I have Verizon FiOS, and I don’t really like having to use the router that is provided with the service to run my home network.1 While it’s technically possible to plug any router into the Ethernet port on the Verizon Optical Network Terminal, there are significant drawbacks to doing so if your FiOS service also includes cable TV and home phone service.
Apparently, I am not the only person that feels this way. The smart people that frequent dslreports.com did some rather extensive research and have come up with quite a few different approaches to solving the problem of inserting their own customer-furnished equipment into FiOS home networks. There is even a handy compilation of these various approaches in tabular format describing the pros and cons of each.
Nonpareil among these is option #8 on this list; the so-called “three router” strategy. Aside from complexity (which it has in spades), this option’s only real drawback is that it apparently does not support something called “MediaShare,” which I don’t really care about.
If you are like me, after reading all about the different approaches on dslreports, you probably like what option #8 provides in terms of benefits but don’t like the idea of having three routers lying around your house. Having to find socket space for three wall warts was enough to turn me off all by itself.
There is a better answer though, and that answer is VyOS and x86 virtualization.
Using the following components, I successfully built a home network that has all of the upside benefits of option #8 (and more) while limiting physical footprint and power consumption. Additionally, I got a nice home lab out of it.
- ESXi hypervisor
- VyOS 1.1.1
- Dell PowerConnect 2708 managed switch
- Late–2012 Mac Mini
All of the software is freely available; ESXi can be used indefinitely at no cost, and VyOS is a free and open source fork of Vyatta, an enterprise-class router. The hardware set me back a little, but basic managed switches can be had on eBay for less than $100, and any old x86 hardware with at least 2 GB of RAM and an Ethernet port should probably be sufficient for your virtual host. Your mileage may vary based on different hardware specs, of course.
It’s worth noting now that this process requires that your connection to the Verizon ONT be through the Ethernet port, and not via coax to your current Verizon router (although, you will need to leave the coax as well for MoCA connections to your STBs). The best way to proceed is to get your Verizon router wired up via Ethernet to your ONT and have Verizon provision the Ethernet port before you introduce any additional complexity. Making sure that all is well with that configuration prior to making the changes described here is critical.
In my experience, and based on what I’ve read, Verizon is very responsive to requests to provision the Ethernet port and this shouldn’t be an obstacle. Just give them a call, and it can be done over the phone in a few minutes.
I hate to beat a dead horse here, but once more: Make sure your home network is functioning correctly with your Verizon router plugged directly into the ONT via category 5/5e/6 cabling before you proceed.
Table of Contents
Almost every part of this write-up builds upon or borrows techniques and approaches that I found online in one place or another; my role here is mostly as an integrator of these various practices. I have attempted to link directly to the original source where possible, but in some cases the original source has been lost to me. Nevertheless, I extend my thanks and appreciation to all of the people out there that published their knowledge online for me to find and build upon.
If you are asking “Why does it matter which router you use?” it is doubtful that the rest of this blog post is going to be of any interest to you. ↩