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Community Fibre using Deco S7 mesh

MrMellie

Casual Member
I'm looking at switching to Community Fibre in the next week or so. My PlusNet contract is up in the middle of December, but they can only still offer me one crappy "up to 40mb" plan for the FTTC I have. I'm still a long way from the cab and only manage 30mbps tops. Given my road was ~5 years late getting FTTC (a combination of NIMBYs not wanting the new cabinet installed and then by the time planning permission was finally granted after our MP got involved, BT had "spent the money" and had no funds available for rollout!), I'm not waiting around for Openreach to do FTTP anytime soon.

Some Open Infra letters and leaflets popped through my door this week touting for business to get their 40% threshold for doing our street. While I was looking online to find out who they were, I discovered Community Fibre was already on the pole outside my house and yet I had heard not a jot about it from CF themselves! But, at £25 p.m. for a 1gb plan, they look like a good option and service is ready to rock. That's actually cheaper than my current PN package!

Anyway, I have a Deco S7 mesh in AP mode hanging off my PlusNet router at the moment and was wondering if I could use these in router mode instead of the supplied Linksys router that will be supplied by CF. Has anyone tried this before?
 
Yes, the Deco S7 mesh in router mode connected to the Adtran ONT will work technically. You’ll just need to set the WAN interface to DHCP.

However the Deco S7 is based on WiFi-5 technology so will max out around 500Mbps. If you sign up for the 1Gbps CF service then you ideally need WiFi-6 to achieve 700Mbps+ speeds. CF will provide a Linksys Velop WiFi-6 router and my suggestion is to use this and if additional coverage is required purchase another identical unit from eBay. However wired ethernet will provide the most optimum speed, reliability and performance.
 
Thanks for the response, good to hear it will work as I thought. I'm happy with the hardware as it is, don't see the point of splashing extra cash where I don't need to.

The Deco is AC1900 e.g. 600 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz. That is plenty good enough for phones, tablets and security cams. Anything else in my house that needs serious speed (PC, work laptop, TV) is already on an internal 1Gb LAN, I've got a minimum of 2 ports in every room. My bottleneck is the FTTC with massive length of copper still hanging off the cab. Before FTTC, I was about 2km as the crow flies from the exchange, but with >5km of copper.
 
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Great to hear you have a wired network for demanding devices.

The only other thing to mention if you have any services accessible externally over Plusnet on a port forwarded IPv4 address this won’t work as CGNAT is used for all 1Gbps and below services. An IPv6 /48 prefix delegation is provided too.
 
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There is also some suspected performance and realibility issues on people using CGNAT. This is anecdotal on this forum at this stage but with enough samples to point to a different service quality when using CGNAT. Unfortunatelly CF does not sell any other non-CGNAT plans other than the 3Gb service which costs £49 and it's probably an overkill for most people other than those really wanting to push the boundaries for the lulz or for a niche use case.
 
I have got a static IP with PN, but not really making any use of it. The last time I remember setting up port forwarding and needing the static IP was when I used to play mine craft many many years ago. I'm not accessing NAS or anything from outside the home so *think* I should be ok. I do play a lot of other online games still, but never usually have to set anything up for them

@GreenLantern22 hopefully any performance issues will surface before my 60day cool off is up! I've got PN in parallel until 20th Dec, at which point I can let my contract lapse if all is well.
 
I have got a static IP with PN, but not really making any use of it. The last time I remember setting up port forwarding and needing the static IP was when I used to play mine craft many many years ago. I'm not accessing NAS or anything from outside the home so *think* I should be ok. I do play a lot of other online games still, but never usually have to set anything up for them
CGNAT adds a little bit of latgency so not ideal for gaming, not sure how bad it is on CF. A lot of games also use UPnP to dynamically open ports and do port forwarding "on the fly". Most security concious people turn off UPnP as it can also be used by malicious software to open ports and connect back to your network. Most consumer routers tend to have UPnP enabled by default.
 
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If you haven’t placed an order yet, a neighbour managed to get 6 months free from the door to door sales person as they were still in contract with existing ISP.
 
@MrMellie

Compared with Plusnet I would say the disadvantages were:
  • CGNAT so no public IP address (also no static IP address option on the "consumer" offer)
  • Less reliable (a few widespread outages of a few hours over the last 12 months)
  • A fairly basic phone service (bought in)
  • No ISP email address or other "added" services.
These may not be a disadvantage for you but it is worth being aware.

The advantages are:
  • Faster
  • Symmetrical speed (useful for uploads)
  • A decent (by ISP supplied equipment standards) included router
  • No barriers to using your own router (not true for the phone service however)
Assuming you have the service installed, it might be worth asking the installer if they can let you have another router to make a mesh. I've heard that this can be good value.

Think carefully about where you want the fibre and their active network termination equipment (ONT) to go. You need 2 sockets for the installers to complete their work.

After they go you can swap the supplied router for your own system.
 
If you haven’t placed an order yet, a neighbour managed to get 6 months free from the door to door sales person as they were still in contract with existing ISP.
I've not had a single bit of contact from them since they came to my street. I only found out about them on this forum.
 
Compared with Plusnet I would say the disadvantages were:
  • CGNAT so no public IP address (also no static IP address option on the "consumer" offer)
  • Less reliable (a few widespread outages of a few hours over the last 12 months)
  • A fairly basic phone service (bought in)
  • No ISP email address or other "added" services.
These may not be a disadvantage for you but it is worth being aware.

Thanks @Barnet, always useful to get the info.

I don't think the lack of static IP will be a deal breaker, will have to see about any latency on CGNAT though. It could all be relative though, how does this compare with latency on an old FTTC cab that struggles to get 30mbps?

This could be a concern as I work from home 2 days a week. My dad has several spare 4G routers so I will take him up on the offer of one of these as a backup. (He's 89 and just moved himself off PN on to 4G and a VOIP service.)

I'm planning on moving my landline to a PAYG VOIP service like VOIPfone for £1.50 p.m.

I think the last ISP provided email address I actively used was Cityscape. That dates me somewhat lol. I soon became aware they can be a PITA when changing providers and losing your email address.

I'll give it a go asking the installer about a 2nd router. If I get no joy, I'm happy with the Deco as it is.
 
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Install went pretty smoothly today. Didn't manage to blag a 2nd router though.

First test after connecting on my phone gave me a blinding 978down/672up on wifi! Obviously drops a fair bit when I move away from the router to another room, but still way better than the PN FTTC (like 10x better even when it drops to 200mbps)

Hard wired the PC to the router and got a very disappointing max of about 447mbps down with 895 up.

I haven't tried connecting the Deco yet. I'm presuming I'm going to need my account username and password first. I went to 195.168.1.1 and was met with a page telling me to download an app. Have modern routers been dumbed down that much now?
 
There is a Linksys mobile app for easy remote management.

A decent wired pc should give you 900Mbps+ upload & download. However CGNAT may impact speeds at peak times.

Results from a wired raspberry pi4 (without CGNAT)

Speedtest by Ookla

Server: Community Fibre Limited - London (id: 30690)
ISP: Community Fibre Limited
Idle Latency: 0.75 ms (jitter: 0.40ms, low: 0.70ms, high: 1.55ms)
Download: 935.71 Mbps (data used: 745.5 MB)
11.31 ms (jitter: 0.67ms, low: 0.68ms, high: 24.02ms)
Upload: 933.89 Mbps (data used: 433.1 MB)
2.68 ms (jitter: 0.38ms, low: 0.97ms, high: 4.82ms)
Packet Loss: 0.0%
Result URL: https://www.speedtest.net/result/c/221686a8-9d55-4fe5-bfa3-02174b51a687
 
Thanks @Barnet, always useful to get the info.

I don't think the lack of static IP will be a deal breaker, will have to see about any latency on CGNAT though. It could all be relative though, how does this compare with latency on an old FTTC cab that struggles to get 30mbps?

This could be a concern as I work from home 2 days a week. My dad has several spare 4G routers so I will take him up on the offer of one of these as a backup. (He's 89 and just moved himself off PN on to 4G and a VOIP service.)

I'm planning on moving my landline to a PAYG VOIP service like VOIPfone for £1.50 p.m.

I think the last ISP provided email address I actively used was Cityscape. That dates me somewhat lol. I soon became aware they can be a PITA when changing providers and losing your email address.

I'll give it a go asking the installer about a 2nd router. If I get no joy, I'm happy with the Deco as it is.
Voipfone are great but prices have gone up. It’s now £3+vat for a UK 0203 number and £1.50+vat per PBX extension, but you can have one VoIP device connected to the master account without paying for PBX extensions.
 
@MrMellie

"I haven't tried connecting the Deco yet. I'm presuming I'm going to need my account username and password first."

No, you shouldn't need any credentials.

With Plusnet your Deco was probably set for PPPoE and you would have had the Plusnet account and password.

With Community Fibre it is the ONT (fibre to Ethernet box) that is authenticated and the router just picks up the WAN IP address by DHCP.

Most likely (well at least how it worked for me) you just plug your router in to the ONT and it gets the WAN IP address and works.

On the 3Gb/s service I think you may need to spoof (copy) the MAC address of the Community Fibre supplied router to your router.

If it doesn't "just work" with the Deco set to DHCP, investigating if you can set the WAN MAC address on the Deco would be worth investigating.
 
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@Barnet yes I had brainfart there re creds, it's been a while since I had a separate router and modem in my setup. My Decos were all set to AP mode on the PN router, with the router's WiFi disabled.

I removed one of the Decos from the old network and plugged the ONT in to it, everything just worked! Well almost, my PC didn't want to see the network at first until I remembered I had set it to a static IP. Flicked it on to use DHCP to find out what subnet the Deco is using and hey presto, it sprang in to life.

Retesting the speed was still only yielding 4-500mbps. I had found my way into the Linksys config page prior to this and found a built in speed testing on there. That gave 1052mbps, so proving the actual CF connection is good. I tried different cables, all to no avail. Then on Ookla I spotted there is a speed test app for Windows. So I downloaded that and instantly got a reading of 890mbps. No idea what is up with the browser version of the speedtest, I tried different browsers and always got the same reading.


I hooked my TV in to the other spare port on the deco and it maxed out at 98mbps! That's when I realised Philips have cheaped out and only put a 100mb ethernet port in there, but if that's all it needs, then great. If I can get rid of the occasional stuttering on one of the streaming channels, then great.
 
@MrMellie

Glad it's all sorted.

The Community Fibre supplied Linksys is quite decent by the standards of ISP supplied equipment but the standard issue is one unit. I'm mildly doubtful about you measuring more than 1Gb/s (the device measurement may be "optimistic") but is its possible that the latest issue equipment has a 2.5Gb/s port on both ONT and router.

All other things being equal, streaming services should be fine with a 100Mb/s connection as the sustained rate required is considerably less that that.

How much data rate a stream is will be one of those "how long is a piece of string questions" as generally the service adapts to the network performance but from my experience (with an Apple TV unit) a wired connection of any type seems to do the job fine.
 
but is its possible that the latest issue equipment has a 2.5Gb/s port on both ONT and router.
Both the Adtron ONT and the Linksys SPNMX56CF have indeed got 2.5gb ports.

I'm not expecting 1052mbps under normal use, the significance of the reading to me was that it showed something was up between or at the PC end, rather than the router/internet connection. Compared with an average 25mbps before with PN, this is like hopping out of a Nissan Micra into a F1 car.
 
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