Sunday, September 29, 2013

Using a Cisco Router Running IOS with Bell Canada Business Internet DSL

Most of the small businesses I support have Cisco 800 or 1900 series ISR routers (running Cisco IOS).  And, in the US, I’ve never encountered this problem before with any of the various service providers I’ve dealt with (i.e. Verizon, Fairpoint, etc.).  However, in Canada, on routers with the same PPPoE client config loaded, same version of IOS and same router model, after the router or the DSL modem looses power, PPPoE and subsequently IPCP fails to re-establish the link (obtain the IP address from Bell’s server, etc.).  After one year of troubleshooting and being told by Bell tech support they don’t support Cisco routers or help with configuration of such routers, I was finally able to resolve this problem. 

The problem lies with the modem model supplied by the ISP.  Bell Canada ships by default the 2-Wire 2701 modem/router combo.  If their customers need to use their own Cisco routers (due to VPN requirements, etc.), this 2701 must be converted to a bridge.  Such instructions are not provided and customers are on their own to figure out how to do this.  I was able to do it following an article I found on a Google search.  However, something in this device prevents sending the PADI messages to the Bell network and/or receiving the PADO messages from the Bell PPPoE servers.  So, the result is the router isn’t able to obtain an IP address and finish establishing the WAN link.

It wasn’t until I escalated the issue to a senior executive that I was able to speak with a tier 3 technical support employee, who also wasn’t certain why my known good PPPoE config wasn’t working.  I provided a packet capture which showed my PADI messages sent, but not receiving any PADO messages from Bell.  So, the support engineer suggested shipping us a different DSL modem model.  We received a Speedstream 4200 that was already set in bridge mode (no router function was enabled), which is what we wanted initially!

As soon as the 4200 was connected, we didn’t have to reboot either the router or the modem, and connectivity was established immediately.  A reboot of the router, and a reboot of the modem produced the same immediate connectivity results.  Problem solved! 

NOTE- In all of Bell Canada’s documentation, chatting with a technician pre-sale, and on their website marketing materials, it shows their Business Internet product available with an optional static IP.  This is what we wanted (as opposed to a permanent IP address delivered by PPPoE/IPCP).  However, in reality, a static IP address simply isn’t something Bell offers.  I advised Bell that what they offer shouldn’t be called a “static IP”.  However, it remains to be seen if they will update their website and documentation.

For the record, here is my working PPPoE client config:

interface FastEthernet0/0/0
description BELL BUSINESS INTERNET ADSL / DOWN 8 Mbps / UP 670 Kbps
no ip address
duplex auto
speed auto
pppoe enable group global
pppoe-client dial-pool-number 1

interface Dialer0
bandwidth qos-reference 640
ip address negotiated
ip access-group ACL_INTERNET_TO_FA0_0_0 in
ip mtu 1492
ip inspect CBAC_SOURCE_LAN out
ip virtual-reassembly in
encapsulation ppp
ip tcp adjust-mss 1452
dialer pool 1
dialer-group 1
ppp authentication chap pap callin
ppp chap hostname
xxxx9000@bellnet.ca
ppp chap password 7 [removed]
ppp pap sent-username
xxxx9000@bellnet.ca password 7 [removed]
ppp ipcp dns request
ppp ipcp route default
ppp ipcp address accept
no cdp enable
crypto map CRYPTO_MAP
service-policy output PM_SHAPING

dialer-list 1 protocol ip permit

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