Learn from my pain and know if your NBN provider has PPPoE

I’m currently testing the Eero Pro 6, a set of three mesh modems. They are fine, I will have an exam soon, but I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little story about my NBN and PPPoE network, and provide some help to anyone else having a similar problem.

I update my NBN package often. Over the past two years, I’ve changed every six months (in line with entry discounts), starting with Flip, moving to Aussie Broadband, then Superloop. Last Thursday, I decided to upgrade to Spintel, a small brand in the broadband world that offers pretty decent 5G and NBN packages.

Ooooh boy, didn’t I prepare for what I was getting into.

I’m not normally one to get into NBN horror stories. Switching as often as possible and moving from NBN 25 to NBN 50 (where in the past I’ve dealt with NBN 12, ADSL 2 and 4G internet), my experience with NBN in my interior west home served by HFC was mostly good.

HFC, for context, is one of the fastest NBN types, behind Fiber to the Premises and ahead of Fiber to the Curb. It is linked to the Internet infrastructure of the house and can be found everywhere in the city center.

But the switch to Spintel caused me a series of problems, all for reasons that I really can’t blame on anyone, but shouldn’t have happened.

This is not a Spintel review. This has been meant to be an opportunity to test the bandwidth of the Eero wireless mesh network with my VR headset without any wires on an NBN 100 service, but the day turned out differently.

I made the call to disconnect my Superloop service. Their customer service has been excellent in my experience and since my six month discount was coming to an end, I saw this as an opportunity to try another ISP. Superloop disconnected me a few minutes after the phone call.

Then, using my phone hotspot, I set up my Spintel account and got everything ready. At first I was confused as to why Spintel wanted to know not only my modem model but also its MAC address (I still don’t understand why Spintel needed it). I suspected something was up when the Eero didn’t show up in the drop-down menu provided. I entered it manually.

Confused as to why my service hadn’t connected (to be fair, the emails I had received so far from Spintel were vague), a phone call with a customer service representative revealed that I needed to upload proof of residency/identity checks. Yeah, easy, I did that.

After that the NBN box lights went back to normal… But the Eero mesh nodes just showed a sinister Red light. I assumed that, like with Superloop and Aussie Broadband, my modems would come back to life, powered by something called DHCP, a kind of internet delivery that automatically configures your modem to your provided internet service.

No. Spintel does not use DHCP, it uses PPPoE to provide NBN. PPPoE is a kind of internet delivery that requires you to access the backend of the modem to configure the details provided by your ISP. This is not always the case, but it often is.

Easy, I thought stupidly. I’ve done this before, with a Belong 4353 modem which I used to connect to Flip. No, nothing is simple anymore.

You see… The Eero Pro 6 only recently added support for PPPoE, a confusing thing to support with an update given that it’s an established form of Internet-wide delivery. international. It is very good. What’s wrong is that it’s wrong Support.

Online you will read that the Eero Pro 6 requires you to configure your modem for PPPoE before you change Internet service provider. A simple request. The one who is stern if you are wrong.

“Please note: Since this feature requires a firmware update, you may need to configure your network first while it is connected to your modem/router or router, then update to v6. 6.1 or later,” the webpage adds.

Without it, I couldn’t configure my internet service. Like, at all. I couldn’t even access the back-end of the Eero Pro 6 mesh network. Why?

Because it needs to be connected to the internet to access its settings.

“Go through the backend through a browser”, I hear you say. “Just type in,” network professionals will say. Well… What if I told you that the Eero… For some reason… Doesn’t have a gateway portal. At all. Nothing.

How to access its settings? Through an app. You don’t have to be connected to its network to change its settings, so you can do it on the go, but you do it through an app. Also for some reason the “hard reset” button on my Mesh network modems didn’t work either. Ugh.

Before I say I should have gone back to my other modem to try and get it to work with this PPPoE NBN, just know that I tried that and it didn’t work either. It appears that this The modem also wasn’t configured for PPPoE (previously I used it for “PPP” which is different for some reason), which I can forgive considering it’s much older than the Eero Pro 6.

So anyway, after mulling this over with two different Spintel customer service reps and five hours of troubleshooting, I decided to think a little bigger. I knew that Aussie Broadband provides internet via DHCP which doesn’t require any backend magic to connect. I also knew I could rock it in about an hour.

I called Aussie Broadband, switched over and within an hour my internet was fixed.

So what did I learn from this exercise? Well, I’ve learned that even as smart as I think I am with internet stuff, I can still be caught off guard by things that shouldn’t go wrong.

So in case you want to avoid what I got myself into, here are some steps:

  • When changing ISPs, make sure it’s DHCP to avoid headaches.
  • If your NBN provider offers PPPoE, make sure your modem is compatible.
  • Switch NBN providers before disconnecting your NBN service. Trust me.
  • Also, never be afraid to google a problem.

Anyway, Spintel decided not to charge me for this (although they still billed me for $4.45 for some reason), but that’s just something Eero shouldn’t have been wrong. It’s also not ideal to have to dabble in PPPoE these days for the NBN, but frankly, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t care.

Stay tuned for the Eero review.

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