ZTE-ZXHN-H208N: Empire strikes back

Hi everybody! It’s been a while.

Unfortunately this time around I have no clever hack nor good news.

About a year a go I decided to change my ISP following one with a much better offer. After signing the request for transfer I was presented the option to select modem for my new connection.

If you are change averse like me you can probably predict the dialog:

-ISP: So when do you want us to deliver the new modem?

-Me: Oh thank you very much but there is no need for that I have my hardware already setup properly

-ISP: Well you can do as you as wish but you have to know that your home phone will not work because we are switching you to VOIP and your modem does not have VOIP support.

-Me: So can I purchase a modem/router of my selection?

-ISP: Of course you can but standard of the shelf modem wil not be compatible with our VOIP service. Only __our__ equipment is compatible with __our__ VOIP service.

-Me: So it’s a trap!

-ISP: Pretty much yeah.. but at least you don’t have to pay for the trap^H^H^H^H modem.

Actually the last two lines never happened but you get the feeling.

So what was the actual modem delivered to me? You guessed it – or at least you pay attention to the titles of the articles you read. It was a ZTE-ZXHN-H208N an update of the venerable ZTE-H108NS. I thought that it was great – I could hack my way through a temporary obstacle. Just a setback that it would lead to an more enjoyable blog series. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out.

The modem as it was delivered from the new ISP was already pre-configured and locked down.

  • No admin account
  • No capability to save/restore firmware
  • No capability to save/restore settings
  • TR069 already enabled – the modem was controlled by my ISP for all intents and purposes.

Furthermore the official link I posted above advertises DLNA capabilities but the damn thing didn’t even have a USB port. From where it would serve multimedia content beats me.

screenshot_20170102_154928 zte_zxhn_h208n_01

That was the final straw for me. I went and bought a linksys1200ac router and installed openwrt on it. Never looked back and never felt any regret for this decision but this is a topic for another post.

After buying the linksys router a new saga started. Due to modem firmware bugs and incompetence of the (always polite) ISP personnel it was impossible to set the modem in bridge mode or survive a reboot with it enabled. The modem was (still is) in full lock down and it was impossible for me to set the bridge mode. After several attempts, firmware upgrades and unit exchanges finally the modem actually started behave as a bridge. Here are some screenshots so people can be prepared for similar issues from that ISP or this modem.

h208n-bridge-problem-firmware h208n-bridge-problem-error