The company Extra-LAN is the first one that offers last mile fiber connection to any household within its area of opeation. The largest ISP in Taiwan, hinet.net, only offers so-called "hi-building" for selected apartment buildings. Since hinet.net enjoys a monopoly in Taiwan for it semi-governmental status, I certainly don't want to let them earn any money from me.
So I ordered a 2 Mbps fiber subscription from Extra-LAN. It costs NT$599/month, which is significantly lower than ADSL with 2Mbps/128kbps download/upload speed. And it should be symmetric 2 Mbps. :-)
The hardwareTwo technicians come to my apartment and it took them less than an hour to get the "ethernet wire" from downstairs to my apartment unit at 14F. It seems the "ethernet wire" they use in the cable tunnel is not the usual one otherwise anyone can just open up the access door and connect to it without paying anything. They used an FBB box to "convert" the signals to normal ethernet ones. See the photo below.
ConfigurationSetting up my iMac (G4 1 GHz) for direct connection is a breeze. Just type in the IP address, netmask, gateway and name server settings and it worked out of box. Setting up my wireless access point (AP) isn't much harder, either. It is a matter of connecting the box to the AP then the AP to iMac through a fast ethernet hub. Copying all the settings to the AP and re-configuring my iMac for DHCP are all that's needed.
Test rideI use a 22MB file for speed tests. Downloading it from the academic network in Taiwan takes 1'43", or 227 kB/s. That's nearly the wire speed!
Uploading, however, is much slower from my iMac. It is a miserable 10 kB/s.
I tried again with my new ThinkPad X41. It reached the same download speed but the upload speed is much faster, around 100 kB/s.
I called the customer service and they quickly pointed out that it requires a network card with 802.3x capability to reach full upload speed. And the guy said that most modern network cards support 802.3x.
Without knowing exactly what 802.3x means, I tried to isolate the problem. Since the X41 is new, first I connected it directly to the FBB box and, viola! Both upload and download are at ~ 230 kB/s. That excluded X41 as the guilty party. Next I connected the old iMac directly to the FBB box. Well, it is somewhat shaky. The upload can reach wire speed but the fluctuation is large. In the end the average is about 170 kB/s. Still much better than 10 kB/s!
Now I have to point my finger to the hub, which is a PCI FX-05EA. After checking the manual, indeed 802.3x is NOT listed as a supported standard.