CenturyLink Actiontec c1000a picture

Lately I’d noticed that download speeds weren’t what they used to be and I was surprised when after calling technical support at CenturyLink they agreed there might be something wrong with my line. I assumed lots of people call in with that problem and that they were going to ask me to reboot my computer, reboot my modem, or “adjust my Internet Explorer settings”

I was happy to learn from the tech that came that my neighborhood had recently received a faster DSL network and that they were going to put me on it. He also gave me a replacement Actiontec C1000A Modem to replace the trusty Actiontec GT701 I bought off of ebay a few years ago when I dropped Comcast (the huge rip-off that it was) and switched from cable to DSL. My connection download speed dropped from 15mb to 5mb down and while it was noticeably slower I was surprised how functional it was.  I could make VOIP calls and work from home just fine without any problems and it was $40 a month less than Comcast.

Once all the dust settled with my new C1000A, my line repaired, and calling customer service and asking if there was any kind of discount I could get–they gave me some kind of long term loyalty customer discount of $10 a month–I’m now getting close to 8mb down and close to 1mb up… all for $10 a month which is “good enough.”

I liked the C1000A because it has built in wireless, has the newer N connection, seemed to have a stronger signal, and four ethernet ports on the back.  My hope was to free my DD-WRT router (Linksys WRT-54G) for better wireless coverage elsewhere in the house.

After going crazy for several hours my conclusion is that for whatever reason the C1000A does not act as a full network switch and there is no way that I could find to enable it so that local network traffic could see itself–you know like a regular router or switch?  In other words, all the devices connected to it could not communicate with each other: separate machines over ssh, networked printer, etc.  I cannot imagine why you would build a wireless router this way for home use in today’s day in age.

Please post in the comments if you’ve found a way around this or a way to make it work.

Transparent Bridging and Your Existing Wireless Router is the Answer

If you want to run your own internal network and configure it to your liking it’s really not that hard.

I’ve been running this setup for a few years and it works on the Actiontec C1000A just as well as it did on the Actiontec GT701.  In order for it to work your router must be able to a WAN connection type of PPPoE. This moves the DSL login and DHCP address request from your modem to your router.

1) Collect your DSL connection credentials–username and password and have them handy

2) Log into your DSL modem and set the DHCP connection to “Transparent Bridge” mode.  By setting the modem for “Transparent Bridge” you’re leaving it to your router, and not the modem, to do the DSL logging in part.

3) Connect an ethernet cable to any port on the Actiontec C1000A to the “internet” port of your Router.

4) Log into your router and set the WAN connection to PPPoE.

5) Enter your DSL user name and password to the router.

6) Save and reboot (if necessary).

Now your router should be able to get it’s own address and login into DSL (instead of the C1000A performing these actions).  I also logged back into the Actiontec C1000A and disabled the wireless so that the DSL modem wasn’t remotely accessible.  If I need to configure it again, I’ll connect to it with an ethernet cable.

Update (March 16, 2014): I have found on several occasions when the C1000A loses power that the DSL connection resumes faster by powering the router (in my case a Linksys WRT 54GL running DD-WRT) on first, waiting a little bit and then the C1000A–why I have no idea.  I’ve found if both the router and C1000A are powered up and connection still hasn’t been made, power cycling the C1000A often magically gets the connection to work again.

Update (May 28, 2015): I have abandoned this setup all together. Even though I live in a metropolitan area CenturyLink could not provide faster service to my house (0.80 mb upload wasn’t cutting it!) so I’ve switched to a different internet provider all together.