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Configure pfSense for EFM or MBE

Both EFM (Ethernet in the first mile) and MBE (Mid-band Ethernet) services offer high speed symmetrical business-grade internet services over standard copper phone lines.

Typically two, three or four pairs (4,6 or 8 wires) are used, depending upon the distance from the Telephone Exchange and the desired maximum speeds.

The major advantages of an EFM or MBE service are symmetrical speeds (the same speed for uploads and downloads), that the service degrades gracefully if there is a problem with one or more of the copper pairs (i.e. your speeds reduced, rather than losing internet entirely), along with higher SLA's from the providers. The higher upload speeds and greater resilience against failure makes EFM and MBE perfect for businesses self hosting websites & email, or with lots of VoIP phone extensions.

EFM and MBE are available Australia wide and have been for years. Many businesses consider them to be an excellent alternative to more expensive business-grade fibre, and lower SLA NBN services.

ByteFoundry are dealers for both TPG and Exetel, we would be delighted to provide some quotes on EFM or MBE products for you. Contact us now!

AAPT (now owned by TPG) is typically the wholesaler regardless of who your provider is.

Modem Installation

Once an order is placed, generally there will be two install dates. On the first date, a Telstra technician will visit your premises and tag the lines over which your EFM service will be installed. This technician will simply need access to the MDF (Main Distribution Frame), and will probably only take a few moments.

The second date will be the AAPT technician. This person will attach a socket to the lines tagged in the MDF, then connect the modem and ensure that the service is working. A speed test will be performed which will provide a baseline for the performance of the service.

Most likely, the modem will be similar to the one pictured below.

OneAccess 1424

From your perspective, there is nothing to configure on this modem.

The "PWR" lamp indicates power, the "LNK" indicates a link, and "LAN1" "LAN2" are link lights for the ethernet ports on the rear. For future reference you should observe the optimal LED state by simply unplugging the modem from power and replugging it, the LED's will then blink and settle to that final optimal state.

Modem Relocation

Most likely your MDF is no where you want to place the modem and your firewall.

You can have a qualified electrician remove the socket, run wiring (Cat6 or similar) to a more suitable location, and install a new output socket.

This is desirable in a business premise with a shared MDF, or where the MDF is in an insecure location.

Keep in mind though, that increasing the distance on the "Phone" side will reduce your speed. This may be negligible over 10-20meters. Prove if this is the case by running several speed tests before and after the relocation.

Note: the "LINE" and "CONSOLE" ports are easily confused

In the event that increasing the distance impacts performance, you should unwire this extension from the MDF and terminate it for Ethernet. Reattach the original socket to the MDF and plug the modem into that socket. Secure the modem at the MDF (perhaps install a small data cabinet), and plug the now-Ethernet terminated cable in to "LAN1". Your firewall can then attach to the other end, and any speed impacts will be minimized.

Configure pfSense

The WAN port of your pfSense router should plug in to the "LAN1" port of the modem. "LAN1" may have four ports, in which case use any of those four.

Please then refer to the connection details which your ISP will provide to you. The connection type will be either PPPoE or Static.

We have not seen DHCP, but please let us know if your provider uses DHCP with EMF or MBE so we can update this document.

PPPoE, used by TPG

TPG uses standard PPPoE settings for their EFM and MBE products.

pfSense PPPoE configuration

Log in to your pfSense firewall as the root user. On the top menu bar, click "Interfaces" then "WAN".

As pictured above, ensure that the interface is enabled. Rename the interface as desired.

For "IPv4 Configuration Type" select "PPPoE". For "IPv6 Configuration Type" select "None" (unless your ISP supports IPv6 here).

Enter your Username exactly as provided from your ISP - copy & paste is best. Then enter your Password in both fields - again, copy & paste is best.

You may wish to adjust other options such as the "Reserved Network" settings. The "Service Name" option will have no effect.

Then click "Save".

Your WAN connection should the connect immediately.

Note: we have observed that if the Modem sees DHCP requests it will block PPPoE data until it is power cycled. For this reason you may want to configure your WAN prior to plugging in - and if PPPoE doesn't seem to be working try power cycling the modem.

Static, used by Exetel

Exetel simply asks you to static assign the IP address details for your firewall. They often assign their customers a small subnet, so chose one of the usable addresses for your firewall.

If you are provided with a subnet, you can plug additional devices (such as web or email servers) in to the four "LAN1" ports and assign them an address from your pool. All these devices will be live on the internet with a real IP address (there is no need for a DMZ or port forwarding), sharing the bandwidth that you service provides. Alternatively, connected devices can be assigned more than one IP address from your pool.

 Static WAN

Log in to your pfSense firewall as the root user. On the top menu bar, click "Interfaces" then "WAN".

As pictured above, ensure that the interface is enabled. Rename the interface as desired.

For "IPv4 Configuration Type" select "Static IPv4". For "IPv6 Configuration Type" select "None" (unless your ISP supports IPv6 here). 

Enter the "IPv4 Address" that you have been assigned or selected from your pool. Be careful to enter the subnet correctly, use a subnet calculator to convert from dot-decimal notation if needed.

Click "Add a new gateway", a pop up window will appear. Enter the gateway address provided by your ISP and Click "OK". The pop up window will disappear and the "IPv4 Upstream Gateway" field will be populated.

You may wish to adjust other options such as the "Reserved Network" settings. The "Service Name" option will have no effect.

Then click "Save".

Your WAN connection should now be fully functional.

When troubleshooting, try rebooting the modem and checking the subnet mask as first steps.

Stuck?

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Thanks?

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Disclosure

We are dealers for both Exetel (Dealer BA1372) and TPG (Dealer NAUAAH).

By using the above links and codes when signing up, we get a tiny commission and as your dealer can assist you with configuration problems etc.



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