So anyway, shortly after my last post I found out Vianet already has my street lit up, so I have made the switch. Sorry Bell. I also did some networking for my friends using FibreOp, so I can present to you the following brief comparison.
Both services are a GPON-based (passive) fibre deployment. This means the layout is more similar to cable than DSL, in that their equipment (equivalent of DSLAM) sends and receives multiple subscribers' data down the same fibre, which eventually runs through an optical splitter and into X houses. Upload capacity is shared via TDMA, i.e. your-turn/my-turn/his-turn/etc., and is allotted based on demand and QOS rating. Both providers appear to be using VLANs to separate internet/voip/tv services as well as providing QOS for them. No idea if you can request higher priority for your own VOIP packets by tagging them or if that only works when the destination is the provider's server... I guess theoretically if it did work you could abuse it by making all of your traffic higher priority than your neighbours', but it's an interesting possibility. Likewise it would be nice to know if you can get basic TV channels without renting a box by setting up a device on a particular VLAN.
Vianet provides the Zhone model GPON-2424-NA modem, which has no wireless and no battery backup. I haven't logged in to poke around yet (supposedly it is locked?) but I have read some of the manual and it is pretty heavy material.
Bell Aliant is using the Actiontec R1000H, which does have integrated wireless but does not support IPv6. The current firmware version is very oddly laid-out - reminiscent of Thomson's Speedtouch modems, actually. Firmware seems to be developed on a custom basis and is therefore distributed only to the relevant provider (Bell's current version is apparently 33.00L.28) and there is no obvious way to upgrade it even if you had a file to flash. One nice feature is that if you don't know the username and password for the configuration pages, you can reset them by entering the unit's serial number - which hopefully is not visible from the network! Note that uPNP is disabled by default, so if you require any port forwarding you must log in. Strangely, the internal DHCP server does not support assigning specific IPs by MAC. If you prefer to manually forward ports instead of using uPNP, you will need to set each device to use a static IP outside of the modem's DHCP pool (which by default is 192.168.x.10-192.168.x.254) to prevent it from being assigned to a second device. This is not difficult, but of course if it's a mobile device and you bring it to another network, you'll probably need to remove the setting to get connected.
More info on the modem is available at:
»www.actiontec.com/produc ··· ?pid=212
»screenshots.portforward. ··· ault.htm
»forums.xbox.com/xbox_for ··· 793.aspx
(requires a Microsoft login)