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Oh Dear ... What a Disappointment!
on 27 April 2013
I bought a TP-Link TD-8817 modem in conjunction with the Asus RT-N66U router, as the two in combination was highly recommended by many Amazon reviewers and in other forums. I had decided to update my home network as my existing Netgear DGN5500 modem/router was creaking under the strain of a home demanding a lot from its wireless network, causing frequent wireless dropouts: quite a common problem these days where there are many tablets, phones, laptops etc. all trying to connect in the same household at the same time. There are also a lot of 2.4 GHz wireless networks operating in my local neighbourhood, adding to the problem. The Asus RT-N66U router has a dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless capability and as there were not many 5 GHz wireless networks currently operating in my neighbourhood the theory was dual band would significantly improve my network capability and give me access to an uncluttered band. A separate modem / router would also give me more versatility and less future redundancy.
So, I placed my order. Delivery from Amazon was prompt as usual.
The TD-8817 modem is quite functionally rich given its price. The GUI is simple to understand. I followed the setup & installation instructions per the supplied manual / disc. That didn’t work, so I then tried using the advice that other Amazon reviewers had been kind enough to post previously. This time around, I got the required connection and then proceeded to connect my Asus RT-N66U router to my TD-8817 modem. This went smoothly. Excellent, I thought. Job done!
Then the problems started. The TD-8817 modem wouldn’t hold the connection for more than a minute or two. I obviously had more internet forum research to do! But without a stable network connection, how could I do this? I disconnected the new TD-8817 modem and reconnected using my old Netgear modem / router.
After many hours of research - often having to compare / contrast seemingly conflicting advice (such are forums these days) - I identified that some different settings were required on the TD-8817 modem. So, I disconnected my Netgear (again), re-installed the TD-8817 modem (again) and the Asus RT-N66U router (again) and bingo – stable connection. This connection was stable over night through to 3pm the next day. Then the problems started again. Now, I know network speed tends to suffer when the schools turn out. The kids come home, check their Facebook accounts, start playing on-line games etc. But, the TD-8817 modem was completely incapable of holding a connection and when it finally refused to connect at all, I decided enough was enough! I decided that the TD-8817 modem needs to go back as it’s not fit for my purpose and I didn’t want to waste any more time researching, disconnecting, reconnecting etc. However, as I am impressed with the Asus RT-N66U router, I’m still using it, albeit with my Netgear DGN3500 operating in bridge mode. However, as I really want to use the Netgear DGN3500 as a wireless repeater, which clearly I can’t do at the moment, I’m now looking for another modem – although there aren’t many to choose from. Time will tell whether I keep the Asus RT-N66U router or whether it goes back as well.
Having subsequently carried out more research, it seems that the problem I have experienced with the TD-8817 modem is quite common. Basically, without going into the specifics of SNR, line attenuation, ADSL 2+, VPI/VCI settings etc., the TD-8817 modem is completely useless if you are more than 2.4km away from your local telephone exchange (telephone line length that is, not line of sight) because of the chipset the TD-8817 modem uses. I need a modem which uses a Broadcom chipset, which holds long-line connections much better. My old Netgear modem/router uses this chipset, which is why it’s working brilliantly in bridge mode. The frustrating thing about this whole experience is that TP-Link should be more honest with its customers and tell people that its TD-8817 modem is unsuitable for customers who have long line lengths from their telephone exchange. Especially since, given the TD-8817 modem’s price point, it’s likely to be bought by customers who are not network savvy – which I wasn’t until I had to go through this experience! I’m now a real bore at the pub, trying to impress everyone with my newly found knowledge on home networking! Don’t make the same mistake I did! Either do your research thoroughly and get a separate modem/ router appropriate to your particular networking requirements or get a combined router/modem combination and save yourself a lot of hassle.
So in summary, if you have a long line length from your local exchange (there are websites which will calculate this for you), don’t buy this modem.