Monday, July 12, 2010

The UniFi Installation Experience

In my post on HSBB last year, I wrote about the arrival of FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home) in my area of residence.

Well, I finally made the move of switching away from Streamyx broadband for the newly-introduced UniFi high-speed broadband (HSBB) service. In particular, I signed up for the VIP5 package which is a triple-play service i.e. 5Mbps Internet, IPTV and VoIP.

In this post, I thought I share my experience on the UniFi installation process.


It was a Tuesday morning at 10am on July 6, a crew of four installers from TM came with two reels of cables (see below) and big bags containing equipment.

Cable reels

Drop cable (black)

Indoor cable (white)

After the normal introductions, I lead the crew to the back of the house where the nearest pole with the fiber distribution box is located. I also took them to the rooftop.

I told them where I wanted the broadband termination unit, residential gateway, phone and IPTV set-up-box (STB) were to be placed.

After a quick survey, the crew leader briefed me on how the installation was going to take place.

In no time, they started working — first tackling the aerial fiber distribution box on the pole. At the same time, the crew made a hook on the side of a concrete structure on the rooftop (see below).

Pole to premise

Cable hook

That hook was to hold the black fiber cable pulled from the pole. The black cable ran along the side of the concrete structure leading to another fiber box which was affixed to the concrete wall (see below).

On-premise fiber box

From this box, a thin white fiber cable was pulled to a nearby window. The cable was so thin that only a small gap at the bottom part of the window was sufficient for the cable to gain entry into the house (see below).

Fiber cable premise entry point

Though not the most elegant way of bringing the cable in, at least there was no need to drill a hole through the wall as in some other installations.

Inside the house, this white cable ran straight down to another fiber box (see below). For this cable-run, the crew housed the cable in a conduit.

Indoor fiber boxIt was about 11:15am (after about an hour plus of outdoor work), all crew members gathered indoors and started hooking up and configuring the equipments (see below from left to right: DECT phone, broadband termination unit, residential gateway). They brought their own laptop for configuration and testing.

DECT phone, broadband termination unit, residential gateway

Since the household TV set is in the living room (front part of the house), I wanted the IPTV STB (see below) there. I provided them with a long CAT5 cable to connect the STB with the residential gateway for temporary testing purposes.


All these configuration and testing took about half-an-hour.

I was then given a sheet of paper containing several access passwords for different services.

Happy that everything was working, I did the sign-off and the crew left in their van at about 12pm.

So, the complete installation only took them 2 hours — a big contrast from the full day installation that I was initially told.

By the way, hats off to the TM installers. They were an efficient bunch and I appreciate their professionalism. I don’t normally give such a compliment after having had a bad experience with my Streamyx implementation in the past.

Terminating Old Phone Service and Streamyx

After doing some testing on my own and satisfied with the outcome, I went to TMPoint Bangsar to terminate the old phone service and my Streamyx broadband service just before their counter closing at about 5:30pm. I returned their old phone to them to avoid a penalty.

So, there you have it! I hope to share about my experience with the UniFi service itself in the near future.

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Ei said...

I will hopefully get mine done in my condo this month.

What I am worried about is whether they can do the wiring professionally & hide it? My condo is brand new & I don't want a million wires all over the place.

In fact I'd like the tv in the bedroom & the lounge to be hooked into IPTV and the phone & Internet in my home office.

I think for a condo they bring everything in through the phone lines which is a worry, both because I can't see how they can do the wiring nicely & also because I don't know if I can still keep my Streamyx as a backup.

Jason said...

@Ei: Yes, these are valid concerns.

For me, my IPTV set-top-box (STB) and the residential gateway are in separate areas of the house. At this time, I've not hooked the STB to the network yet. I'm considering getting those power-saving Aztech 200Mbps homeplugs for my IPTV setup.

Ei said...

I have the Aztech 85Mbps homeplugs and have been looking for the 200Mbps ones everywhere! The 85Mbps is not good enough to stream video, even standard video, let alone HD.

Anywhere in KL to get the 200Mbps units? I want 3.

Jason said...

@Ei: Yeah, homeplugs can be a hit or miss affair.

Anyway, the Aztech HL110E 200Mbps homeplugs are currently selling at Harvey Norman at RM139/unit.

You can also get the same homeplugs from Low Yat for only RM119/unit (cash and carry).

Ikobana Kepong said...

I just want to ask, any charge for the installment?

Jason said...

@Ikobana, do you mean installation charges? The installation fee of RM200 is waived during this introductory period which ends on 30th September.

zamniks said...

Hi Jason, correct me regarding the the diagram:
1. From fibre box1(external) to fibre box2(internal)
2. From fibre box2 to broadband termination unit
3. From broadband termination unit to residential getaway(WAN port?)
4. From residential getaway (LAN Port 1/2/3/4) to IPTV STB/Dect Phone.

I think I like your house Unifi setup digram but I want the DECT phone to be downstairs with IPTV STB. Does it mean I need to have 2 pairs of HomePlug?

Appreciate your feedback. Thanks

Jason said...

Zamniks, yes, the setup is as what you've mentioned except that the DECT phone is connected to the BTU via a regular phone cable.

I assume that the BTU and residential gateway are upstairs?

If you already have an existing phone wiring done connecting upstairs and downstairs, you're already good to go for the phone part.

All you need is just one pair of HomePlugs to hook up the residential gateway with the IPTV STB.

zamniks said...

Thank you Jason. Your explanation really ease my mind.

Yes!, BTU & Resedential Gateaway is upstairs.

Yes!, I have phone wiring ready connecting upstairs and downstairs.

So, I just need a pair of homeplug only at last. Latest price for ztech HL110E (RM92/unit) & Home Plug Aztech 106E (RM65/unit).

I think 106E is sufficient for me. Still can do HD right? Thanks again Jason. Keep up the good & informative articles!

My installation will be this coming Saturday, :o)

Jason said...

Zamniks, congrats on getting Unifi. :)

I'm not sure if the HL106E can sufficiently handle HD. In reality, you'll never get anywhere close to the rated transfer rate.

The safer bet is to go for the HL110E.

zamniks said...

Hi Jason,

At last, installation done today. Cloning your setup coz my house is with voids on centre of the house. So I would like to put the wireless router somewhere upstairs to give 'wide' coverage upstairs and downstairs. ;)

Thanks for your tips, I use Aztech HomePlug to 'wirelessly' connect the router upstairs with my STB downstairs. The HD channel works just fine.

Overall, happy with the service for now. Thanks again!

Jason said...

@Zamniks, glad to hear that you got your setup working. Enjoy your new broadband experience!

Lolita said...

Hi, may I ask if the HomePlugs need higher cable diameters for the wiring? I am currently renovating my home and changing all the wiring (35 year old house)..... do I need to change them to 10mm cables? Or can I just use 6mm cables? Sorry.... "girl" asking obvious questions :)

I am also planning to leave my BTU, Router & Phone upstairs, and use HomePlugs to bring my STB downstairs.


Jason said...

@Lolita, in the case of HomePlugs, I don't think the cable diameter matters.

Lolita said...

OK, thanks Jason, I'll give it a try and let you know the outcome, if my house does not burn down first :)

Anonymous said...

can someone tel me what is homeplug?

Jason said...

Hi Anonymous, you can read about homeplug here: