Bypassing Bell Home Hub 3000 with a media converter and FreeBSD

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Nov 262020

I recently moved and decided to have Bell install their Fibe FTTH service. Bell provides an integrated Home Hub 3000 (HH3k from now on) unit to terminate the fibre and provide wifi/router functionality. It’s not terrible as this ISP provided units go and probably relatively serviceable for regular consumer use, but it’s got some limitations that annoy anal retentive geeks like me.

I wanted to bypass it. It’ll do PPPoE passthrough, so you can mostly bypass it just by plugging your existing router into the HH3k and configuring your PPPoE settings. If you want to you can disable the wifi on the HH3k. You can also use the Advanced DMZ setting to assign a public IP via DHCP to a device you designate.

But what if you want to bypass it physically and not deal with this bulky unit at all? Turns out you can get a fibre to Ethernet media converter for $40CAD from Amazon, and just use that instead. On your router you’ll need to configure your PPPoE connection to use VLAN35 on the interface connected to the media converter/fibre connection, but if you’re using pfSense or raw FreeBSD like me, this is simple enough.

Physical Setup:

  1. Buy a media converter. Personally I purchased this product from 10Gtek (I don’t use referral codes or anything).
  2. In the HH3k you’ll find the fibre cable is plugged into a GBIC. Disconnect the fiber cable and you’ll find a little pull-latch on the GBIC you can use to pull it from the HH3k. The GBIC itself is (I believe) authenticated on the Bell network, so don’t break or lose it. Plug the GBIC into the media converter.
  3. Plug the fibre cable into the GBIC.
  4. Plug the Ethernet port of the media converter into the WAN port on your router.

FreeBSD configuration:

  1. Configure your WAN NICs in /etc/rc.conf:
ifconfig_igb0="inet netmask"

Adjust for your NIC type/number. I found I had to assign an IP address to the root NIC before the PPPoE would work over the VLAN interface. I used an IP from the default subnet used by the HH3k. This way if I ever plug the HH3k back in, I’ll be able to connect to it to manage it.

2. Update your mpd5.conf to reference your new VLAN interface:

        load bell
        create bundle static BellBundle0
        set bundle links BellLink0
        set ipcp ranges
        set ipcp disable vjcomp
        set iface route default
        create link static BellLink0 pppoe
        set auth authname blahblah
        set auth password foobar
        set pppoe iface igb0.35
        set pppoe service "bell"
        set link max-redial 0
        set link keep-alive 10 60
        set link enable shortseq
        set link mtu 1492
        set link mru 1492
        set link action bundle BellBundle0

And that’s literally it. Bounce your configuration (or your router) and everything should come up. I found the PPPoE connection was effectively instantaneous in this configuration, where it had taken a bit to light up when the HH3k was in the mix.

 Posted by at 9:42 PM