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As an AT&T employee, I am required to put in a disclaimer. So, here goes. I do work not in the U-Verse group. The opinions in this instructable are my own and do not represent the company's views in any way. I don't have access to proprietary U-verse information, and so there is no proprietary or inside information disclosed in this instructable. I cannot guarantee you will see the same performance improvement. I don't know if this violates any U-verse terms of service. So, do this at your own risk.

The goal of this instructable is to improve U-Verse download speeds on the Max Plus plan from 18Mbps to 22Mbps by doing the following:

  • disable HomePNA and switch to ethernet
  • disable built-in 802.11b/g wireless access point (AP) with an external 802.11n or 802.11a/c AP
  • add a gigabit switch

My internet service provider (ISP) is AT&T U-verse. My U-verse system was installed more than 6 years ago. GigaPower is available in my area so I will be upgrading soon.

My current installation comes with a 2-Wire residential gateway. The gateway provides TV over coax using HomePNA, four Ethernet ports, and a built-in wireless access point (AP). The gateway’s four Ethernet ports are limited to 100Mbps. I have the Max Plus plan, which has a download speed of 18Mbps.

I don't have a satisfactory explanation for why this works. My theory is the Residential Gateway's CPU is underpowered to handle HomePNA, ethernet and the internal AP. Disabling HomePNA and the AP allows the gateway to focus on routing packets.

HomePNA

My U-verse receivers (Cisco IPN330HD) and DVR supports HomePNA so the coax cable carries both 1) TV and 2) internet. In a normal setup, coax goes into the receiver and HDMI comes out and goes to a TV. However, it is possible to use the ethernet coming from a U-verse receiver as input to an internet enabled TV. This is not recommended, but it works.

A better solution is to simply eliminate HomePNA and coax and only use ethernet.

WiFi

My family uses wireless devices, such as, printers, mobiles, laptops, kindles, Internet of thing (IoT) devices, smart TVs, and iPads more often then we do wired devices, such as, TVs, servers, and desktops. Almost all of my wireless devices support 802.11n and some support 802.11a/c. Sometimes the wired and wireless devices are talking to the Internet, but often they are talking between each other.

The 2-Wire gateway’s wireless access point supports wifi 802.11 b/g, which means the AP is a bottleneck limiting wireless speeds to ~50Mbps.

A better solution is to switch off the Residential Gateway's internal AP and replace it with an external 802.11n or 802.11a/c AP that can run at 150Mbps or more.

Step 1: Try It Before You Commit

Before committing to rewiring the whole house, run some experiments.

Using the existing setup, run speed test and measure download speed. Speed test will vary based on usage, time of day and other factors. Run speed test a minimum of 3 times.

Run three ethernet cables from U-verse Residential Gateway to a U-Verse DVR and to two U-verse receivers. I used three 100 ft cables, but shorter or longer cables may be needed in your home. Remove the coax cables from the receivers and DVR. My residential gateway has 4 LAN ports and one WAN port. Connect one end of the ethernet cable to a LAN port on the residential gateway and the other end to the DVR or receiver. It doesn't matter which LAN port is used.

If you have more U-verse receivers connected using coax, pull the power plug on those.

Disable HomePNA on the U-verse residential gateway.

  • Open a browser
  • Enter Residential Gateway Address (192.168.1.254)
  • log in - the username and password should be written in your U-verse manual. If not, they are on the residential gateway
  • Go to Settings, Lan, Wired Interfaces and clear the check mark on HomePNA
  • Click Save

Restart the residential gateway and check to be sure HomePNA is disabled. I restart or power cycle my U-verse devices by unplugging and plugging in the power cord.

Restart the receivers and DVR. You may have to power cycle them.

It may take 10 to 15 minutes for everything to restart. Wait until your everything is working. Check that TV is working on each of the devices. Check that you can play a recorded program from a different room.

After everything is working, run speed test and measure download speed.

If speed test is much better with HomePNA off, then rewire the house! Go to next step.

If speed test is not much better, than disable the internal wireless access point (wifi).

  • Open a browser
  • Enter Residential Gateway Address (192.168.1.254)
  • log in - the username and password should be written in your U-verse manual. If not, they are on the residential gateway
  • Go to Settings, Lan, Wireless and change Wireless Interface and SSID Broadcast to disabled.
  • Click Save

Run speed test and measure download speed.

If speed test is much better with HomePNA and the internal AP off, then rewire the house! Go to next step.

If speed test is not much better, then plug the coax back in, remove the ethernet cables, re-enable HomePNA and re-enable the internal AP. Power cycle as required. Sorry, but this won't work for you.

Step 2: Gather Parts

I won't recommend parts or provide pricing for this project here is what I use:

  • 16 port GigaBit NetGear switch that supports VLANs (two 8 port switches will also work)
    • Size the switches to meet your needs
    • As an AT&T employee, I get great discounts on AT&T products and services. So, I have 6 receivers and 1 DVR.
  • 802.11ac or 802.11n LinkSys wireless Access point
    • These are overkill given my current download bandwidth. But I work in Wi-Fi and I am constantly playing with APs.
  • Ethernet crimping tool
  • Ethernet CAT6 wire, connectors and CAT6 cables
  • U-Verse Residential Gateway, Receivers and DVR
  • Recessed ethernet wall plates

Step 3: Rewire the House Replacing Coax With Ethernet

My house has 6 U-verse receivers and 1 DVR. In addition, some of the televisions are internet enabled. Size your switches to handle your needs. I have three 8 port gigabit switches. Actually, I have one 8 port switch and one 16 port switch with two VLANs. My VLAN maps the 16 ports on a physical switch into two virtual switches with 8 ports. One switch is exclusively for U-verse, one is for smart TVs, and one is for hardwired devices.

I use a 16 port switch with two VLANs to minimize the number of power outlets I am using.

Connect port 1 on each switch to one of the LAN ports on the U-verse receiver.

U-verse switch

All U-verse receivers and the U-verse DVR must be on its own "u-verse" switch (or VLAN). HomePNA uses multicast. And, I assume but don't know for sure, that some features of U-verse use multicast. U-verse multicast packets won't harm computers, but U-verse multicast packets are unnecessary traffic on a computer-only network.

Television switch

Internet enabled TVs can be thought of as computers and are not part of the U-verse network. In addition to internet enabled TVs, my streaming media devices (Raspberry Pi, Roku and Apple TV) are connected to the "television" switch.

Computer switch

All other computer and hardwired devices, including the 802.11 AP are connected to my computer switch.

My original U-verse setup used coax from the Residential Gateway to each U-verse receiver and to the DVR.

I disconnected all of the coax from the U-verse devices and ran a minimum of two CAT6 cables to each room with a TV or computer. Each U-verse Receiver, the U-verse DVR and all internet enabled TVs were connected to a 16 port gigabit switch. Port one on the television gigabit switch was connected to the U-verse Residential Gateway.

Running cables and crimping connectors on to the wire are not my best skills. There are some very good instructables on how to do this.

Run CAT6 from Residential Gateway to each location with a receiver or DVR, Computer or Smart TV. Terminate the CAT6 leaving 6-8 ft extra cable on each end. I like to use recessed ethernet wall plates, because the connector won't bend when furniture is pushed up against the cable.

Label Cables

I cut a 1/4inch x 1inch piece from an index card. I write a cable name (Den, HomeTheatre, Roku, Ben's TV, Ben's Computer, Ben's U-verse Receiver) on the index card, and then fold a 4 inch piece clear shipping tape in half. The middle piece of the tape is around the cable and I place the label on one side of the tape and then press the tape together. Trim any excess tape.

Also, label the wall outlets: TV, Computer, U-verse.

Connect everything

Connect TV cables to TV switch, and other cables to other switches. Run cables from wall connectors to smart TVs, receivers and computers.

Step 4: Disable HomePNA and Install External AP

Disable HomePNA on the U-verse residential gateway.

  • Open a browser
  • Enter Residential Gateway Address (192.168.1.254)
  • log in - the username and password should be written in your U-verse manual. If not, they are on the residential gateway
  • Go to Settings, Lan, Wired Interfaces and clear the check mark on HomePNA
  • Click Save

Restart the residential gateway and check to be sure HomePNA is disabled. Restart or power cycle every U-verse device (Residential Gateway, DVR and Receivers) by unplugging and plugging in the power cord.

It may take 10 to 15 minutes for everything to restart. Wait until your everything is working. Check that TV is working on each of the devices. Check that you can play a recorded program from a different room.

Disable the Residential Gateway's HomePNA:

  • Open a browser
  • Enter Residential Gateway Address (192.168.1.254)
  • log in - the username and password should be written in your U-verse manual. If not, they are on the residential gateway
  • Go to Settings, Lan, Wireless and change Wireless Interface and SSID Broadcast to disabled.
  • Click Save

Install the external AP following the AP's directions.

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