Arcor EasyBox A801

Recently, my girl friend and I decided to get Arcor DigitalTV. So we got some hardware from Arcor (and unfortunately we needed to „upgrade“ our real-ISDN-connection to a SIP-based-one):

  • Pirelli Settop Box
  • Arcor EasyBox A801 WLAN/ISDN

That second piece of hardware is kinda interesting, because it is an ADSL2+-Modem, (WLAN-)Router, SIP-Gateway and file-/printserver (it has one USB port which can be used to connect an USB hub and up to 4 disks or 1 printer) and 4-Port Switch in one (I think it doesn’t include whats called a ‚Splitter‘, because with this kind of connection there is no ISDN signal to be splitted from the internet signal).

Unfortunately not all is well about this (or about my provider). This piece of hardware can be configured with a modem installation code. Which is good for an average user, because he does not need to care about anything. With this process the hardware configures itself by receiving configuration data from a configuration server of the provider. Regardless about other implications this might have: What disturbed me about this is, that I loose control about my router, if I use this. Because when configured this way some sites in the router are grayed out. If you click them you get a message that this setting is controlled by your provider. Uarg. Well, unfortunately IPTV from arcor does not simply use the same internet connection as I usually do (more about this later), so I were suffering from missing informations about how to configure the router manually.
Arcor wasn’t particular helpful in this, because they told us „Der Router kann nicht manuell konfiguriert werden.“ (which means in Englisch: „The router cannot be configured manually.“). Although this brought me to laugh, I were also disappointed and worried about this. So I decided to find it out myself. I won’t tell what I tried after all, but in the end I found out that the modem installation code-installation does configure:

  • 2 PPPOE-Links (1 for the Internet Connection and 1 with private IP-addresses)
  • 1MAC Encapsulation Routing (which uses DHCP to get settings from tv.arcor.de)

With this knowledge (and some good guessing, e.g. that both PPPoE links eventually use the same user data) I were able to configure the router fully myself, which also enables me to set QoS settings how I want them (which is why I went through the whole torture at all, because SSH was extremely laggish when watching TV). One thing is notable however, how I got the information:

The manufacturer of the router seems to do some things to protect the settings from the user. For example: The page for configuring the WAN is called wan_main.stm, it can be called without trouble if you are configureing the router manually, but the system would block access when you use the modem installation code. BUT and thats how I got the info that the third link is a MAC Encapsulation Link: The status page (where it shows that you are connected etc.) includes javascript vars for nearly everything you ever wanted to know about your router configuration. Not obfuscated after all. You just have to look at the source of the status frame. Thats real professional, Arcor.

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