A couple of years ago I had ADSL - back in the heady days of unlimited plans, high speeds and cheap access. The market went through something of a shakedown as providers realised their initial promises were expensive to maintain as usage grew. Plans changed and, like many, I went back to dialup. Nowadays, ADSL is making something of a resurgence. The speeds are lower (512kb/sec more common than the 1.5Mb/sec of before) and plans are generally data capped, but there are reasonably-priced offerings around.
One way to save a few bucks off the setup cost of ADSL is to provide your own modem. No, your old 56k modem won't work, so you'll need to get another magic box with flashing LED's on it. If your provider charges AUD$250 for a basic ADSL modem, but you can find one somewhere else for only $190, there's $60 - or, nearly a month's ADSL charges in my case - you've saved. If you're really savvy, you can get a modem that saves you money AND has better features than the typically fairly basic ones the ISP's offer. One such cheap but feature-laden modem is the Billion BIPAC-711CE, and PCRange.BIZ are bringing them into the country.
Who are Billion, you ask? I've not heard of them before either - this is the first product of theirs I've seen in Australia. According to their website, they've been around for 29 years, employ nearly 1000 people in Taiwan and mainland China and focus on communications gear and power supplies. Support and warranty issues should be handled locally (in Australia) by PC Range anyway, so there shouldn't be any concerns there. The modem sports the "A-Tick" and "C-Tick" logos, so it has been approved for use on Australian phone lines and power circuits.
In the box you get the modem itself, power adapter, setup/driver CD, quick-start manual and cables for ethernet, USB and phone-line connection. PC Range also provide another setup CD which isn't shown, but we'll cover later.
The front of the unit has the status LED's you'd expect - Link and Activity for the Ethernet and ADSL ports, with Power and a SYS indicator. The SYS LED flashes when everything is ok, which is a bit counter-intuitive to me, but no big deal.
On the back we have power, USB, Ethernet and phone-line connectors, clearly labelled.
Not just a modem?
This modem not only functions as a conventional ADSL modem, that can be connected to your PC via either USB or Ethernet. It can also serve as a router between a home or small office network and the internet. Using Network Address Translation (NAT) and Application-Level Gateway features, it can provide a firewall, protecting PC's on your network from certain types of Internet attacks.
There is a full list of specifications here and a list of frequently-asked questions here.