CenturyLink DSL Actiontec C1000A Transparent Bridge Configuration

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.

23 thoughts on “CenturyLink DSL Actiontec C1000A Transparent Bridge Configuration

  1. Hugely helpful post! I’d already figured out how to get it into bridge mode, but wasn’t aware you could still access the GUI with a direct ethernet connection and manual 192.168.0.2 IP. Wonderful to know….

    Also, on a Mac, Chrome is annoyingly unable to edit the config. Safari works though, just so you know…

  2. In step 4 you say the router should be set to DHCP and PPPoE. Did you mean DHCP or PPPoE? My router will only allow me to choose one or the other.

    • Thanks Bob! You are right that is confusing . What I meant to say was that the WAN setting is PPPoE and the local network setting is DHCP. I updated step #4 to be clearer.

      As I think about it more, since the DHCP setting is for your local network and I suppose there’s someone out there that might want to run and administer a static network that I should separate that out.

  3. i dont have the dhcp in the drop menu i have :
    auto select
    pppoe
    ipoe
    ipoe via ststic ip
    transpernt bridging

    • I get it. I think you had the same question as Bob. I’ve updated step #4 to be clearer. If I get some time I’ll try to add some screenshots to make it really clear for folks.

  4. Curious if anyone noticed a speed loss after the change. I thought I had read at some point that there is a performance loss by using bridge mode. Just curious. Thanks!

  5. Sorry everyone for my delayed responses. Getting buried in spam on some other posts and this got drowned out.

    • I’m thinking about doing this. Will the C1000a keep its default LAN IP address after you’ve set up bridging so you may log on? Did you set your router with a different subnet or the same as the C1000a but a different IP? Does it make sense what I’m asking?

      Thanks.

      • Technically I don’t think it matters what subnet you give your router, but just to play it safe give it something different from the default network that C1000a usually does which I think was 192.168.0.x. From what I can tell, in transparent bridge mode, the C1000a is simply a pass through to the router and does not get a public address nor deliver a local address the to the router.

        In transparent bridge mode the router gets a public address from CenturyLink and then gives local addresses for the local network, assuming you have the router doing local dhcp.

        When I want to access the C1000a itself I connect an ethernet cable to it directly, set my computer to a static address on 192.168.0.x and then talk to it that way.

        Honestly I’m not exactly how it all works, I just know I saw a post long ago that hinted this was all possible, I connected cables, and guessed at things until they started working. Then I just kept doing it. :) Hope that helps.

    • When I want to access the C1000a itself I connect an ethernet cable to it directly, set my computer to a static address on 192.168.0.x and then talk to it that way.

      • At a certain point this stopped working… I could only log into the modem sometimes and once I did things would freeze or disconnect. I ended up hard resetting the modem by pushing the reset button on the back in with a pen (while powered on) and holding it in for 30 seconds or so.

    • That’s right. After hours with tech support about this I learned that the only browser that will reliably communicate with the C1000A is Internet Explorer. (My browser of choice is Chrome – it also does not work. The best tech I spoke with said there is some extension to Firefox that helps it to work in some cases, but that the only sure deal is IE. sorry.

  6. Hi John,

    Thanks for the information. I recently upgraded to CL 40 Mbps service and was hoping to use my Netgear N600 (wndr3400) for the same purposes you are describing here. I haven’t been happy with the wireless strength of the C1000A. However, when I log into the admin utility and look for “transparent bridging” under DHCP I can’t find anything. Do I need to take other steps to unearth that setting like shut of DHCP server and then apply that change for it to show up? Sorry….bit of a novice. Thanks for any help!

  7. Sorry to hear that. One additional problem I did find with this unit is the the Google Chrome browser did not interact well with it. Some parts of the interface wouldn’t load correctly and I couldn’t click on them. Firefox worked much better. Try it?

  8. When I try to put my actiontec in transparent bridge mode it doesnt save it reverts back to pppoe. I turned off the ssid on the modem.

    I am just trying to get my external access back like I had on my cox.net setup.

    • I would try and access the Advance Settings from Internet Explorer. I have tried this with Chrome…which is unusable with the modem/router menu and Firefox which seems really picky as to what it saves.

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