the address fields in ATM packets are short. With some horsing around, you can get about 1000 circuits per ATM link (and that DS3 counts as an ATM link). That means you cannot use a single channel for all customers. The actual ceiling is lower when you take into account routing problems, with a lower limit of about 250 channels.

    4. The net result is that if you are an ISP you have to have multiple DS3 channels when your user base grows above a certain level. At $5K/month a pop, this limits the ability of the ISPs to control costs per port, which would tend to keep prices high. This is bad for the customer because it keeps prices high, it's bad for the ISP because it keeps costs high, and it's not all that swift for the ILEC...

    5. Ever wonder why it takes so long to provision a bridging DSL circuit? One of the things I found out is that provisioning a single circuit requires an amazing amount of ATM network a process that is frankly broken. In the old days, BD (before DSL), the number of times the ATM network needed to be configured in a month could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and that hand could have taken a trip through a thresher or combine and still do the job. With the deployment of DSL, the fragility of the tools used to nail up circuits in the ATM network were exposed. There was a time when I could tell that Nevada Bell made another DSL sale: my DSL would stop working. The delay isn't in making the connections, it's finding open channels in every single link to use for the connection. Extensive bookkeeping.

    So SBC decided to move to Point-to-Point Protocol Terminated Aggregation, replacing the VP/VC architecture that is currently in use.

    So why didn't Ms. Semilof publish all this information? I wanted to know, and called her. She said that SBC wasn't forthcoming with information to give their side of the story. When I tried the usual press channels, I too got stonewalled. It took a call to a good buddy to get the information I need to generate the information showned above. Yep, once again SBC proves that the telephone companies don't know how to market.

    Let's look at some of the hot-button items that other people have mentioned in this discussion.

    Static IPs: The availability of a fixed IP address depends on how each particular ISP wants to handle things. If the ISP wishes to manage all aspects of authentication, Internet presence, and bandwidth control in the manner they do today, they can use L2TP tunneling over ATM to exchange traffic from user to ISP. The ISP's RADIUS server can serve up "sticky" IPs to emulate the static IP addresses many of us enjoy. It would be up to the customer to keep the PPPoE circuit alive if the customer is running servers at the CPE end of the circuit; not hard, but something on the list of things to do.

    MTU problems: PPPoE has a nasty habit of forcing a smaller MSS than anyone expects, because of the packet overhead of PPPoE itself. This has been dealt with in many places, and the solutions are pretty well known.

    Performance hits: Well, yes. Adding layers of protocol will cause slowdowns. There is another [active] router in the way, too. Expect ping times to go up. (Sorry, gamers, if you really want good ping time you will be forced to a T1 type solution.) Throughput will be affected, too, although I don't know by how much.

    ISP concerns: In the current situation, it's a real hassle to switch from one ISP to another. When I switched away from NBI to my current provider, the process took 7 days, 1 day of which my DSL was completely out. With the changeover to PPPoE, though, the only thing a customer has to do is change the PPPoE login sequence. The ISP never knows the customer is going away until s/he calls to close out the bill. I discount the cost problems associated with the switchover, although most ISPs are running such razor-thin margins that the couple of thousands of dollars this will cost them in new equipment will hurt, hurt, hurt. (The gain is that the ISP can increase the oversubscription rate and thus lower running costs, which makes that couple of thousand in equipment plus technician time an investment.) Another concern is the lost of VPN business, as PPPoE lets an enterprise participate so that telecommuters can log in directlywith the company during the day to work (bypassing the ISP), then log into the ISP at night to play.

    • aahhh, finally a voice of reason.
      One thing to note though:

      Expect ping times to go up. (Sorry, gamers, if you really want good ping time you will be forced to a T1 type solution.) Throughput will be affected, too, although I don't know by how much.

      Ping times are often strongly affected by dsl (vs. cable), not by pppoe per se. For dsl, some providers use "interleaving" on the way to the DSLAM, i.e. the data bits of one block are interleaved across several data packets. This "kills" latency, one gets around 50ms across 768/128 kb/s connections (vs 10ms). The additional PPPoE overhad might be only around 1-5ms. IIRC, there was a paper somewhere, one can calculate it, it's a bigger factor for smaller packets like for VoIP or video conferencing than for gaming.
    • Performance hits: Well, yes. Adding layers of protocol will cause slowdowns. There is another [active] router in the way, too. Expect ping times to go up. (Sorry, gamers, if you really want good ping time you will be forced to a T1 type solution.)

      What a positively stupid suggestion. What do you think DSL lines are used for by a large fraction of the people who have them? What do you suggest consumer Internet access ought to be optimized for? Only to push marketing information and ads onto consumers?

      If PPPoE leads to unacceptable delays during game play (and I'm not saying that it does), the company requiring it isn't satisfying customer demand. If they can get away with it, it's because they have a local monopoly.

      The justifications for PPPoE you give seem largely ATM related. Well, too bad. SBC made a stupid investment in ATM. They should throw out that equipment and replace it with something better designed and more modern. Equipment that runs more modern protocols over the same wires is available.

  • by RasputinAXP ( 12807 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:12PM (#2115900) Homepage Journal
    I've always had PPPoE service.

    From Verizon.

    And it doesn't suck.

    Millions of /.'ers gasp in astonishment.

    I mean, I use a Linksys router that has the PPPoE firmware installed. This means that i have a static IP anyway as the router uses a Keepalive and is never turned off. This is almost no different from DHCP. If your machine is not connected when the address is renewed, you don't get that IP address. Period.

    Static IP's I can understand, but the people who really need them can pay for them. *GASP!* Heresy!

    Yes, low-cost high bandwidth is what we want, but not necessarily what we will get. Yet. As I'm fond of saying, Joe Q. User who buys Compaqs at Best Buy with WinME installed will think nothing of a PPPoE connection. And that's if he even goes beyond his 53.3K POTS connection.

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    • Well, yah, it doesn't suck -- unless you want to join a VPN. Suddenly the address of your router (used in configuring the remote side) is dynamic, so it's necessary to have the far side of the VPN willing to consider talking to anyone in your whole address block.

      For the fellow who wants to be able to occasionally work from home, but doesn't otherwise need a business-class connection, this /sucks/ -- particularly if the IT staff is paranoid about the VPN box's firewall configuration.
      • If the VPN-product is well-configured, and secured by a good method (public/private key pair), there is little or nothing to gain by limiting the access to the VPN server to a few private IP's.

        Unless you're using the IP address as sole authentication --in which case you deserve to be spanked mercilessly-- having a dynamic IP is a non-issue.

        Even with VPN, road warriors should have very restricted capabilities, since the chances that their (personal) workstations get compromised are much bigger, and can have pretty big consequences if they have unlimited access on the internal network. IT staff should focus on keeping these PC's secured in stead of nagging about limited IP access to the VPN server.

        • Well, yes, you're right, *in theory*.

          However, having a firewall which only allows the VPN box to recieve any packets from approved machines prevents not only attacks on the VPN product, but also any other vulnerabilities which the thing may have. Thus, it's still a good policy, and Just Makes Sense.

          As for restricting road warriors' access -- the idea is quite attractive, until one takes into account that in many positions (ie. engineering) a great deal of access is needed to do *anything*. Admittedly, it would be quite possible (and perhaps a good idea) to keep a telecommuting engineer out of the sales or marketing systems -- but as we're planning to have a single integrated system for sales, marketing and bugtracking, that suddenly becomes a bit less plausable.

  • Bellsouth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kireK ( 254264 )
    I'm with Bellsouth, and get PPPeO. Other than a few problems with the Ethernet out of the box it wirks. I get a new IP every 24 hours... and no chance of static IP. I wish I could get an "enhanced" service for $65 a month, and get a bridged service with a small segment (/29 maybe). For SBC folks that are complaining... it could be worse.
  • Dirty tricks... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dex22 ( 239643 ) <> on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:15PM (#2117383) Homepage
    This is nothing compared to what they've done before. I used to work for a regional ISP that resold SWB's DSL. They gave us access to their prequalification tools, which we used to assess availability of services when someone enquired
    It would give results as green, orange or red. Most often it came up red.
    We didn't think anything of this until we started getting phone calls. It turned out almost everyone who came up red would get a postcard from SWB within two weeks telling them about this wonderful new DSL service that had just become available in their area.
    We refused to sell SWB DSL after that point on principle.
    • Re:Dirty tricks... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OmegaDan ( 101255 )
      GTE did similiar tricks. I knew a few guys who ran a ISP in my small town 5 years before GTE started theirs (in our area atlest). Once their service was ramped up, they changed the ISP's dialup number to long distance, and the 2000 customers of the ISP got a 1000$ phone bill for the month -- when you called to have it corrected they would suggest "you know this would never happen with GTE internet service ..."

      Later the same year GTE shut off their leased line serveral times with no explanation, the longest "outage" was almost a week and ended when the ISP threatened to sue the local GTE office -- 30 mintues later it was miraculously working ...

      These antics cost the isp about half of its customer base over the course of a year.

  • PPPoE will reduce your data transfer rates because you have to use some of your bandwidth for the PPP header information. Every time you encapsulate your transmissions in a new protocol, you loose some performance, because you must process the protocol headers, and the headers for each protocol eat up bandwidth.
  • I don't really understand what the outrage is about. Sure, PPPoE is a hack, you lose 1% of your expensive bandwidth to useless control information, and dialing up on a connection advertised as "always on" is pretty damn lame. In practical terms, however, it's not the monster some readers here make it out to be. I've had a Verizon PPPoE line for over a year now, with alternately a BSD or an NT box happily keeping a 24/7, always on, no user intervention required connection used by a number of other machines on the home LAN. No "router firmware" someone mentioned, no "manually dialing up", no "waiting for the browser to open the first page", no problems.

    I think the real issue here is simply the hurt pride that comes with being forced by a monopolistic provider to use an overtly dumbed-down consumer solution and knowing that it could have been - and was, for a short time - better. I'd, however, take a 1.5M PPP link over a 53k one any day and not be too bitter about it considering the improved price/performance ratio. :)
  • by Phaid ( 938 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:37PM (#2119291) Homepage
    I use an SBC DSL line with a third-party ISP, and I know the people who run this ISP, so I actually know what I'm talking about. The reason SBC wants to force everyone to use PPPoE is simple: they want to take away all the advantages that third party ISPs can give to customers.

    My ISP doesn't use PPPoE, and they give everyone a static IP address. These two features, along with the fact that this ISP has several upstream providers (unlike SBC, which has exactly one) and is run by competent and knowledgeable staff, is what makes it an attractive alternative to the local SBC ISP. If you go with SBC's ISP, you have to settle for PPPoE regardless, and they charge an additional 40 bucks a month for a static IP.

    With the new ISP contracts SBC is forcing everyone to use, third party ISPs won't be allowed to give out static IP's. Yes, it's technically feasible to do so, but SBC won't let them. So there will be fewer reasons for anyone to go with a third party ISP.

    It's a great model: rather than adding features to your own product, just take away features from your competitor's.
    • they don't want to cannibalize their leased line business. If you want to run a server, they want you to have a T1, not a DSL line at a fraction of the price.
    • I agree with this completely. I also use SBC DSL through a third party ISP, and I also know the people who run the ISP. They are basically saying the same things. PacBell makes things as difficult for them as they can get away with.

      Right now, I am paying around $10/month more to go through the third party ISP, but I get 1) a static IP, 2) MUCH better service (I can get the tech guys on the phone instantly, and they actually know what they are talking about), 3) a larger allocation on their web server for my web page than I would get with PacBell (I don't want to hasle with my own server even though I have DSL).

      If they are forced to go PPPoE, it will remove one of these advantages, but the others will remain.
  • I've been a residential DSL user in Florida since April 2000 (Bellsouth). At installation, the company offered me what was available then: a bridged DSL connection using ethernet and dhcp. With a couple of minor exceptions, the link has been rock solid since the day they turned it on. (My downlink speeds hang in the 1.2Mb range...very fast)

    This is in contrast to a large number of subscribers added to the system since, who have had to use PPPoE and USB-based DSL modems. Combined with sometimes abysmal on-site installations and questionable technical support, it's been less than fun for those people. Add on this the lack of support for Linux/FreeBSD/OpenBSD/similar systems (and even problems with Windows 2000 as well). It ain't been easy, esepcially for the less technically adept. Things are supposed to be improving, however...

    I've heard rumors about a switch from bridged to PPPoE service throughout the area, but it hasn't materialized yet. In fact, you can still get a bridged setup if you're willing to pay for the external modem (or buy one) and the extra fee for a truck roll and installation on site.

    The address assignment systems seems pretty fair: the dhcp server on their network does a renewal about every 12 hours. IPs don't change often, but it's not an issue for me.

    I don't know if this will become an issue here (yet) as many of the independent DSL providers have gone the way of all flesh since the dotcom purges last year.

    But, I still get nervous when another big bell does this kind of thing, as I fear it will give mine evil ideas.

  • Really, someone must have had their head screwed on a little less than tight with this one. PPPoE is a nice idea, and it's in fact a really clever hack, BUT IT'S NOT A GOOD METHOD OF CONNECTION. It's a clever hack in the same way that PPP-over-SSH is a clever VPN tactic, but if I were to suggest to my boss that we use PPP-over-SSH for the VPN on our corporate network I'd be laughed out of his cube. I don't know why some DSL companies (*cough Verizon cough*) think that this is a good idea over normal DHCP. In the meantime, I think I'll stick with the 10 static IPs that will allow me with my home service using a normal ethernet router, thank you.
    • I don't know why some DSL companies (*cough Verizon cough*) think that this is a good idea over normal DHCP.

      Because it doesn't get in the way of an existing DHCP network. Really. It shouldn't get in the way of existing PPPoE networks, but since many PPPoE stacks are set to accept any server, I expect they actually will by default.

      So imagine you have a bunch of machines at home set up to use DHCP, some of them would like to reach the global internet, others don't (say, your printers), and all of them would like to be pointed at your local printers, and your local nameservers. You can do that with DHCP. Unless you get a DSL connection from someone who insists on sending DHCP replies out that point everyone at the global net, and don't set printers, and set the wrong nameservers, and...

      Plus you can use two (or more) PPPoE providers on the same ethernet, which is very hard to do with DHCP-based DSL.

      The down side is stacks didn't evolve as fast as thought (in part because someone dumb in management at one of the companies that wrote the RFC didn't allow the implementations to be shared freely). It also has an MTU slightly (2 bytes?) smaller then straight ethernet, which was needed to allow multiple sessions on the same ethernet.

      If I want to do anything the least bit complex I would fr rather have PPPoE. If I don't want to think at all DHCP is a slight edge.

      It seems odd that so many slashdot readers want the not-thinking solution, but I guess DHCP is the older protocol, and it almost solves the problem, so hey, everyone's got it in their heads that it is better.

      Think about it this way, it does a job DHCP can't quite do, basically the same job L2TP does, but with 150 pages less RFC (then L2TP). The PPPoE RFC is also shorter then DHCP, but I wouldn't expect that to be a big deal because a modern system will need both, but can get away with skiping L2TP because PPPoE exists.

      • It could be because there's other, better ways of dealing with those problems that doesn't translate into slower MTUs and non always-on connection (If they run PPPoE, do you honestly believe they're leaving the link up with that assigned IP?).

        DHCP works fine and in the context of what you're describing, anyone could set up their routers and DHCP system with minimal effort to achieve the same task and have to expend only as much effort as you would with the PPPoE solution (most likely less, if you think about it).

        Multiple PPPoE providers? On the same Ethernet? You won't see that sort of thing happening with DSL- the system's not set up that way. You're given this segment that ties into an ATM cloud that shuttles your traffic, no matter whether or not you're a bridging or a PPPoE customer, to its specified destination. There isn't an ethernet segment there except at the endpoints of the system.
        • doesn't translate into slower MTUs and non always-on connection (If they run PPPoE, do you honestly believe they're leaving the link up with that assigned IP?)

          The only PPPoE setup I had anything to do with didn't down the link unless the other end failed to return the link state pings. So the connection was up unless your end gets turned off for a while (like say a laptop being suspended for 10 minutes).

          DHCP works fine and in the context of what you're describing, anyone could set up their routers and DHCP system with minimal effort to achieve the same task and have to expend only as much effort as you would with the PPPoE solution (most likely less, if you think about it).

          I don't think so, and nobody mentioned any such way during PPPoE's working group stage, or at the IETF before it became a RFC. Nobody has drafted a working document since either.

          Minimal effort, some hosts that don't want to be on the global internet, some that do. Bonus points if you can get more then one DHCP-DSL connection to work at once.

          Would you like to do it now? Your going to have to add another machine in most cases to filter out the DHCP replies you don't want, and to route between the two sets of IP addresses (outside and inside), or assume you can already do that (hosts that support ethernet IP aliases can, many hosts can't -- some like OSX should, but won't).

          Now, you can argue that PPPoE solves problems that don't need to be solved, but you sure can't argue that DHCP solves those problems. PPPoE was written (at least in part) by three very smart and very lazy people. They would have done the simpler task of nothing at all if DHCP would have worked.

          Multiple PPPoE providers? On the same Ethernet? You won't see that sort of thing happening with DSL- the system's not set up that way. You're given this segment that ties into an ATM cloud that shuttles your traffic, no matter whether or not you're a bridging or a PPPoE customer, to its specified destination.

          You are quite wrong. It was tested in the lab down the hall from my office.

          The DSL "modems" in question (they either had copper in their name, or rocket, or both) forwarded all PPPoE negotiation packets to the far end, and any PPPoE packets that were for a session established through them. However I guess some DSL "modems" could forward all packets (well, no more then 10% of them with a 1Mbit DSL pipe and a 10Mbit ethernet), or all PPPoE ethertypes regardless of session ID, which probably violates the RFC. I do know for sure that at least one gets it right.

  • I'm surprised at how clueless some comments are here on slashdot. Obviously, a lot of people complaining about PPPoE have never used it. I've been using PPPoE for over a year now, on a 1mbit DSL line provided by Sympatico (canadian ISP).

    First, PPPoE allows uses of multiple IP addresses over a single modem. Kinda like what you get with a PPtP VPN. Not hard to do either. Plug the DSL modem in a switch/hub. Plug computers in said hub. Have each comp make a PPPoE connection. Each gets a separate ip.

    As for the ip not being static... Well if you have a router that has PPPoE support in the firmware, and always leave it plugged, you indeed get a pretty static ip. I've been connected for months in a row and my ip never changed.

    Some other people were complaining about... overhead! Now get serious. The overhead is so near zero that it's not in ANY way perceptible. Unless maybe you have a Gigabyte connection. My 1Mbit DSL always download at around 126k/s, which is the line's max throughput. Ok, in theory it's 128k/s, but I doubt many people would notice a 1k/s difference. And I'm not even sure it's caused by the PPPoE protocol, it might just be the line.

    The only problem I've had with PPPoE is that it doesn't work for software that tries to communicate directly with your ethernet port. nmap is an example of this. It's extremely rare occurance though.

    PPPoE isn't a bad solution for the user, really. Just the simplicity for having multiple computers with their own ip over the DSL is worth it for most users with more than one comp. And if the ISP is reliable, you'll keep your ip for months. I think most people are complaining just because it makes them feel nice to complain. Well... this is slashdot after all.
    • As for the ip not being static... Well if you have a router that has PPPoE support in the firmware, and always leave it plugged, you indeed get a pretty static ip. I've been connected for months in a row and my ip never changed.

      It's either static, or it's dynamic. It can't be pretty one or the other.

      User: "Your web-site is down."
      Owner: "Yeah, my IP changed this morning and I haven't been able to update my DNS records."


      Sorry, I love my Static IP with Telocity and I love how they don't care waht I do with my connection.

      You guys can talk about how happy you are with your PPPoE -- and I'm glad you are -- but I've had a static IP with an always on connection for $49 per month and I'm not going back to a dynamic IP with Dial-On-Demand access.
  • I've DSL from SWB for over a year and it's always been PPPoE.
  • Not good. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 )
    PPPoE requires a separate piece of software to run to establish the connection. WinPOET is one of them on Windows.

    It doesn't allow static IPs, which is a pain.

    While my system at home is a cable modem; my coworkers are having lots of problems with our corporate IPSec software if they run PPPoE.

    PPPoE is acceptable for the majority of the unwashed masses. However, if you want to do anything really creative (and have an inkling of what you are doing) it starts to really get in the way.

    • PPPoE is acceptable for the majority of the unwashed masses. However, if you want to do anything really creative (and have an inkling of what you are doing) it starts to really get in the way.

      Such as?

      PPPoE connections are the same as any other network connections, you just use, gasp, PPP. I have PPPoE and I cannot think of ONE THING I cannot do on the net that someone without PPP can.

      -- iCEBaLM
      • One of the reasons why I got broadband was so I didn't have to deal with dialing up & logging on every time I wanted to web surf. With cable internet, the connection's always on, I just fire up my browser & go. PPPoE reverses that - it forces users to log in if they want to surf the web. What a pain.

        For all the sysadmins out there. Is there a genuinely good reason to set up a network with PPPoE rather than just letting them use ordinary ethernet, cable modem or DSL networking? It just sounds retarded to me.

    • Re:Not good. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @01:37PM (#2116338)
      While my system at home is a cable modem; my coworkers are having lots of problems with our corporate IPSec software if they run PPPoE.

      That sounds like you bought crappy software and didn't check it out before you bought it. IPSec works just fine over PPP and PPPoE. In fact, it shouldn't even be messing with the PPP frames, just like it shouldn't be messing with the Ethernet frames. It shouldn't know or care what it is being run over. It playes with TCP frames, nothing else. If it was then it is a problem with the IPSec software, not PPPoE. PPPoX, Ethernet, ATM, etc, should all work at the lowest level, the IPSec should be in the lowest level of the IP stack. Don't blame PPPoE because your software sucks.

      By and large I've used PPPoE for about a year now, and have never had a problem doing anything "creative". Maybe you'd just prefer a regualar old, ethernet connection, which is your choice. But no one ever gets what the choose. The system provides you with a routable IP address and a place for the IP Packets to flow through, which is all you really needed to talk to the rest of the world. If you need anything else to be creative, then something is drasticly wrong.
    • WinPoet works with static IP addresses. It all depends on your ISP, and whether they associate your login with a static IP address (i.e. a good ISP) or just grab an IP from a pool (i.e. tightwad fucking loser money grubbing clueless ISP).

      There are drivers for Macintosh, Linux, Solaris, and most of the windoze line. For *nux, I'd recommend Roaring Penguin [] which is just a simple protocol wrapper for existing PPP drivers. Instead of specifying a serial TTY port, use the pty option of pppd to pipe to a process. Simple. Discussion groups here []. And IPSec shouldn't care about PPPoE, but I would suspect that typical (i.e. buggy as shit) windoze versions get confused by new device drivers.

      PPPoE is pretty common all across Europe. This is because we have monopoly telcos (just like SBC, but with even less ethics) who refuse to allow wireline access to customers. So they aggregate all the DSL connections into Broadband Access Servers, and feed the resulting IP stream to the ISPs based on the CHAP logon. This allows a resemblance of competition, while still taking their cut of the profits. And it allows the telcos to promote their own services ahead of all competitors, and of course their provisioning software works only on their own ISPs systems, and all competitors have to constantly update and hopefully not lose too many customers because the provisioning protocol changes every Monday morning *cough*FraudTelecom*cough*BilgeCom*cough*. [rantmode=off]

      If the article is correct about only allowing dynamically assigned IPs, they you are fuckt. Take the article with a grain of salt, because there are enough other factual errors I think the author pulled a bunch of facts out of his ass. If SBC behaves like telcos in Europe, they'll just pass the PPPoE stream to the ISP, and if the ISP wants to offer static IP addresses, no problem. Over here, some give static IPs for no extra cost, others charge as much as US$100 per month on top of the ISP fee.

      the AC
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:21PM (#2133874)
    I just became a SWB DSL customer (it's a lot cheaper than ISDN, which I'll be turning off soon). Their "basic" ($49.95) service does PPPoE; their "advanced" ($64.95) gives you plain old Ethernet framing and 5 static IPs. (/29, your router gets the address right below the broadcast address). Oddly, upload speeds were much faster with the Basic service; apparently it's not rate-capped (at least in my area, a newly-wired part of St. Louis), while "advanced" is (I'm paying for 384/128, and getting about 1.5M/170).

    This looks to me like a way for Bell to squeeze ISPs out of their "advanced" market. I suspect that that will then be followed by a price hike. Sigh.

  • by egomaniac ( 105476 ) on Sunday August 05, 2001 @12:17PM (#2152197) Homepage
    I have a Linksys router (Etherfast Cable/DSL) which makes it pretty seamless. When I first try to pull up a web page, it takes a few seconds as the router connects, and then after that it's fine. That's all there is to it.

    I would absolutely despise PPPOE if I had to manually initiate a connection every time I wanted to do something, but having your router connect on demand for your entire home network mostly eliminates the pain.
    • by kindbud ( 90044 )
      I have a Linksys router (Etherfast Cable/DSL) which makes it pretty seamless.

      Me too, and it still blows chunks. The only advantage is not having to use that stupid dialup thing.

      When I first try to pull up a web page, it takes a few seconds as the router connects, and then after that it's fine. That's all there is to it.

      I bought this new car, and although I have to push it down the street to get it started, once the engine turns over, it's fine.

      PPPoE gets rid of one of the features of DSL that has been advertised: ALWAYS ON. Bullshit. PPPoE, no matter how fast the client negotiates, is NOT always on.

      • I'm using Earthlink DSL to run an Xwindows session to a university box. Three times in the past 48 hours I have had my sessions clobbered by an address change. I'm with you that at least I'm not running that crappy WinPoet stuff..
        • How the heck do they change your IP while your PPPoE session is running??

          I didn't think PPP or PPPoE allowed an address change on the fly.

          Are they just terminating the PPPoE session every so often? In a sense, giving you a micro-outage every so often (during which time they change the IP).

          Another question for anyone that knows. Are any of these dynamic PPPoE ISPs limiting hours per month / refusing PPPoE reconnects at times?

      • This is completely off topic (and is likely to be moderated as such), but that sig made me laugh out loud. And I'm not easily amused.

        For those that have sigs turned off:
        Spews from birds: Stuff that splatters.

        All you need now is a name for your new scatalogical forum...
  • I have installed quite a few dsl lines PPPoE and normal, all through Pacbell. PPPoE is used by ISPs to gain greater control over the services they offer their customers. The bad kind of control.

    To paste some junk from the maker of the PPPoE client that SBC uses:

    "It also allows for ISPs to resell the same line multiple times"


    "Instead of having the connection automatically occur when your computer boots (using DHCP to obtain an address), you will have to connect using Access Manager"

    like a f-ing dialup.

    "When you are finished, or when you've been idle for an undisclosed period of time, the client will (or might) disconnect you and you will need to reconnect to use the Internet again"

    in the middle of a download and disconnected again.

    "The definition of the protocol points to a 5-10% decrease in bandwidth"

    I can promise you it is worse than that. 5% to 10% for an even spread of packet sizes but during a download, when packet sizes are at their largest, each one gets cut in half with additional header and footer information added.

    I have never seen better than 65k/s on pacbell ISP using pppoe. ADSL using pac bell for the wire but a competeing isp is able to reach 170k/s from the same location

    The process of changing ISPs was a year long horror because Pacbell is not reqired to sell the piece of copper running to your house to a third party since the contingencies of the telecommunications act of 1996 have expired.

    Here is how to bypass that:

    Without ever warning pacbell that you will change ISPs, have a second normal phoneline installed. Have an independent ISP set up DSL on that line through pacbell by normal means. Cancel Pacbell's DSL and have your old phone number translated to the new line. Cancel service on your old phoneline. Nasty. Expencive. Great non-pacbell DSL.

    I think the pacbell execs must think PPPoE is saving them money somehow. So instead of dropping it and becoming competitive, They are playing like the monopoly they are.
  • Someone needs to take a baseball bat to SBC's executives.

    I didn't know they had a league...

    • I've been thinking a wood chipper myself. Feet first. With the motor at its slowest setting. About six hours after being forced to drink a glass of hydrofluoric acid. Make it twelve hours.
  • The (SM) tagline for one common (it's not 'popular' but is commonly used) PPPoE client on Windows is "Preserving the Dial-Up Experience" because it force the xDSL user to continue with Dial-Up Networking versus "Always On" seamless Internet. I guess their researchers found that users (AOL'ers, perhaps) were confused with not having to connect before surfing the 'Net/Chat rooms. Or, perhaps, it was an excuse for the problem. I don't know, or care.

    To me the (SM) is analogous to some early automobile manufacturer selling autos with reins instead of a steering wheel/gas pedal combination and claiming to be "Preserving the Giddy-Up Experience."

    Thanks. But, no thanks.

    Nicely, though, PPPoE under Linux is seamless (to the user) once setup and part of the normal boot sequence. This leads me to consider an alternative (SM) for Linux: "Out with the old, in with the Gnu!".

  • A dynamic IP address may be less convenient for server applications, but most consumer DSL contracts prohibit those already anyway, and most ADSL lines make them impractical. The security arguments don't hold water: there is no reason why outgoing connections from a static IP address are any more secure than outgoing connections from a dynamic IP address. In fact, I'd say the opposite is true: a dynamic IP address gives you a greater degree of privacy and means that attackers have a harder time finding your system again. Furthermore, PPPoE would still allow you to use a static IP address if your ISP gives you one.
  • The problem is not PPPoE. The problem is that SBC is trying to force ISPs to stop using static IP addresses.

    Here's how DSL works. The phone company provides a line, a DSL modem, and some equipment in the central office. Using whatever protocol they want, they establish a connection between your modem and their equipment. It looks like an ethernet connection to your computer.

    The phone company equipment in the central office is connected to your ISP, typically over the phone company's ATM network. The packets to and from your DSL modem are encapsulated and sent via ATM.

    Note that is is all happening at a lower level than IP. Your IP address comes from your ISP. The phone company is not involved at the IP level, any more than they are when you use you regular modem over your phone line.

    What SBC is doing is telling the ISP that they must use PPPoE, and they must not provide static IP addresses.

    To put this in pre-DSL terms, this would be like the phone company telling your ISP that your ISP was not allowed to support SLIP...all dialup customers must be on PPP.

    If you are using SBC as your ISP, this is fine. If, however, you are using some other ISP, and SBC is just providing the below-IP-level connection, it is none of their damn business what protocol you and the ISP agree to use over that connection, and it is certainly none of their business how your ISP allocates IP addresses.

  • Perhaps my view is somewhat skewed. I've had limited experience with DSL, and I haven't read the RFCs. If anyone with more of a clue cares to correct my notions, I invite them to do so.

    In my area, Ameritech offers two kinds of end-user equipment. One is a DSL "router" which uses DHCP, performs NAT and includes a 4-port 10mbps ethernet hub, from Efficient. The other is a DSL "modem" which talks PPPOE to the customer's PC, and is made with the Westell mark.

    The router works just as one might expect. It has a reasonably complete command line interface, allowing a fair amount of creativity with forwarded ports and other simple router tricks. I do not know what is involved with its initial setup, as Ameritech does this themselves. I also do not know if it is possible to use it without any NAT at all. And I've got no idea what the transport layer back to the DSLAM consists of.

    And I just don't care. It works well.

    The DSL "modem" is just like any other modem. POTS into one jack, serial into another. Except in this case, that serial data is encapsulated into ethernet frames. So what?

    It talks PPP, quite obviously. I'm using the Roaring Penguin software, with superb reliability. On 160/768 ADSL, I see a few percent of CPU usage on an absolutely horrible Cyrix MII firewall/NAT box under one of the 2.2 linux kernels. If such a meager amount of CPU time can't be spared (and, according to some of you, it's impossible), I guess you've already got your priorities in line and need a router of some form to offload the task. Nevermind that the cute perl script you whacked together to paste together fragments of porn from usenet, the cause of all the bandwidth usage, is already eating more CPU than that.

    This latter arrangement also sports a dynamic IP address. Who cares? It was trivial to have the address updated automagically on one of the dynamic DNS services. It's also at the whim of the ISP - I'm sure that I could get a static IP, if I wanted one. It's certainly not an issue of the capabilities of PPP, but more of a social thing. I've had a static IP PPP dialup nailed up at home for years, without an ounce of trouble. If the connection drops, it reconnects. Things then continue where they left off, like it never happened.

    PPP also supports routing entire networks, or subnetworks, or whatever. If you want a /29 or somesuch, have your ISP provision you one. If they won't, you again have a social problem, not a technological problem.

    Which is to say that PPPOE is just as capable as anything else DSL, given some sort of router. Is the need for a router at home something new to this world of supposed geeks? Stop whining and fire up ipchains, natd, ipfwadm, or a pretty box that says Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, ZyXEL, or some other such name.

    People complain that PPPOE links aren't always-on. Of course they aren't. NOTHING in this world is.

    Deal with it. The PPPOE-connected linux firewall does justfine handling such things as bringing the connection back in the event of it dropping. It takes seconds. It happens infrequently enough that I don't notice unless I'm looking at logs.

    This stuff works over a pair of amazingly thin copper wires, strung crazily around the streets at the whim of city leaders, and operated by the telephone company. Nevermind that the design specification for these wires is 300-3,000Hz, and that DSL in any incarnation is an ugly fucking hack to begin with. It's amazing it works at all. And you want perfection?

    This change is so fucking insubstantial to the way things work in practise that it's absolutely laughable to see so many people upset about it. When's the last time you had a network problem, and found PPP (over -any- medium) to be at fault?

    Get a life. Stop whining. Even if PPPOE -does- incur a real performance hit, you'll never notice. And if you do notice, and still care, and still feel like whining about insignificant things, find something else. Vote with your wallet. Show those money-grubbing assholes as SBC just how you want to be treated.

    You can have your T1 (and pay for it, too).
  • The basic problem with the way DSL works in the US is that the DSL connection has to be backhauled from the telco's central office to an ISP somewhere. Several ways of doing this exist, all of which are a pain to set up.

    This arrangement was supposed to foster competition, and it did. Despite the fact that few of the DSL ISPs are making money, allowing DSL competition forced telcos to offer DSL whether they wanted to or not. Without this, we'd all be waiting for the installation of a future generation of CO switches with DSL built into every line card. The present setup is hokey and only sort of works, but it forced deployment.

    There's always the interesting question of where the backhauled portion of the connection actually goes into the Internet. If your ISP is far away, your packets may be transported a long distance before they hit the backbone. I'm amused to see 100ms ping times between me and, because my DSL line is physically terminated in the central office next door to AltaVista's data center. Yahoo is only 20ms away.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde