When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

10 July 2005

Westell Versalink 327W problems

So, it turns out that the Westell Versalink 327W, the modem/wireless router combo that I use to connect to the Internet(s) via Verizon aDSL, is a known piece-of-shit.

I've been having occasional problems with dropped wireless connections since I got the thing, but in the last few weeks it's become really, really bad. Previously, I could power-cycle the Versalink, or switch wireless networking on and off via the Versalink's web interface, and get signal back, but now even that's not working.

So I call Verizon's help line - 1 800 567 6789, for those of you playing along at home.

(Parenthetically, I should explain that I've been a Verizon DSL customer since the week after it became available in my Manhattan neighborhood, and I have generally been quite pleased with the quality of service and the technical support that I have received the few times that I've needed to call.)

I get a very nice technician on the phone. I explain to him the problems that I've been having, and to forestall the ritual first-level tech support script run-through, explain that I have already power-cycled the Westell Versalink 327W as well as all connected PCs, be they wired or wireless, have run internal troubleshooting, and for good measure also sacrificed a chicken and waved it vaguely over the box.

We run through a little additional question-and-answer, and there is a strained silence on the other end of the line.

Uh-oh, I thinks to myself. Here it comes.

"Well," the tech begins tentatively, "you're having hardware problems, all right. Frankly, this is a known problem with the 327W, and in fact we haven't been shipping these units to customers for the last several weeks..."

Fine, I say. Ship me whatever you've got that's decent as a replacement. I hear that Linksys makes a pretty good wireless router these days.

(In the background, on the computer with the working, hardwired connection, I am Googling "Westell 327W problem," which I should have already done, in retrospect. Ah, hell... 4,000 hits.)

It turns out that he can't do that. Doesn't have the authority. If he orders a replacement for me, and they have any of these defective beasts in stock, guess what I'm gonna get?

"But I don't WANT another 327W," I whine.

"Neither would I," he agreed.

He tells me that my best bet is to call Verizon Billing, open Monday-Friday from 8am to 8pm, and tell them that my modem is defective and insist on a non-Westell replacement device.

Because, you know, everybody in Verizon Support knows that the device I have is a piece of shit, but nobody has the authority, not even his supervisor, to authorize the shipment of a non-piece-of-shit replacement.

Here's a hint, guys: When your Customer Support is bright, polite, knowledgeable, and UTTERLY INEFFECTUAL, it's not very good Customer Support, is it? You've got a known problem and a system that isn't set up to deal with it -- in fact, is reinforcing the problem by shipping known-bad equipment as a replacement for known-bad equipment.

So I'll talk to the Billing Weasels on Monday. I wonder how they're set up to deal with disgruntled, technically knowledgeable customers?

In the meantime, the laptop (which I'm typing on now) is tethered to the router by a length of Cat 5 cable that, mercifully, I still had lying around the house. I, my wife, and both dogs have already tripped over the damn thing... only the cat, so far, is successfully avoiding the Cat 5.

Is anybody using Road Runner cable modem service in Manhattan who likes it? (shudder)

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you have any updates on the westell modem problems. I just got this modem and so far it does not work, the DSL light keeps blinking. Verizon is checking the DSL line from outside and will take them 48 hrs to rectify. I was also shipped a wired westell and may end up using that if this POS does not work. BTW i have Timewarner roadrunner cable modem in queens and it rocks. Only downside is that my six months of $29.95 per month is up and will go up to $49.95 hence the switch to verizon DSL.

Anonymous said...

Any updates to Westell Versalink 327W? I have the same damn problem with that piece of shit.

Amos said...

Had problems at first, got a new line, works now.

Anonymous said...

Same problem. Spent an hour and a half in a chat session with a Verizon tech (never could find a phone number for tech support). They're shipping a new modem. I'm hoping it's not another Westell 327, but it probably will be.

Anonymous said...

Returned the westell 327w and got the wired westell 2200. Works a lot better. Connected it to my Netgear wireless router and everything is working fine. Only problem is I get speed of 1167kbps in zip code 11375.
Verizon promised upto 3.0 Mbps. Maybe there are some modem settings that can be tweaked to get higher speed(like disabling DHCP server on the modem and enabling it to be a routing bridge)?

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear the outcome on this. I just received one of these POS router/modems. I have tweaked every setting and reset it back to factory defaults for shits and giggles. Only have a steady connection when it is wired. I have enabled my WEP and WPA encryption but No Dice. I am wondering if it is the modem or the very weak linksys network down the street blowing me out. I have set my network as the top priority. Send me an email at mcfeeets@hotmail.com if you have a solution on this. Should I demand a wired modem and get a wireless router?

Anonymous said...

I just took my 327W off and put in Actiontec GT701-WG, configure for PPPoE, put in userid@verizon.net and the password, and it works like charm. I get full 3k/768k with this puppy.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to say that I've dumped the entire Verizon DSL service today. So I'm DSL free! Decided to move to cable instead. Back in June, they disconnected me without me knowing and then it took a month to set up again. Needless to say, I've been very patient to even last this long.

Anonymous said...

I was tearing my hair out w/ the Westell 327W wireless connection, no help from Verizon or Dell and finally called GeeksKnockin out. There were 2 problems, both contributing. 1) The antenna wasn't fully screwed into the router (stupid problem, but worth mentioning just in case). 2) Came transmitting on Channel 6 as default and something in my house was conflicting with this. Logged into router (finally found password, of course no instructions on this came from Verizon), changed to Channel 1, and now it works like a charm. Actually get a stronger signal than w/ my previous Linksys router. So play around with the channel settings. (It still cuts out when we use our cordless phone, but this is a small price to pay). Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Verizon sent me a Westel 327 Versalink and today I e-mailed them to cancel my service entirely.
The unit wont' handle a simple VPN connection. Their customer service was completely useless. Yet, the same computer, when dialing out through a Juno connection connects perfectly with VPN. The same for a Comcast cable internet connection.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with that piece of crap! I cannot even get the bloody Wireless LED on!

Anonymous said...

I second the advise of playing with the channel settings. So far, so good. Seems to be moving faster. Will see if it disconnects me again.

I simply REFUSE to contact customer service. What a bunch of idiots. It's a crapshoot whether you get someone with skill.

JujuBees

rasak said...

I don't think we should castigate a product that work effectively for some but due to some circumstances not for others. In my own opinion my WESTEL 327W has been working perfectly and as well been able to link more than one PC with it. I think if proper cofiguration is done and as well other devices are checked to be working fine, I think there won't be a problem and all the allegation of malfunctioning of the westel will be nothing. I implore all to check properly what realy wrong with the total setup not just the WESTEL VERSALINK 327

corcoran_dc said...

Not sure if folks who are having issues have tried this, but I thought I was having the same bad luck as everyone else with the Verizon Westell Versalink 327w. Worked great with the ethernet cable, but I was having issues with the wireless connection. Found out I was missing one major important thing ... see if the following works for you: (assumption that you have a solid green DSL light and that you either have no green light or you have a red light where it says Internet).

Disclaimer: I am not liable if any of the following instructions or recommendations breaks your computer or makes things worst for you. They worked for me -- so try at your own risk. I'm just listing what worked for me since I spent two days trying to figure this out and am just hoping to spare a few folks the grief I went through. Sorry in advance for the long instructions, but I figured more info was better than too little.

1)Turn off your computer, but go ahead and connect the ethernet cable to the modem and your computer.

2) Turn on your modem. Make sure that you do have a solid green DSL light. If it's blinking then you definitely are having other issues that this won't fix. But you can try turning it off, then back on, but stick a pen/sharp object into the ethernet reset button in back. Hold down for about 20 seconds. If it still blinks it's definitely a bad modem or a bad line.

3) Once the DSL light is solid and no longer blinking, turn on your computer. If you ever installed Verizon DSL from the CD they gave you, do not connect via the Dialer or by double clicking on the red icon with the phone. Do not connect via your usual PPPOE. Don't do anything after turning on your computer except for step 4.

4) Open a browser and go to 192.168.1.1 to configure your modem. It should load. If it doesn't then make sure your DSL light is still solid green. If not, then I guess this won't fix your issue either. :(

5) Login: admin and password: password. You will be immediately asked to provide a new administration name and password. If you've already gone through all this, but want to try from a clean slate bc it's still not working, I recommend going to the Maintenance > Backup/Restore > Restore - Factory defaults becomes "Current configuration" and then start at step 1 again. I'd also recommend reseting your ethernet mentioned in step 2 before turning on your computer.

6) Once you're logged in, click on Home (left of the Status option).

7) See if you have a Connection Name and PPP Status. If you do not have anything listed there, then this is why you are not getting any Internet access via wireless, but may be having no issues via the ethernet.

8) If you have no Connection Name defined, click on the Profile Editor button or the blue button that's provided below it. If you have a pop-up blockers enabled, you may have to click again on another button New Connection or something like that.

9) Connection Name: Verizon Online. Username and Password must be the Verizon username and password that Verizon assigned you. I think it should be the same one that works for verizon.net (not .com if you have a different one to pay your bills). Then click on the blue button to add it.

10) I think the next step is to click on Connect if it doesn't start trying to connect automatically. Basically the PPP Status needs to say "UP" and the Internet light should be solid green now as well. If it says "DOWN" or just hangs on "Connecting ..." then shut down your computer. Turn off your modem, wait for about 20 seconds and then turn on your modem. Wait for the solid green DSL light and then turn your computer on.

11) Go back to 192.168.1.1, you should be able to use your new login that you entered for Step 5 (which may be different than your Verizon PPP login that I mentioned in Step 9). Click on Home again and the connection you tried to set should still be there. Click on the radio button and try connecting again. Hopefully it will work. If not, then issues may be username and password or something else. Sorry :(.

12) But if you get an UP status, try disconnecting your ethernet and testing your wireless. I recommend doing this initial test before setting up your WEP or hiding your SSID. This way you know that it works at the most basic of settings. When you do your initial test your modem serial number or something with numbers and I think a W somewhere and a few other letters will show up in the list of available networks. Select it and try Connecting. But don't stop there. Just bc your connected doesn't mean you can get to Google. Test a few sites first.

13) If you did have good luck, disconnect wirelessly. And plug back in the ethernet cable to set up your security settings under Configuration > Wireless. If you didn't have any luck, you may need to just turn off your modem, turn off your computer, turn back on your modem, wait for that solid green DSL light, the Internet light should be green now as well and then turn on your computer.

14) It's usually good practice to secure your wireless connection by doing some of the following: (noting some of the items that I set under my wireless configuration)

a) Rename your SSID (or Wireless Network Name).

b) I used Authentication Type: Open System. (shared Key did not work for me)

c) WEP Security: Enabled

d) Key Select: 1 (you can use more keys, but I would first try one and retest before complicating your set up. This way you know what is causing it to not work. DON't FORGOT to hit SAVE before testing your wireless again. You may also find that you have to turn off your modem and turn it back on to retest.)

e) Key 1: enter in a very good password using numbers, and lower and upper case characters.

f) I selected 128 bit which means a 13 character password.

g) I did not use the Key Mapping table but again you can do this after you set up the basic WEP and make sure it works before adding more variables that may cause it not to work, even though it probably should (but it was a free modem...well kind of free).

h) Hide SSID (if you decide to skip setting up a WEP, which would be a very bad idea to not even set the most minimum of security, then at least Hide your SSID to make it slightly harder for folks to steal your wireless.)

i) MAC Address Filtering: Enabled. You will have to hit Save before adding in MAC Addresses. This should not cause any major issues unless you enter the wrong MAC address. So if you are already uncomfortable or don't know what a MAC Address is then you may want to skip this for now and revisit this later once you know that you're still good to go wirelessly. But if you do want to add that extra security so that only your equipment is talking to your wireless than you can go to this site to find out how to find your MAC address: http://www-dcn.fnal.gov/DCG-Docs/mac/index.html. (Note: MAC address has nothing to do with having an Apple computer.)

j) You may also want to go under Configuration > Firewall and set it to High. Not sure how great the firewall is for this particular modem, but you can try I also turned on my firewall logs just so I can see what does get passed in and out so that if you do notice odd activities, you maybe run out and buy better firewall software if you don't have one installed already.

15) If you've gone through all the work of setting up a secure network, you will need to go back under Control Panel > Network Connections > right-click on your wireless network connection icon > Properties. Then go to the Wireless Networks tab. Click Add to add a Preferred Network. Enter the SSID that you entered under 14a. Uncheck "The key is provided for me ..." so that it will enable/allow you to enter in the Network key that you created in step 14e. Leave Key Index as 1. Then click OK and OK again. If it doesn't automatically connect, go back to your Network Connections > right-click and the View Available Networks. You should see your network and click Connect. For MAC/Apple folks, this should be a lot easier :). Under your Airport ... select Other Network. Select WEP ... enter your SSID network from 14a and then enter your WEP key from 14e.

16) Other quick notes: I did not make any edits to the Wireless DNS or DHCP settings. Used the factory defaults for those and just made sure that my TCP/IP was using DHCP as well.

Hope this works for those that we having issues getting onto the Internet wirelessly. If you are still having problems, you can take the chance of unintalling your Verizon PPPOE/Dialer. Supposedly this has been known to cause some conflicts with this wireless modem. But I would only do it if you have the initial DSL install CD or know how to set up PPPOE connections without the CD, which I recommend since the Verizon CD adds so much other crap onto your computer.

Good luck. Sorry for any bad grammar usage. Very tired but wanted to get this posted in case someone else was banging their heads as well. I do want to make a note that I had to do several reboots of my modem and computer during some of the steps above to get it to work properly. It didn't work the very first time even though I had solid green DSL and Internet light. I had to start fresh again and I actually did my security configuration - from minimum to more advanced testing along the way to make sure that at least with the most minimum of settings that it would work. There are also more advanced settings but I'll leave that for someone else to tackle. :)

And if you want to just understand some of the basics to wireless, I find this to be an easy read: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/wireless-network.htm. I'm sure there are also good wikis out there.

john said...

I see were ever one is coming from i ordered a westel versalink 327 /w and got an Actiontec GT704WG. Needs less to say, its crap, i cant get wireless on my labtop and when ever someone picks up the phone the DSL light starts blinking and i get kicked off. i have had a service man out here twice to try and fix this and both times NOTHING. it still kicks me off, im so mad at this point im about to just cancle the whole damn thing.

Anonymous said...

Yikes corcoran_dc! Must have a lot of time on your hands. Good post though. There is an update to this modem that I would recommend and have tried myself. You'll get WPA and some other goodies. Search google hard and maybe you'll be lucky enough to find it. I'm off to watch family guy. later

Anonymous said...

I've had this westell w327 for about a year. No problems.

I'm running 6 desktops and 2 wireless notebooks through it.

Anonymous said...

Changing the Channel ID from 6 to 8 made the light go to steady green immediately. Make sure you set the channel id on your laptop to match whatever you program the router to (but try something other than channel 6). Hope this helps someone. It worked for me...