Review of the Symmetricom GoWide 4.6
This summer we had the pleasure of testing the Symmetricom Go Wide
4.6 G.shdsl Modem
(router) courtesy of Packetworks. G.shdsl routers/modems
such as this one are faster then your regular dsl modems. Why? Well they use 2 copper pairs as opposed the regular
single twisted pair most telco's drop into your home/business.. This allows them to get twice the speed... thus this
router can achieve roughly 4.6 Mbps both upstream and downstream as opposed to the 2.2 or 3.0 Mbps downstream and
640k upstream from regular ADSL.
Physically this unit is larger then most other routers on the market, (dlink, gnet, netgear, Netopia and Linksys are
all 1/2 to 1/4 the size of this unit). As well most of those other routers I just mentioned are all pretty flouresant
off the wall "in style" colours, and their marketting departments are aiming those products and the look of those
routers at that late teen, early adult user who might buy a certain router because it's "cool" looking.. Well those
users probably wouldn't give this GoWide 4.6 router a second look and boy would they be missing out on one nice
router. Remember the 80's and early 90's telco gear? Well I bet the engineers that worked on this router
worked on Lucent/Nortel/Ascend products in those early years because the resemblence is very noticeable. Boxy, metal,
heavy, boring offwhite case with a few tiny led's are the way you could describe the physical appearance of this
unit to the untrained user... Other highly technical users would describe this as, armoured, well built, solid, well
engineered old school work of art. This might not be a trendy pretty router, but it is well engineered physically,
I'd love to see the specs they engineered this to, I'd bet the physical tolerances meet or exceed military levels of
sturdyness, temp/humidity tolerances and maintainability. On the front you have 4 tiny LED's that are very useful,
power, sync, ATM and Alarm. Nice clear useful LED's. You probably are used to me
complaining about the lack of a console port, well this router comes equiped with a console port like most large
enterprise scale routers. Not having
a console port might not be a big deal to home users, but having console access to routers is necessary to network
admins for larger networks. A 4 port 10/100Mbps auto sencing hub is built in which is also a nice feature (wish it
was a 4 port switch though).
A power switch with a standard computer power plug, very nice. They even have little
rubber feet to keep the router slighly off the table which aides in airflow around the unit. Airflow is side to side
through the unit with nice large vents on both sides of the router and plenty of room inside the router for airflow
to. Very nice, no cramming of electronics into a small case and hoping the users keep the router in a very
airconditioned room (dlink should talk with these engineers I think..). Symmetricom does sell a little brother
and 2.3 with 1 ether port) to
the GoWide 4.6 that only has 1 ethernet LAN port on the rear of the router that is a bit cheaper which is more aimed
at SOHO users.
To configure this router, there are two methods. First like most other DSL routers on the market, you can use the
handy dandy web interface which makes it a point and click configuration. Nice and Easy. Second method is what novice
users call the "ugly" command line method, ala Cisco command line. The Go Wide 4.6 has both a nicely done GUI (web
based interface) and the classic CLI (command line interface). Configuring the router is very easy although the
instructions that came along with the router said to run start.exe off of the CD that came with the router. To bad
these were old instructions because the CD was essentially a documentation CD, no installation execuatable on it..
Just plug the ethernet from your laptop/desktop into the router, make sure you are configured for DHCP and boom you're
connected, open a web browser and go to the IP of the router, enter the password and boom you are in...
The GUI (web driven interface) is very very nice, on par with Linksys's class leading web interface design.
Everything is pretty logically laid out, menu's open to reveal more related options to what you just selected. This
router has not pigeonholed itself in the market at all, you can configure it in a vareity of ways: as a Bridge, or as
a router, or gateway.
In Bridge mode there are 2
modes, RFC 1483 or PPPoE modes. Likewike is router mode you can also do RFC1483, PPPoE, PPPoA (ppp over atm, very
very few routers do this!!!!) and IPOA (over atm AAL5). Having these options is great, shows how versatile this router is.
As per all the other routers in this class, the Go Wide 4.6 does NAT, DHCP and access lists (filtering as some call
it), but it also does pptp, DHCP relay, L2TP (wow, never see this included on a CPE router!!!) and has a nice access
manager. To network admins those added features are unheard of in the CPE market outside of Cisco products, usually
those features are reserved for larger more expensive routers.
In the DSL/WAN portion of the web interface you have the ability to see some very very important and useful
about your G.shdsl connection: DSL line speed, CRC errors, payloads, Errors, OAM looptest, and you can configure it
for 2 or 4 wire telco connections. For the LAN portion you see the packets sent/received, network type (bridge,
router, gateway, etc..). Having an update firmware option is a great feature which makes firmware upgrades very easy.
As well the help screens in the interface are among the best help menu's in this market segment. Unfortunately I
much time to play with the command line interface but having the versatility of a command line interface gives this
router a leg up in terms of usability on its competition.
Like most DSL routers, speeds are generally limited by your telco and that is where the GoWide 4.6's DSL/WAN
information pages in the web interface comes in handy. They show you your line speed and telco quality, which goes a
long way in solving problems with your DSL speeds (if you have any) because you can tell your telco this is the line
speed I see, so they take you seriously and check the loop, linecards etc....
There are really only 2 things that I think are missing from this router that would keep it from being king of the
hill in the G.shdsl market.. No SNMP ability and No sysloging. This router is designed not for your home/SOHO users,
designed for medium to large sized businesses (school's, offices, branch offices, etc..). Having the ability to log
access list violations, links going up/down etc. is vital to a network admin's jobs and that is why I feel syslogging
should be standard on routers that serve medium to large businesses. Likewise for SNMP, being able to monitor your
bandwidth you are using is critical to planning for capacity in your network, and detecting bandwidth problems on the
network etc.. Larger routers all are SNMP capable and most larger routers have the ability to log to a syslog host
which improves security. I'm quite sure both of those are on the engineers list of things to do in later versions of
Well built, well designed router that is loaded with usefull features make this a class leader in terms of G.shdsl
Good fast speeds, this is a router that can handle most routing protocols with ease, from small office to large
offices, this router can handle it all.
The router has great built in help menu's as well as a pretty good web interface layout. The
Symmetricom Support Site is pretty sparse.. Not a bad support
missing something. I'm not a big fan of having to register and wait 12-24 hours before you can login and browse the
support site looking for the faq or files you need. I have heard Symmetricom support staff go above and beyond with
regards to helping clients with their products which is a sign of a first class company. I just wish their support
site/knowledge base was a bit better laid out.
Ease of Use/Configuration:
Wonderful web based interface to use when configuring this router, with great options, access lists, L2TP, PPPoA,
Access Manager, DHCP relay. As well as adding in a command line interface and a console port for ease of
This router will work on any TCP/IP based 10/100Mbps network as well with virtually any ISP on the planet (PPPoE,
RFC1483 and PPPoA).
access lists, L2TP, PPPoA,
Access Manager, DHCP relay, command line interface, console port PPPoA, PPPoE, bridge/router mode, all in one heavily
armoured well engineered unit.
Although since this is a router that has sooo many features of enterprise level routers, I would love to see syslog
ability and SNMP monitoring. That's all that missing in terms of features.
I love this router, well built, well engineered little unit. Tons of great features with very few flaws. Just would
like to see SNMP and syslog added, but chances are their engineers are working on that for later versions.
Great little known router from a first class company, if you or your ISP are in the market for G.shdsl, it would be
Symmetricom and their Symmetricom Go Wide
4.6 G.shdsl Modem should be on your short list of routers/modems to deploy.