The ATT U-verse 2Wire 3800HGV-B. I am not a fan…

I find it fascinating that AT&T would create an (admittedly awesome) SOHO Internet offering, and then make it useless for anything but web surfing.

I’ve hosted web sites / e-mail / FTP / etc. at home and for small businesses on connections as slow as dialup, ISDN, and 256k DSL. You would think that it would be wonderful to host a site behind a connection that was 50 MB down and 25 MB up. I suppose it would be – if you didn’t have to sacrifice your basic network functionality to use the AT&T 2Wire router.

The scenario I’m supporting is a small one. A single SBS 2008 server, a handful of workstations, a couple of printers, and our aforementioned beloved 2Wire.

Everything was working well until a few months ago. AT&T remotely updated the firmware, and then poof, no one could get to the server anymore. It just took a little investigation to find out why. DHCP had been re-enabled on the 2Wire. That was odd. We had been issuing IPs from the server. The server also provided DNS and WINS, so having it provide DHCP as well only made sense. I knew AT&T required you to use their 2Wire for DNS for the telephony and television services, so DNS on the server used the 2Wire as a forwarder. Everything had been working, but now with DHCP enabled on the 2Wire, DHCP shut down on the server. No problem. DHCP was probably on by default, new firmware = reset to default settings. I’ll just turn DHCP off again, release the addresses on the workstations, and all will be well again.

OK, into the 2Wire, networking, DHCP, and off. Um, wait. Disable? A checkbox next to enable? Nada. Apparently you CANNOT DISABLE DHCP on a 2Wire with the current firmware. Downgrade? Nope. Well, at the very least I can set the 2Wire’s DHCP to use the server for DNS and WINS. That setting has to be somewhere… You see where I’m going with this?

Apparently U-verse customers now have to use their router as DHCP and DNS. You have no choice. So, if you want to use split DNS, sorry. You’re out of luck. I use split DNS in almost every LAN I set up, so this was a major annoyance. This isn’t just to allow internal / external access to internal named resources without using NAT loopback, but maybe you might have heard of this little thing called Active Directory? It’s kind of a big deal on Windows networks, and it is more than a little dependent on DNS. I hear it might catch on.

So, the best option to maintain all my Windows functionality would be to connect a router / firewall to the 2Wire, and separate it from the computers and printers  – leaving the 2Wire, the DVRs, and the phones on a separate network. That means the PCs go through 2 firewalls on the way out, and inbound services have to go through 2 layers of NAT, but it would work. Actually, I take that back. The best option would be for the 2Wire to work in a way that made sense, but as AT&T says, their obligation to you ends when you can surf the Internet. Being able to run your business so you can pay them for that privilege is apparently irrelevant.

One last piece – I can’t easily use my 2 firewall option, because this network is 1500 miles away. I would be loathe to try to walk someone through the required hardware and software configuration required to make this all work well enough for me to regain access to finish the job.

So we fall back on something we all love because they are so easy to maintain – host files. I can’t even manage them with logon scripts because users can’t find the server at logon.

Ah, for the good old days of 256k raDSL behind a Cisco 675 or a Netspeed 202…

8 thoughts on “The ATT U-verse 2Wire 3800HGV-B. I am not a fan…

  1. I ran into the same problem tonight setting up my home network. The proper way to set it up is little tricky, but you install a 3rd party router/firewall and configure it for DHCP. Once the 3rd party firewall gets the IP via DHCP from the 2wire modem, on your 2wire modem set up the firewall for DMZPlus. This will actually assign an external IP and NOT a private one to your firewall.

    Also, I think if you enable “Router behind Router” detection on your w wire modem, and install your 3rd party router/firewall, if you try to access the 2 wire web interface, it will alert you of it and give you an option to configure it automatically.

  2. Pingback: The U-Verse Gateway…To Hell

  3. Will you tell me if uverse internet is really better than AT&T DSL? I have been reading and I am so very confused. Some sites say it is much slower. I am a novice. I am hoping you will help me. I stumbled on your site. I cureently have a 2wire router and no problems at all. AT&T says that my speed will increase with uverse to 12 mbs from 6 with the DSL. Some forums say that is not true. I live in Baton Rouge, LA. They would be charging me a few dollars less per month ($5) and waived installation ($149) and activation ($36). Help me please.

    • In the experience I had, U-Verse was faster. It does add complexity if you’re using it in a small business.

  4. i used an old pc, installed clearOS and now we have a business class router behind it which does ALOT more then the conventional gateway. Logging, Vlans, Vpn, Web proxie, blocking by protocol, Hella firewall, Ftp and webserver if desired all in one box.. I so far havent had any problems with this setup and SBS 2008.. Definatly worth the small amount of power this p3 pulls :)

  5. I found a way around it. As joking said put a router behind it. So you only connect 1 port to the Att gateways switch.. run that to a routers wan port. configure the addition router to your likings ect… disable dhcp whathaveu.. then gointo the att gatway and set dmz to be for the router (which should now show up like the pcs do)… so basically this makes the modem dumb (no firewall ect) it will also issue your 2nd party router a wan address.. then configure the wireless, firewall and ports ect as you deem necessary.. i used the setting for the att, and set my servers and router using the 192.168.1.X addys.. only drawback (Which I like) is any wireless clients on the att modem will not beable to access the resources on your 2nd party router.. however with wireless on the 2nd router all is good.. NTM friends/family come over and you DONT want them on your network, they can use the wireless from the gateway.. I run server 2008, PBX server ect like this no PROBLEM

  6. we too have had the fun experience with SBS 2008 and Uverse. Did you ever get your network running again? if so, how? At this point we are recommending that the customer go to business DSL because of all the issues we have had so far.



    • Yes, the customer is up and running, behind a firewall separating the computer network from the 2Wire network. Of course, that also meant an internal WAP because the 2Wire is essentially just a gateway now, but all is well.

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