How to replace your Sky fibre router

Posted in Computers, Howto, Tech on May 4th, 2014 by Andy
A person having handcuffs put on them

Not keen on paying Sky to do this to your connection?

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to replace your Sky fibre router (and there are a few) the common denominator is that Sky don’t make it easy. These instructions will allow you to connect to your Sky fibre connection using your own router. The model I’m demonstrating is the Asus RT-N66U.

The legal bit

  • You can read Sky Fibre Broadband’s T&Cs here.
  • Your old Sky fibre router is your property, but the software on it belongs to Sky. You’re not allowed to flash the firmware, and selling it could be dubious. Best hang on to it for as long as you’re a customer.
  • If you need to speak to Sky customer services the easiest thing to do would be plug your Sky router back in and pretend to be just like the rest of their customers. They’ll only support the hardware they’ve supplied.

I’m keen! But how?

  1. Obtain your Sky username and password by doing a little sniffing around your router.
  2. Unplug your Sky router and hide it in the back of a dark cupboard.
  3. Get a new router and flash the firmware on it to a Sky-compatible version.
  4. Put your Sky username into the new router and connect.
  5. Win!

Getting your Sky username and password

As you’re no doubt aware, you’re not told what the Sky username and password you use to connect to their network is. But it is tucked away in the innards of your Sky router, and the router does broadcast them when it connects, so if we watch the output from the router we can deduce what they are. I’m assuming you have the standard white Sky fibre router, which looks like this:

The white Sky fibre router

Essentially you need to install software called Wireshark and use it to snoop in on the packets the Sky fibre router broadcasts when it starts up. Full instructions for that are available here:

How to get the Sky Username and Password for the Sky Hub SR101

Set up your new router

I can personally recommend the Asus RT-N66U. It’s not cheap, but it does pack a lot of cool features. You can get refurbed ones for about £70-80 if you keep a lookout. I got mine because I wanted to do things like use OpenDNS to filter content on my network (I’ve got kids and want finer-grained control than the blunt tool of the ISP filters) and run a VPN so I can access my network when out and about. It’s also fast (gigabit ethernet and 5GHz wifi-n) and stable.

To set it up for Sky you’ll need to install a slightly modified firmware. Merlin’s custom firmware for the Asus RT-N66U router is a minimally modified version of the standard firmware. All the changes Merlin has made are open source, if you’re paranoid you can read the source code. Instructions are on Merlin’s site; it’s really not hard and there’s apparently no risk of bricking your router.

Once you’ve got the new firmware installed go to the router’s admin page (which will be at something like 192.168.0.1 in your browser) go to the “WAN” section and enter your Sky username and password into the Special Requirement from ISP > Manual client ID (for some ISPs). Here’s mine:

router

 

Note the single quotes, IIRC they are required, and don’t forget the | between @skydsl and the password. You may need to reboot the router and/or give it a bit before it connects, but it will. Enjoy your new router on Sky fibre!

 

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Fonera 2.0n Review

Posted in Computers, Gadgets, Tech on March 8th, 2010 by Andy

The Fonera is a compact green and black box. The multiple antennae betray the presence of high-speed wifi-n under the hood.

I’ve blogged about FON recently, but didn’t go into too much technical detail. The magic box behind it all is the Fonera router.

The latest iteration is the Fonera 2.0n, which unsurprisingly uses the new 802.11n standard for higher speeds and better range wifi. That alone is probably worth the £79 pricetag, but this beastie actually has a lot more tricks up it’s sleeve. Features include:

  • A seperate public wifi signal, giving the owner access to all FON hotspots worldwide.
  • USB port for adding storage, printers, soundcards, etc. With storage added the router functions like a NAS. With a printer added it works as a print server. Or you can plug in a USB hub and do both.
  • Transmission bit torrent client.
  • Download tool for file sharing sites (eg: Rapidshare).
  • Facebook, Picasa, Youtube and Flickr uploaders.
  • Plug in a 3G dongle and it’ll create a wifi hotspot from it. So you don’t even need a landline or ADSL connection to use it.
  • An open application framework for extending it’s capabilities.
  • As a “self-tweeting router” it has it’s own Twitter account, and will tweet you when your up/downloads are done.

On top of this it has all the usual router functionality such as DDNS, QoS, static and dynamic IP addresses, etc.

Overall it’s an impressive and flexible device, and FON seem committed to keeping it an open platform and encouraging people to play about with it. Personally I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a simple cheap NAS and torrenting solution. It does have one major drawback though. Bizarrely, it doesn’t include a modem. You will need an ethernet ADSL modem or a modem/router as well. However, I was surprised to find how well it played with my old BT Voyager modem/router. It’s just a pain to have a second box plugged in just to get the Fonera online. For such a feature-packed device it’d be nice if it could handle the ADSL connection as well.

Despite this weird shortcoming, I think it’s a cool device. Access to thousands of wifi hotspots for a one-off payment is a good deal. Chuck in wifi-n and the bucketload of useful features and I can forgive it for not having a modem.

Incidentally, if it’s access to the FON network you want, they also do a stripped-back wifi-g device that’ll start you FONing for only £29, which is a great deal.

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FON: Get access to thousands of wifi hotspots

Posted in Computers, Tech on March 4th, 2010 by Andy

Ever since buying a smartphone and a netbook i’ve been on the constant lookout for free wifi hotspots. Paying the exorbitant rates for paid access just isn’t an option. But what if you could get free access to thousands of hotspots worldwide? FON does just that, in a very cunning way.

To get access to FON’s network (which includes all BT OpenZone hotspots in the UK) you need to buy a FON wifi router and plug it into your broadband at home. These FON routers are actually pretty cool devices, and i’ve reviewed one here. Besides working just like your normal router handling your own network traffic, the FON devices also create a seperate FON hotspot using your connection. It’s totally secure and once you’re sharing your own connection you’ve got free access to all of FON’s hotspots worldwide.

To check out the FON hotspots near you, check out the FON maps.

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