The Unofficial Chello FAQ

Version 0.12 (22 July 2000)
Maintained by David Zanetti <>


Introduction, Disclaimer

This FAQ is intended to compliment the Official Chello FAQ on Chello's own website, and it not intended to cover topics covered there. You can find the Official FAQ at

Errors, omissions, etc are entirely possible and very likely. Therefore, like any FAQ on the Internet, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Feedback, additional questions (esp with answers), or corrections are very welcome.

I'd like to thank all those that have contributed information to this FAQ, without your additions this FAQ would be useless.

1. Cable Modems and Services

1.1 Saturn, Telstra, Netlink, Paradise, Chello.. arrgh, how do these companies fit together?

Quite a few of the players in this game have a kind of interrelationship, some of which are joint ventures (such as the cable modem service), others of which are just normal customer/provider relationships. Briefly:

The players in your cable modem connection are:

1.2 Does the cable modem run over my existing phone lines? Can I use my phone while the cable modem is in use?

The cable modem does not run over Telecom's phone network, it is carried by Saturn's Cable TV network. You will need to have Saturn available in your area to be able to use a cable modem. Your house will also need cables run from the street for the connection.

Because it does not use a phone line, you are free to run anything you like (including modems) over your phone lines. This is true whether your phone lines are supplied by Telecom or Saturn.

1.3 Can I use my modem to connect to the cable network?

No, Saturn will supply a modem for connecting to the cable network. It is not based on a "modem return path", like for example IHUGs SatNet.

1.4 What does my provider supply, and what do I need?

Your provider should supply the cable modem, an ethernet card for your PC, and a UTP cable to run between the ethernet card and the cable modem. You should not need to supply anything (other than a PC!) to connect.

Note that the installer will expect to open your PC up and install the ethernet card, so find out if doing so will void your warranty.

The cable modems supplied are manufactured by Com21 (, and will be either a COMport 1000 or 2000. (I happen to have a 2000 myself.)

1.5 Who offers Internet access over Saturn's network?

There are several providers:

1.6 What download/upload speeds does Saturn offer?

The cable network supports arbitrary download/upload pairs, up to ~30Mbit down and ~2.5Mbit up. However, two particular offerings are the most common:

Note that in real-world situations the real speed which you'll end up with depends heavily on the rest of the Internet. The bandwidth listed here is the maximum possible situation. Like most ISPs, there are no guarantees of minimum real bandwidth.

1.7 Can I get a static IP address with my cable modem?

Most providers arrange access using Telstra-Saturn's standard package, which is configured with static IP addresses. Chello have their own package, which only allows for dynamically-assigned addresses. So yes you can (actually will be forced to) have an static IP address with most providers offering the service, except Chello.

1.8 Does it work with non-Windows operating systems?

Yes, provided your OS can support an ethernet card. For Chello, you will also need to be able to run a DHCP client.

1.9 Can I use any ethernet card to connect to the cable modem? What sort of cable do I need?

Any ethernet card that supports UTP (10BaseT) should work fine, although an ethernet card and cable should be supplied with your install. For those interested, the cable is not a cross-over cable.

1.10 How does the cable modem differ from an ADSL modem?

The primary difference is that the cable modem is "dumb", it is more accurate to call it an ethernet bridge. It turns all customer connections into a single ethernet segment, much like a hub or switch would in a LAN. As a result, the IP address your computer has is live and not filtered in any way. The cable modem actually doesn't need to know anything about your IP address, too.

An ADSL modem is closer to a router in terms of operation. It has some understanding of IP, and routes packets into a PPP connection with the ISP. The IP address your computer has is private, and gets translated by the ADSL modem into the live address.

The pros and cons are fairly simple: Cable modems are unobtrusive, and offer no security to your computer. ADSL modems do manipulate your traffic, get in the way, and offer some security to your computer. Also, availability is limited with cable modems, since they depend on being near Saturn's Cable TV network, which is considerably smaller in coverage than Telecom's ADSL service. That's balanced by ADSLs copper quality and distance limits.

In the end, there's enough cons on both sides to annoy everyone *grin*.

1.11 If it's like a big ethernet segment, can I see other people's traffic?

No, the network acts more like a switch on a LAN. You will see broadcast traffic (both ethernet and IP) and your own traffic only. That said, bear in mind things like SMB (Windows file sharing) announce themselves using broadcast packets..

1.12 Where do I put my username and password for the connection?

Nowhere. Your access to your ISP is handled in the back end of the cable network transparently to you, so there's no username/password to set.

1.13 Is there a configuration interface to the cable modem?

Because the cable modem is reasonably "dumb", there is no end-user configuration interface. The modem itself does not have an IP address to connect to.

1.14 How secure is the connection provided? Will I need a firewall?

Your machine will have a public IP address, with no filtering done by the cable modem. It has about the same level of security as a normal dialup, in other words: none. If you are not reasonably careful about what you plug in, what you share, etc then you will be at risk.

Personally I wouldn't connect to the cable network without a firewall (and therefore, I do have a firewall in the way), but Your Mileage May Vary.

1.15 Will Unreal Tournament/IPSec/<insert protocol here> work over the connection?

Yes, the cable modem will not interfere in any way with any traffic sent or received. Anything you can do over a dialup or ISDN line, or any other normal Internet connection, you can do over cable.

1.16 Can I connect my NAT/Masq/l33t gateway to the cable modem?

Provided you have an ethernet interface on your gateway for the cable modem side (in addition to the one for your LAN side), there's no reason why you can't. At a minimum, it can provide firewalling, which is fairly critical given how open the cable connection is.

1.17 What's the latency (ping times) like

In theory, it should be about the same as ADSL at around 35ms, making it much better than a modem (at around 160-300ms) and worse than ISDN or a LAN (at 10ms and <2ms).

I have noticed some latency problems with Chello where it spikes adding 300ms at points that it typically shouldn't. It would appear that part of the service at the moment involves a tunnel from the US back to the NZ operation, and this is the source of the spike. I understand that it is intended to remove the tunnel further down the track.

By request, here's some traces from my Chello connection to various game servers, collected using mtr:

Host Loss Rcvd Sent Best (ms) Average (ms) Worst (ms)
To: 0% 50 50 19.15 69.60 236.79 0% 50 50 19.43 65.72 224.95 0% 50 50 19.77 68.55 196.31
To: 0% 50 50 11.87 62.46 224.03 0% 50 50 11.38 66.66 327.60 0% 50 50 29.57 87.92 221.08 0% 50 50 29.83 65.80 269.23 0% 50 50 29.52 79.86 191.50
To: 0% 50 50 16.61 59.55 245.71 0% 50 50 13.10 67.75 248.27 0% 50 50 28.10 77.74 266.39 0% 50 50 18.84 85.95 268.19

As you can see, WIX has a huge impact on shortening the number of hops between ISPs. The "Worst" ping times show a slight downside to cable modems, in that they can be very variable. The "Average" is a little harsh, it's hurt by the "Worst" ping times.

2. Chello Installation

2.1 How does Chello assign the dynamic address?

Since it's just a big ethernet segment, LAN-style protocols can be used. DHCP provides a very easy way to configure IP addresses, DNS servers and gateways, and it's what Chello uses to assign you an IP address.

If you have a firewall, you'll need to allow DHCP in from the outside world. it runs over UDP, with the server end on port 67 and the client end on port 68.

2.2 How often does the IP address change?

The lease time provided by the DHCP server is 24 hours, so it would be fair to say you will probably expect to see it change around that often. That said, DHCP is designed to try and maintain the same IP address for as long as possible (by the DHCP client requesting a re-lease of the last IP address it had), so it may end up being longer.

2.3 Will I need to set any routes, DNS servers, etc?

No, all of these should be set by the DHCP client automagically.

2.4 It looks like they only have web-based email, please tell me they have a POP server!

Yes, Chello does have a real POP server, at Use the same username and password you'd log into the web-based email with.

2.5 Do Chello have a proxy server? Do we have to use it?

Chello's proxy server is at, and you do not have to use it. There does not appear to be any intention to use transparent proxying.

2.6 What NIC (ethernet card) does Chello supply?

The card supplied to me was a D-Link DE-528CT, which appears to be a PCI NE2K clone. Should work with just about any (x86) OS, since the NE2K's are fairly ubiquitous.

2.7 Is it really flat rate?

It would appear so. But like any flat rate deal, how much real bandwidth you get compared to the advertised bandwidth is anyone's guess.

2.8 How fast is it?

Chello are, like most ISPs, oversubscribing. The problem is that if you're selling 512k connections to customers, you need a lot of bandwidth. Chello appear to lack that at the moment.

Right now, I can get good speeds from very local (specifically, Citylink/WIX connected sites), but anywhere from modem (3KB/s) upwards from remote sites. It would appear that the supply of bandwidth includes their own connection to Citylink, hence why it's free of any (practical) limits.

Update: I understand that Chello are progressing on getting more bandwidth. Hopefully the current problems are just early teething problems, rather than a specific plan to advertise a service they have no intention of delivering.. Still, that's the flat rate game, either live with it or choose a (non flat rate) provider..

2.9 Do Dynamic DNS services work with Chello? (or: how to get a static address with Chello)

Sure! I happen to use myself, but any service should work just as well for dialups. Actually, since Chello don't rotate your IP address very often, they work extremely well. works by installing a client (available for near every OS) and updating their DNS servers with it. Some DHCP clients for Unix allow you to run an arbitrary script when the lease changes, this works very well. You could also write a small script to monitor the IP address, and do the update when it changes. (Note: I've never used the Windows clients, I do not know how well they work..)

2.10 Special remarks about Windows 98 Second Edition and Chello

If you have Windows 98 Second Edition ensure you tell the installer this! It would appear that the Chello install CD tries to replace the version of Internet Explorer in Win98SE (which has 5.01) with an older version and breaks various things as a result. If anyone can confirm this has actually taken place for them, please drop me a note.

2.11 MTU fiddling may improve performance

Part of Chello's international access is via a tunnel, which means the MTU is smaller (because of encapsulation overhead) than a clean connection. Try a value sightly lower, around 1420 for example, which should mean the tunnel won't cause performance problems.

General Problems

3.1 How do I stop Samba from offering things over the cable modem?

Samba by default binds to any broadcast-capable interface, which will include your cable modem interface. You can tell Samba to bind to only your internal interfaces by adding to your smb.conf:

interfaces = eth0 lo
bind interfaces only = true
and replacing eth0 with your internal interface, and replacing the IP address/netmask of that interface.

3.2 How do I make Squid use Chello's proxy?

Noting the problems above, add the following to your squid.conf:

cache_peer parent 8080 7 no-query no-digest default
prefer_direct off

Squid (2.2 at least) by default doesn't like to talk to proxies it can't query by ICP or other cache-to-cache methods, and prefer_direct tells it to use a parent cache for anything. However, if the chello cache is down, Squid will still fall back gracefully to going direct to the site, making it reasonably reliable.

3.3 Debian 2.2 and rwhod

If you're running Debian 2.2, you might want to tell the rwhod daemon (which is installed by default) not to bind to any broadcast interface, which would include your cable modem interface.

Edit /etc/init.d/rwhod and replace the line (in the "start" section):

start-stop-daemon --start --oknodo --quiet \
--exec /usr/sbin/rwhod


start-stop-daemon --start --oknodo --quiet \
--exec /usr/sbin/rwhod -- -i eth0

Where eth0 is your internal interface.

3.4 Why can't I ping other Chello customers?

*shrug* Beats me, but it seems Chello are not allowing customers to "talk" to each other. As at the time of writing, I have advise Chello of the fault, but it has not been resolved.

Update: Saturn have installed (or will be soon) a new head-end for the cable network, which will hopefully relieve pressure on the existing one for traffic. This should remove the need to prevent traffic between Chello customers. It should also be pointed out this decision appears to have been forced on Chello, rather than a request.

3.5 Why doesn't my IP address on Chello resolve (ie: no reverse DNS entry)?

The NZ servers are correctly set up, but either the delegation has not be changed, or the servers that have been delegated are not shadowing the zones from the NZ servers correctly.

Address:  nameserver =  nameserver =     internet address =     internet address =



Non-authoritative answer:  nameserver =  nameserver =

Update: This is being actively worked on by Chello to resolve. It would appear the problems are more political than technical.

The Unofficial Chello FAQ Ends