Telus Optik Sechelt: It is undeniable, Telus is sweeping the Sunshine Coast with their latest offering of Telus Optik TV / Internet Bundles. Anecdotally, we are seeing at least half of our customers switching to Telus from Eastlink (the only other major ISP on the Sunshine Coast, BC).
As first reported in the Coast Reporter, the Telus Optik system is fast, reliable, and competitively priced.
Telus Pricing: Serious Savings
Taking all the different bundles into account, some have reported savings of between $350 and $600 per year as compared to Eastlink’s bundled deals. On top of these annual savings, Telus is sweetening the deal with free 42″ TV’s, free HP laptops, and $50 cash back if you sign-up a friend. From a monthly price perspective, Telus has Eastlink beat.
It is no wonder people are switching to Telus.
What is surprising to me is that Eastlink is doing absolutely nothing to combat the conversion; no special deals are being offered, no incentives to stay are being proposed, and no attempt to retain their customer base is being made. While I applaud Eastlink’s non-argumentative approach to a switching customer’s request to cancel service, it would be nice if they at least made a token effort to keep the customer interested in staying.
All this being said, the switch to Telus is not one to be made lightly. Especially if you are a business.
As we are fielding a daily barrage of questions regarding the switch to Telus, I thought I would summarize some of our observations and note the areas in which you should be concerned.
These are not necessarily arguments against Telus, and they are not to be misconstrued as a pro-Eastlink rant, but rather, they are points to consider.
Telus Contract: Hmmph!
We had Telus at a previous location, and we were signed up for one of those 3 year contracts. We bought a house and moved and unfortunately our destination location did not have Telus high-speed available.
Telus considered this a breach of contract, as we were cancelling our service at the original location. We were issued a $300 “early cancellation charge”. I know I probably could have fought the charge, but speaking for 15 hours to someone with a frontal lobotomy is simply not worth the $300. Exactly as Telus would have it.
The net effect is that I have personal experience with these 3 year contracts and get a very real cringe even thinking of them.
So a 3 year contract? No thank you.
Telus Equipment: The Weakest Link for Your Business
As I’ve written before (Eastlink vs. Telus Internet), my fundamental aversion to Telus continues to be based on a much more pragmatic issue than that of price vs. value, or of splitting hairs on declared speeds, or of balking at long term contracts.
My primary concern with Telus continues to be that their equipment, and the restrictions they place on that equipment, is not appropriate to commercial operations.
For home, residential customers, Telus Optik equipment is great. Fill yer boots.
For businesses, Telus Optik equipment is poor at best, and costly and dangerous at worst.
My conclusion is 180° from the District of Gibsons. I know.
“The benefits to Gibsons’ residents, businesses and community are extensive,” the District of Gibsons website says. “As a Gibsons resident, you will be able to live in one of the world’s most liveable towns and operate your business right from where you live.”
This statement is true, so long as you don’t have any sort of existing network which contains: a network printer (Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, etc.), a network backup system, a network attached storage device, a server, remote access to your computers, a commercial-level wireless system, or any concern for your network security.
You see, Telus will replace your existing networking equipment with a modified ZyXEL VSG-1432 combination modem / wireless router.
I have actually seen an $800 Meraki router thrown in the garbage after a visit from a [clearly clueless] Telus technician. Your commercial-grade networking equipment will be replaced with a some-what OK router with sub-standard firmware (the software that allows you to configure and control your network).
Your nice, stable network will be replaced with a router that is only somewhat configurable. And unless you just happen to be operating on the same subnet as Telus routers (192.168.1.x) you will encounter the need to either reprogram your router or adapt your systems to the new standard imposed by Telus.
Unlike offerings of yester-year, Telus no longer offers a standalone modem (the terrific, stable, and no-nonsense Thompson modems do not work with the “high speed turbo” and “optik” connections). And due to the inferior firmware forced on Telus users, the Telus ZyXEL modems cannot operate in “bridge mode”, which is a slap in the face of anyone who is serious about their network and IT infrastructure.
Here is a conversation I had with Paul from Telus today (April 02, 2014)
Hi! Thanks for contacting TELUS.
You are ‘2’ in queue.
** The information you provide may be stored electronically on a server outside of Canada. The information will be protected with appropriate security safeguards, but may be subject to access under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction. **
You are now chatting with ‘Paul’
Paul: Welcome to TELUS Technical Support Chat Centre. My name is Paul. I’ll be happy to help.
Paul: Hi Matthew. What I can do for you today?
Matthew: We’d like to use our existing router to handle our home internet … do you have a “just modem” like the old Thompson modems, or can we turn our Zyxel into a modem only
Matthew: this is with the new Optik connections
Paul: Please give me a moment to check it here. Thanks.
Paul: TELUS doesn’t longer provide Thompson modem. You can use the TELUS Zyxel to act like modem for bridge mode, but we do not support the setup here.
Matthew: you don’t support it? You cannot set it to bridge mode?
Paul: That’s right. TELUS doesn’t recommend the use of 3rd party router, and we do not information to provide about your own router.
Paul: *we do not have information
Matthew: so we’d have to completely set up our printers, fax machines, backup systems, NAS devices, all remote port forwarding etc. onto the Telus router, because you cannot turn on bridge mode or provide a $10 modem. Seems wasteful to me.
Paul: Unfortunately, yes. Bridging modem the router is just pretty easy. You don’t need to have that advanced technical knowledge to do it.
Matthew: ok – wonderful – thank you
Matthew: have a great day
Yes, you read that right. Telus would rather have you bound by their inferior equipment than have you use your existing, already set-up and configured “3rd party” routers.
So let’s take a look at what Paul means by not needing to possess any “advanced technical knowledge”.
For anyone interested, you CAN log into your router with the Telus technician root login and configure bridge mode:
There are a set of logins that bypass the crippled, default admin account:
default customer login is (can be changed after first login)
“poweruser” login – some options are still locked
root login – all features are unlocked and configurable
(old firmware 31.30L.48)
(new firmware 31.30L.55)
Bridged Mode: For 3rd Party Routers
Before enabling bridged mode you may want to turn off wireless if you’re going to use it on your own router. I’ve had some problems turning it off after enabling bridged mode. Also, you can unscrew the attached antennas, you don’t need them if you’ve turned off wireless.
On your third party router change the default LAN subnet to something outside of the router’s default subnet 192.168.1.0 255.255.255.0 – 10.0.0.0 255.0.0.0 should work fine.
To enable transparent bridging mode:
log in as root
go to “Advanced Setup”
WAN IP Addressing
2. Select the ISP protocol below
select “RFC 1483 Transparent Bridging”
Plug your own router (WAN port) into the router (LAN port), now your own router should transparently pass through the Telus router, getting a DHCP assigned IP address directly from Telus. Some additional config may be necessary on your router.
To connect to the Telus router while in bridging mode:
Directly connect a computer to the Telus router and change the adapter address to a static IP in the default IP range (ex., 192.168.1.66).
Then connect to the router as usual – http://192.168.1.254
With bridging enabled, some strange behaviour is exhibited when logging in – you’ll see below the log in section that it says you’re already logged in as admin although you won’t be able to view any of the configuration pages. When you log in as root you won’t see any confirmation of a log in, you’ll just get bumped back to the home page. You should be able to go to config pages once logged in though.
Alternatively you can log in using telnet if you want to enable it:
1. Set the remote telnet state below.
Local Telnet -> enable
Set the user name and password for login
Use putty or some other terminal client and login using the username and password you’ve set.
Once logged in, you have a crippled shell – like the command “ls” and “cd” won’t work.
To get a slightly more functional shell type “sh” to get a busybox shell.
To get Optik TV working with a third party router, you must enable multicasting:
If you don’t have multicasting enabled on your third party router, TV channels will work for a few seconds then drop out.
For the tomato firmware this option is:
Advanced -> Firewall -> Multicast
Check off the LAN segment you want to enable multicasting on – default should be LAN
So, that’s a lot of steps for something that doesn’t take too much technical knowledge.
However, it should be noted that if Telus pushes a firmware upgrade down the pipe, your settings will be blitzed and you will have to start again. Bummer dude.
In addition to these issues, Telus blocks a bevvy of ports. Ports that are integral for a small business.
Incoming Ports That Telus Blocks
Telus blocks you from hosting several services on your home internet connection. This prevents you from hosting things like web sites, ftp servers, mail servers, on their native ports. You can get around this by hosting these services on non-standard ports or using a VPN connection that doesn’t block the same incoming traffic.
The rationale for blocking these services appears to be under the guise of protecting users and the Telus network from malware. Really it’s just a way to prevent you from fully utilizing your connection and to force you to buy a more expensive tier of service.
The only packages with no blocked ports at this time are the Server packages.
The blocked ports currently are:
TCP 21 (ftp)
TCP 25 (smtp)
Email delivery server (MTA – Mail Transfer Agent)
TCP 80 (www)
TCP 110 (pop3)
POP3 email retrieval servers (MDA – Mail Delivery Agent)
TCP 6667 (ircd)
IRC servers (Internet Relay Chat)
TCP/UDP 135-139 (dcom and netbios)
135 Windows RPC
136 PROFILE Naming System (basically unused)
137-139 Windows NetBios
TCP/UDP 443 (ssl)
Secure web browsing – HTTPS
TCP/UDP 445 (ms-ds)
Microsoft Directory Services
TCP/UDP 1433-1434 (ms-sql)
Microsoft SQL Server
Telus WiFi: Connection Lost
The wireless component of the Telus routers is not bad for a home operation, but lacks severely if used in a commercial space.
For most commercial operations, a delicate array of wireless base stations and repeaters extend the normal operating range of a wireless network.
While the wireless signal of a Telus ZyXEL router can definitely be repeated, you will likely need to revisit how you are offering wireless coverage to your organization.
This has an implied cost associated with equipment upgrades and IT solutions.
Telus Email: Undeliverable
Another issue to be aware of when switching service providers, is that of migrating your email accounts.
If you’ve read our article Email Options: POP, IMAP, and Exchange & What is Right for You, then you know that we are strong supporters of Hosted Exchange and / or non-ISP hosted IMAP accounts.
This means I HOPE you don’t have an email that is @dccnet.com or @eastlink.ca or @uniserve.com, etc..
If you do, then the second you terminate your service with Eastlink or other ISP, your old email accounts will be deactivated. Your email from your contacts and customers will no longer reach you. Disaster if you haven’t thought this part through.
Also, do not forget about all of those online accounts you’ve made with your old @eastlink.ca address. Remember that offsite backup account you made? Do you remember your password? No problem, we’ll just get a password reset email sent to your account. What’s this? You no longer have access to firstname.lastname@example.org so you can receive your password reset link? Hmmm, this could get tricky, time consuming, and frustrating. And maybe even a little expensive.
So be sure to either arrange to keep paying a monthly fee to retain your old email accounts with your old ISP or update your clients with your new, non-ISP (read, non-Telus) email account.
Telus Security: Think Again
One of my favorite “tricks” to employ when configuring small business operations is to split an internet connection a few ways in order to create an administrative network and a guest network.
This costs next to nothing to deploy, has no monthly fees, and guarantees that a guest has no access to the business’s admin network.
With Telus this impossible.
And while I don’t fully agree with everything this guy says, nor with his analysis of the situation, it is fun to watch a guy freak out about his Telus router:
Telus Optik: Conclusion
Do you have an experience with Telus?
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If you’ve switched to Telus and are encountering issues, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.