We have been deploying Calix 844’s for the past few months at SandyNet, and we have had almost no issues, and have received almost no complaint regarding the units. Calix did a great job designing these units, and in my personal opinion, they are a large step up from the 836g units. Receiving them almost hot off the production line, we quickly rushed these things to deployment, and I will admit, I think they are one of the big reasons our fiber deployment has been so successful so far. From a customer standpoint, they need basic services such as reliable fast internet, dual band WiFi and an easy to use UI. The GigaCenter combines all of those main features, and more into one slick looking box. We can even remote manage these boxes so if a customer does not know how to change their SSID, or security key, we can now do it from the comfort of our office(through consumer connect), instead of making a house call for a five minute fix. So far, we have been extremely satisfied with these ONT’s, since they simply work. Time and time again, at SandyNet, we have acquired different devices in hope of finding a solution that simply works. We did not find it in Ubiquiti, Ruckus, Proxim, Mikrotik, etc. Mixing and matching these pieces of hardware in a production environment can sometimes result in a lot of problems (Like trunking between Mikrotik and Cisco). Building a stand alone Calix system from the ground up, has been an overwhelmingly pleasant experience. Okay, I will admit, it was rough until we understood the system and how to configure it, but once we got our bearings, it was pretty smooth sailing. Some minor issues were firmware bugs that were quickly resolved. And we mean quickly. We’re not talking about firmware upgrades that take six months and are more detrimental than useful, *cough* UBNT. Simple problems with memory leaks or incompatibility with 844’s and some new Macintosh’s were resolved in a very reasonable time. Firmware upgrades are a breeze, and overall, having such a great ONT has already saved up so much time, and has allowed us to focus on other projects and problems such as continuing the deployment of our fiber network.
From a technician standpoint at SandyNet, the provisioning of an ONT is very easy. We pull the unit off the shelf in the morning, and input the FSAN into CMS and record it in our database, and send the unit out with our installer to be placed in a customers home. Once installed, the ONT upgrades its firmware, reboots and then applies its configuration. That is all there is to it. The customer is now online. One unit contains Ethernet, WiFi, RJ-11 ports and modem into one box. Customers no longer need to purchase a wireless router, and most of our deployments contain only an 844. The simplicity of the device makes it mighty attractive to our customers and us, since it is less complicated for the customer, and it is all squeezed into one device that we can manage easily. Most of our customers do not know how to change their WiFi options, or what the best practices are, so they often call in after being installed, requesting us to help configure the device. Other customers have enough background knowledge to login locally and change their options. Either way, the setup mo-betta than our previous infrastructure.
Now, all I have done is praise Calix for these units. That is not all I intend to do. Some customers have searched for help in configuring their ONT 844’s, and that is what is next.
Configuration of the 844-
Our installers should be placing a sticker on the ONT that lists the factory default settings for the modem. It should include the SSID and Key to connect to the WiFi, and the default IP for the web interface on the device. Below that, there is a username/password that is the default login info for the device. Before customizing your modem, complete the following.
Connect the computer you are using to configure the modem to one of the Ethernet ports on the ONT. If you are changing WiFi settings over WiFi, you’re gonna have a bad time. Once you are connected through a patch cable, you may open up your favorite browser and navigate to the gateway IP (Generally 192.168.1.1) and input the username and password (Username: admin, Password: *checkthesticker*). You should be greeted with a friendly looking page like below.
From here, we have a few options:
Status – will show you information regarding the unit, and its many status including devices, configurations of WiFi and any associated devices.
Quick Start – is a simple configuration wizard that helps customers quickly configure their ONT.
Wireless – provides all options for configuring any WiFi related feature.
Utilities – provides troubleshooting programs to help determine possible problems, or view log information
Advanced – holds all of the less common options for ONTs including port forwarding, QoS, Routing and Network options
Support – provides details when receiving help from a SandyNet technician
Most of the configuration will simply be done under the Wireless tab, since everything else is pre-configured, or not commonly changed.
Under the Wireless tab, there are four side menu buttons, 2.4G Network, 5G Network, Advanced Radio Setup and WPS. For the sake of making this simple, we are only going to operate within the 2.4 and 5 G Network buttons.
Note: 2.4G is currently the most common frequency for WiFi, so this radio should probably be used. 5G is standard on all devices within the past couple of years, and can be enabled if your devices support it.
First, lets make sure we have the 2.4 radio turned on. It is on by default, but select the Radio Setup button under the 2.4G Network button the left hand side. make sure the Wireless radio is set to on and now off. Hit apply after you have made your change.
Next, lets give our 2.4GHz network a good name. Select the SSID Setup tab and select the SSID that is named CXNKXXXXXXXX and make sure it is enabled. Now you get to be creative (or not so creative) and change the name of your wireless network. A lot of our customers want to keep their previous WiFi configuration, so if you wish to do so, fill out the Rename SSID box with your previous wireless network name (It is case sensitive). If not, come up with a good identifier for your WiFi, and no, FBI-surveillance-van-3 is not a good name, since everyone seems to set their WiFi to that.
Hit apply and lets move onto security.
Under the security button, you will need to now select your newly renamed SSID from the dropdown menu labeled SSID (Network Name). Now we get to select the security type.
The following options are available:
WPA-WPA2-Personal – Combines both encryption methods of WPA and WPA2 for maximum compatibility of devices. This will except the passphrase in both encryption levels, making is less secure than WPA2, but most function for all devices.
WPA2-Personal – The strongest encryption method for WiFi at the time of this article. Any non-compatible WPA2 devices will be unable to connect, so make sure all of your devices are compatible.
WEP – Is extremely weak, and in my book is not an encryption. There is no algorithm, just a HEX code encrypting the data, making it extremely unsecured.
Security-Off – makes the network open for anyone to connect. There is no password.
Pick your desired security type and then move on to the encryption type. For WPA and WPA2, I recommend AES, since it is the best. For compatibility you may enable TKIP or both.
Now you can set your security key. If you wish to keep the ridiculously long default key, be my guest, but most people want to name it to their pet or something easily guessable. Hit the button Use Custom Security Key and type in your key. Hit Apply when you are done.
Woot! you have configured your 2.4G network to be whatever you wanted! If you wish to enable the 5G network, do the same thing under the 5G button.
As you can see, the Calix GigaCenter UI is very easy to use, and pleasing to the eye. Configuration of WiFi is extremely simple, not to mention its super dooper range! 🙂 We are happy with these devices, and we believe customers are too. Like always if you have questions regarding me, my poor humor or how I became such an awesome person, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. But if you are a customer in need of help with WiFi, SandyNet or the City of Sandy contact them, not me at: email@example.com or call 503-668-2923, and you might get me on the line!