Bypassing needless CenturyLink Wireless Router on Gigabit Fiber

What's missing? The CentryLink C2000T!
What’s missing? The CenturyLink C2000T! (Pictured: CenturyLink Optical Network Terminator (ONT) [left], CyberPower Battery UPS [center], Netgear Nighthawk R7000 [right])
My home recently got upgraded with CenturyLink’s gigabit fiber service, which is pretty damn great. As part of the installation, they run fiber optic cable into your home which terminates at a Optical Network Terminator (ONT), which is essentially a Fiber-to-Ethernet modem. By default, CenturyLink will also install their own wireless router in your home because (a) most people need a wireless router and (b) they can make you pay $8/month for the device (or $100 once to buy it from them).

I’m interested in neither of those options, so I learned how to remove the needless extra device from the mix. I’m happy with this setup because it saves me a watt or two of power at the wall plug, and it removes one more thing that could fail/need to be rebooted.

Here’s how I removed the CentryLink C2000T from my home networking setup…

Assumptions

Part 1: Transparent Bridging

The first step is to get the Netgear Nighthawk doing the internet login. If this step doesn’t work, you can’t remove the C2000T. This is done by putting the C2000T into Transparent Bridging mode and then setting up the Netgear router to do the login.

Step A:
Call CentryLink and obtain your PPPoE login credentials. This is the username/password that your router uses to log you onto their internet. The C2000T has this username/password saved in it’s settings already, and you’re going to need this to get your Netgear router logged into the internet.

Step B:
Follow these instructions to set up Transparent Bridging on the C2000T. Basically you:

  1. Log into the C2000T (likely at http://192.168.0.1)
  2. Navigate to Advanced SetupWAN Settings
  3. Change “ISP Protocol” to “Transparent Bridging”
  4. Click “Apply”
Change “ISP Protocol” to “Transparent Bridging”

Step C:
Setup your Netgear Nighthawk to perform the internet PPPoE login:

  1. Login to your Netgear Nighthawk (likely at http://www.routerlogin.net/)
  2. Navigate to the Advanced Tab > SetupInternet Setup
  3. Change “Does your internet setup require login?” to “Yes”
  4. Use the information from Step A to fill in the “Login” and “Password”. All other settings can stay the same.
  5. Click “Apply”.
Update your router’s login type and credentials.

For good measure, you should probably turn everything off, wait a few seconds, and turn them on again. You should have working internet after everything reboots. If you don’t, don’t move on to the next step until you’ve resolved the issue.

Part 2: Removing the C2000T

The last thing you need to do before removing the C2000T is to set the VLAN settings on the Netgear Nighthawk. This is because CentryLink uses VLAN settings that aren’t the same as the default on the router. (This is where the Nighthawk is such a great device… most routers don’t have these settings available to users to adjust.)

Tip: Make sure to upgrade the router’s firmware to the most recent software… the settings below are only available in the most recent updates.

Step A:

  1. Log back into your Netgear Nighthawk
  2. Navigate to the Advanced Tab > Advanced SetupVLAN / Bridge Settings
  3. Check the “Enable VLAN / Bridge Setup” box.
  4. Select “Enable VLAN Tag” if it’s not already selected.
  5. Select the radio button next to the “Internet” row in the table and click “Edit”
  6. Change the VLAN ID to “201” (it was probably set to “10”)
  7. Save the settings and “Apply”
Set the router’s VLAN configuration to match CenturyLink’s VLAN ID

At this point, you probably just lost internet… but that’s okay…

Step B:
Finally, the last step is to disconnect the C2000T and wire the Netgear Router directly into the ONT.

IMPORTANT: Make absolutely sure you plug the Netgear Nighthawk router into the same port as the C2000T was plugged into on the ONT. Only one port of your ONT is set up to work – no other port will do.

Conclusion

I hope that works for you. It took me a bit of searching to figure out how to do this, so I thought I’d pass this along. Some sources that were helpful to me:

Update 11/13/2015

  • Lots of folks have commented that they can’t get the full gigabit speeds with this configuration on the Nighthawk router.
    • 450Mbps appears to be the max on the Netgear Firmware for the R7000.
      • I’m only paying for 40 Mbps up and 20 Mbps down, and I easily get those speeds with this configuration.
    • Richard (in the comments below) was able to get 900+Mbps up/down using an ASUS RT-AC87 router with the ASUSWRT-MERLIN firmware.  Although others have said they haven’t been able to repeat that success entirely. YMMV.
    • Take a look through the comments to see how others have configured their networks to try.
  • Prism (TV) can be set up to work in this configuration. I don’t have Prism myself, but others in the comments have gotten to work
    • On ASUS routers with these settings: http://i.imgur.com/vfBqOJj.png (thanks, Dylan!)
    • On the R7000, by making sure WAN Setup > Disable IGMP proxying is not set. (thanks, Steven!)

418 thoughts on “Bypassing needless CenturyLink Wireless Router on Gigabit Fiber”

  1. Hey guys I was using the Asus RT-AC5300, but had some issues and since I bought it at Fry’s with the killer warranty I took it back with every intention to get the GT-AC5300 but I let that little guy talk me into another Netgear Nightmare Nighthawk. Third one and I have come to the conclusion these things suck. My first one was the X8, spent 6 hours in the phone with this rep named Mary real nice she even stiffeled the Centruylink rep, but there was no way that thing was going to work. I used a smart switch and tagged it with the 201 but still nothing so I took it back got the X4S oh my gosh that thing looked pretty but that is as far as it went then I got the RT-AC5300 and that thing connected without the help of Merlins Firmware and was pulling down 920 and pushing out 930 but something happened to it and I got it with Fry’s warranty and the guy talked me into the X10 nighthawk 4 hours on the phone and I wrapped it up went back to Fry’s and got the GT-AC5300 8 ports of pure love. 965up 980 down are my best and no bridging required.
    Joe
    Now to get the IPV6

    1. Yeah, I am over those overly finicky and way over priced eyesores that Asus sells. They seriously must be striving for the ugliest router award, and they are winning. Of course most of these routers attract everyone with MOR ANTENNA! Its the razor blade game, more is better…right?!? HA

    2. Hey Joe,

      How did you change the VLAN settings on the GT-AC5300? I went to the IPTV tab and the could not locate the VLAN settings anywhere within the router. I ended up sednding back the GT and was going to replace with the RT-AC5300. I really liked the 8 port set up on the GT and will repurchase if I could figure out where to change the VLAN settings.

  2. Hey,
    It may look like a spider but it is in a closet covers the whole 2,400 sgft and I am using stock firmware and on my gaming rig I have teaming setup and I still have two ports free.

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TUTORIAL! It worked flawlessly for me. I DID set the “Connection Mode” under the R7000’s “Internet Setup” page to “Always On” rather than “Dial on Demand”, and that appears to have worked just fine. I’ll comment if it becomes an issue.

    Also I can confirm that this is maxing my wired speeds out at just over 400Mbps, but my equipment is set up in a place where nothing’s wired in anyway and the wireless signals I’m getting from the R7000 are way better and faster than what the Zynix C2100Z that Centurylink gave me was pushing. For the time being, I think 400Mbps will be sufficient. Hopefully. ;)

  4. Thank you so much Kevin for this tutorial. this worked like a charm for me. I live in Seattle – I don’t care about fast speeds but the CL provided router is terrible, kept dropping wifi, and CL techs were no help (they said I’m stuck with it). Your installation instructions are spot on – the only issue I had which others might have is the VLAN tagging is finicky on the Nighthawk router, I just tried a few times and it eventually stuck. Now I have no wifi drops and everything is working fine. Really appreciate this, thank you!

    1. Also in Seattle and couldn’t get this to work. I followed the steps exactly.

      When I ultimately unplug the CenturyLink modem and plug the ethernet directly into the R7000 I can’t get internet.

      The VLAN tagging seems to stick at 201 once I changed it so I don’t think that’s the problem.

  5. I spoke with Merlin via E-mail and he said he will not work work with GT-AC5300, but he gave me some advice and I will have to look it up but he said the stock firm ware is very similar to his and it will work. I have been using and updating the stock firmware since and I never drop my connection. I just remember how we logged in using Merlins Fimware and typeing in my PPOEE info then type in the tag 201 under the LAN page pptv as per inst.s and my upload is 968 download is 958. Hope this helps.

    1. Hey, I have a question for you. You were saying that you have used both Merlin and stock firmware on your ASUS router. When you were able to get full gig speeds, were you on Merlin or stock firmware?

  6. Hi all — I tried all of these steps and no luck.

    When my NetGear R7000 is plugged into the CenturyLink modem I can connect to the internet through the NetGear network. However, when I disconnect the CenturyLink modem and connect the NetGear directly into the ethernet I can’t get internet.

    I have all the correct PPPoE credentials and set my VLAN to 201. Any suggestions?

    1. It could be they use a different VLAN ID.

      To determine that, you could try “capturing” a few of the packets, and checking the VLAN Id on them.

      Step 1.) Take any laptop with an ethernet port and install wireshark on it (from wireshark.org)

      Step 2.) Plug the laptop directly into the ONP ethernet Port, and start a wireshark capture

      Step 3.) Stop the capture after a few minutes and check some of the packets. Take a deep breath, it looks like scary garbldey gook, but you don’t have to understand it.

      Each packet has four – five sections, you are interested in the:
      “802.1q Virtual LAN” section.

      Expand that, and see what the value of the “ID:” is.

      I haven’t tried this myself, and there are a lot of scenarios where the VLAN ID might get stripped out and not captured:

      https://wiki.wireshark.org/CaptureSetup/VLAN

  7. Kevin — I can’t thank you enough. 3 hours on the phone with various Netgear tech support and I’m pretty sure none of them know how their routers work. Your solution helped me configure my new nighthawk router with my century link fiber box and I can now lose the monthly lease fee and have a more robust wireless configuration. Thank you!!!

  8. Found this the same way most of you did. I just got the gig internet only installed last week, straightforward install with the C2100T. I chose to rent when I ordered, hoping that I would get my old TM-AC1900 to work with the new service. Took me a while, but I was able to do it with the stock firmware. I had received the wrong password from CLink support, so it took two calls, but it is working now.

    Didn’t need to do the transparent bridging.

    Set up vlan 201, powered down router, connected wan cable from ONT, powered on router, went to set up page, entered PPPoE login information and it just worked.

  9. I appreciate these instructions , they helped me add my pfsense router to my network until the VLAN tag bug is being fixed.

    I cannot wait to get ride of the Zyxel C2100Z router/modem that I’m leasing from Century Link !

    1. pfsense released 2.4.2 which fixed the VLAN tag bug. That is a good thing since when I called Century Link tech support line to request them to remove VLAN tagging, they first claimed there were no such things as VLAN’s on their network. After being handed around to 4 different technicians, they conceded the existence of VLAN tagging, but told me that it could not be removed from my connection.

      Oh well, at least I got rid of their modem!

  10. Just bought a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 today, I updated the firmware before attempting any of this. I get thru step C, I turn everything off and turn everything back on but I’m not getting any internet. Help.

    1. I lose all internet right after I switch the CL modem to transparent bridging. Even after making all the changes to the NetGear, I can’t get internet back unless I change the CL back to Auto Select.

  11. “Robert Koenig says:
    August 19, 2016 at 2:37 pm
    Thanks to this awesome blog I was able to hook up my Nighthawk R7000, didnt event go through the bridging section, just updated the firmware on my Nighthawk, pulled the plug from the CL router and plugged it into the Nightawk.

    All is well so far.
    I just used Century Link speed test and got 475.26 down / 260.60 up, that could use some work…”

    I’ll try this when I get home tonight.

    1. @Dan don’t expect any more than that over wireless, however if you are only getting 475/260 over hardwired then it is worth investigating. I have no experience with the R7000, but not all routers have a strong enough PPPoE client to truly pass symmetrical gigabit traffic.

      As a point of comparison, I am able to get well over 900mbps each direction in my environment (CTL in Portland) using the CTL Speedtest server…if I look at my router itself I hit 100% saturation of the Ethernet port at (you can’t actually ever achieve 100% from the Speedtest meter because of overhead in the network).

    1. So everything seems to be working ok but I’m not sure what’s going on with the speed. I was expecting 450 down and 250 up but I am only getting 150 down and 250 up. When I was using the CL wifi I was getting about 250 up and down. Any ideas?

  12. Has any one gotten this technique to work with an Orbi RBK50? Does the PC being used to update the VLAN settings have to be connect via ethernet cable into the Orbi router as opposed to connected over wifi for Part 2 to be executed?

  13. Please help. I have a nighthawk x10 I followed this tutorial and my wireless router worked flawlessly, I decided to reset the router for a fresh slate due to using it in another home. I attempted this a second time and third with no success.. am I doing something wrong?

  14. All,

    I wanted to share some of my experiences with a PPPoE connection via Mikrotik https://mikrotik.com/product/RB750Gr3 device.

    It fully supports PPPoE and VLAN tagging, and based on my gigabit link tests, the CPU is only maxxed around 60% during upload or download tests.

    Its only a $60 device, and you will need to have AP’s if your network supports wireless.

    I used to use an R7000, but realized it was limiting my bandwidth.

    Also, In seattle (prism – tv services) are configured as IPoE, and Internet only is configured for PPPoE. I recently changed to internet only, and they had to re-provision the backend to PPPoE, which ended up disconnecting my internet around midnight (day of switch over).

    Keep in mind that as long as you have the login information for your PPPoE connection, you’re able to just make the configuration changes necessary to do so.

    For those needing these config changes, this is the following for the mikrotik

    /interface vlan
    add interface=ether1 name=e1-v201 vlan-id=201

    /interface pppoe-client
    add add-default-route=yes disabled=no interface=e1-v201 name=pppoe-out1 password=password user=username

    Please make sure that your firewall settings and NAT translation uses the pppoe-out1 interface.

    I’ll be happy to help anyone that needs configuration.

    1. What is your wireless speeds with that router, seems like my x10 nignthawk is only getting 159 download, and 400+ upload.. i only use wirelessly.

      1. Steven, it is impossible to assess if the performance is “as expected” when using WiFi. There are hundreds of variables that impact WiFi performance, and the router and client hardware are only a small part of that. The only way to determine if your WiFi “should be faster” is by having a reference point that doesn’t use wireless.

        Wireless performance is impacted by the environment, that includes how many devices are on your network, your neighbors WiFi, other electrical devices in your house and some within many miles of your house. You will never get gigabit speed on WiFi, that is simple fact using current hardware. You can forget what Netgear advertises, as they are deceptive marketeers that want you to believe that physics don’t apply and that you can actually get “7.2Gpbps” as they claimed for WiFi “speed”.

        https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/33046-netgear-r9000-nighthawk-x10-smart-wifi-router-reviewed?showall=&start=2

        The 400mbps is likely pretty close to the max speed you should expect. In order to determine if your Internet link is actually capable of higher speed you will have to use a Cat5/6/7 cable…and then try with multiple Speedtest servers, as the one it picks isn’t always the “best” one.

        1. Thanks so much! Damn marketing… if it isn’t the supplement industry it’s everything else, bullpoop liers.
          So if I want the most out of the gigabit, I’ll have to hardwire some of my devices.. I guess I’ll be fine with what I’m getting wirelessly. I appreciate the input. :)

    2. I just wanted to thank you for this post. I’ve been considering getting a HeX for a few months now, as while my RT-6800U is capable of decent performance, it’s really pushed to the limit by gig Internet and the 27 or so devices it needs to route. We are getting some weirdness with buffering and throughput (even on wired connections) that I can only attribute to the router having troubles keeping up.

      I was hesitant because even the folks at SmallNetBuilder warn that the configuration of RouterOS is not for the faint of heart. Now that I see it’s just a couple of simple CLI switches, I am going to pull the trigger. Thanks again for lighting the path for all of us who are having trouble with actually getting full use of our fast connection!

  15. Hello! I’m planning on doing this on Monday. But I didnt think of the ONT. Question; will CL ONT do? or will I need to get my own? I’m trying to avoid paying for their router, but didnt consider the ONT. Thoughts?

    1. The ONT is part of the install as far as I know. Mine actually has four outputs (the tech said that theoretically they could have up to four installs off one ONT like say in an apartment building) but only one of the ports is active and that’s the one going to my router.

  16. FWIW: I got this easily working on a Netgear R7000 just by entering the settings (including user name and password in PPPoE) myself during the CL install process here in Seattle.

    Got roughly 400/500 with GigE service.

    Nice.

    But then when I upgraded to the latest firmware, it slowed down to 140/130 down/up. I kept reverting the firmware one previous one at a time, went back 2 or 3 but no luck. So I went back to the firmware the author of this post had (> 2 years old), and I got the speeds back.

    So somewhere some firmware update on the R7000 caused a 4-5x drop in speeds.

    Odd. Not sure I feel comfortable sticking to old router firmware so might have to look at a different option like an ASUS?

    Thanks for this post!

    1. So I just went through the last week of various iterations attempting to directly connect with the R7000. No joy. I’m on the CL router now and trying to figure out why I can’t make this work. Had the CL guy back out, we attempted to bridge with the CL router, direct linkup to the R7000, double checked the PPPoe, VLAN, switch out the ONT, nada, nothing. I’m completely at a loss. I’m on a Mac – that shouldn’t matter, thoughts?

  17. First: thank you everyone for the amazing info in this thread.

    I’ve been using Centurylink Fiber in Portland OR for about a year now.
    I recently switched from having Centurylink Fiber packaged with Prism TV, to just having Fiber internet without the TV.

    This changed me from being IPoE to PPPoE.

    When this change happened, I noticed my upload speed went from gigabit to about 300Mbit/s.
    From reading a bit more of the comments here, it sounds like PPPoE is the cause? And that my router might not be beefy enough to handle Gigabit with PPPoE?

    I’m currently using a ASUS RT-N66U, which would get be about 800/800 when i was on IPoE. But now gets me about 800/300 on PPPoE.

    So my question is: What are some good consumer routers that are powerful enough to handle full gigabit speeds on PPPoE?

    Thanks for any info!

    1. I’ve had good luck with the mikrotik hex router. It takes a little extra effort in configuration, but I’ve left a response on how to config above.

  18. I just made the jump to the ASUS AC3100 on CenturyLink 1GB fiber as well… but seem to only get a best of about 500MB down and then 800MB up (although some days only around 300 down and 400-500 up… not sure if there are any other settings I’m missing? I set the VLAN=201 and PPPoE credentials… read through this post again but didn’t see anything else I might be missing…

    1. JasonB, are you testing via WiFi or hardwired? It matters a lot, you will never get Gigabit over WiFi. If over wired, then you may need to try various speed test servers and in some cases you may need to use more than one at the same time to actually get full gigabit throughput.

      1. Hardwired… wifi on the macbook is closer to 150mb; which i expected. Seen some others on here that had hit around 800-900mb hardwired on the AC3100 and was hoping I maybe just have a setting I missed.

        With the old technicolor router I had from CL i was typically in the 900-950mb down/up at any given time and am testing with the same hardwired machine.

        1. There are a lot of variabilities when comparing to “others” results. Perhaps their provider doesn’t require PPPoE, and perhaps the AC3100 sucks for PPPoE. The SmallNetbuilder benchmarks see to show the AC3100 maxes out at 800megabits in their testing, so I wouldn’t expect to get much more than that if I was you.

          You may need to run multiple tests at the same time to actually get full speed. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it either way, as you likely have pretty few use cases that will ever use over 100meg per stream anyhow. There aren’t really any applications that can utilize full gigabit, other than perhaps Torrent with enough seeds. Downloads from major sources aren’t going to do it (Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc) as they all have constraints elsewhere in the path between you and them.

    2. I have the ASUS AC3100 and CAN get between 850/916 UP and 860/942 DOWN but these are my BEST test results. It is important to note that these were tests taken with no rules on the router, no other devices on the router, QOS turned off, and are not the norm. I also could never achieve these speed on my 2012 MacBook Pro, it just wasn’t fast enough. Had to use my fast gaming rig.

      I don’t use PPPoE, I just use VLAN 201 because I have the prism TV package.

      The fact is the processor on the AC3100 just isn’t that fast, and there are lots of packets flying around here.

  19. Just had 1gig CenturyLink fiber installed, and they installed what I believe is a new “modem”, the ZyXEL C3000Z. Actually seems like it’s quite an update to what they have been putting into homes, but they also upped the pricing to outright purchase it (at least in the Seattle area) to $150. Unfortunately, this router didn’t allow me to hook up any USB devices and share them over my network, so my search began for a router that allowed VLAN tagging and also was able to get close to full 1gig speeds with PPPoE.

    I started with a Netgear R8000, but also had the issue of maxing out my speeds between 300-400 up and down. Sent this back to Amazon, and took a chance on the Linksys EA9300, which seems to actually work for me. I hooked it up directly to the ONT, set the VLAN tag at 201, added my PPPoE account info, and I got 900+ both up and down while connected via ethernet. Disconnecting the router and connecting over wifi I seemed to max out around 640/600, while sitting about 5 feet from the router. This was using basic out of box settings, and just adding the tag and PPPoe info.

    Of course, YMMV but this seemed to work fine for me. I spent what must’ve been hours researching forums trying to find a modern router that would get me close to full speeds with CenturyLink. While this wasn’t necessarily my first choice for a router, it’s doing everything I want it to, and one of the few it seems that can grab close to the full gig speeds.

    1. Many thanks for coming here and commenting! I tried the R8000 as well and something about the latest firmware is just killing up/down speeds (I only got 150 Mbps). Using the CL modem and going to my R7000 I pretty much get GigE, but I want to remove the modem from the path.

      Like you I’d rather just have one wireless router. Seems like the Linksys is the ticket then, though I try to steer clear of Linksys in general (maybe I shouldn’t?) after having bad experiences in the past.

      Has anyone tested Asus routers? They seem particularly nice especially with the latest announcement of mesh networks.

      The other thing I was investigating was just having something like a Netgear Gigabit managed switch (in place of the CL modem) but I haven’t been able to get that to work.

      1. I do too (generally avoid), but I went into the store today and all the others they had in stock I knew wouldn’t work so I figured I’d give it a try. Definitely wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it today.

        It might end up being a headache, but so far so good in the first 6 hours of use.

      2. Haven’t had too much trouble with my Asus RT-AC88U. I can’t say I’m a fan of its looks but it covers my house well and plus has plenty of Ethernet ports for my many hardwired devices. I use the third-party Merlin fork of the Asus firmware. I typically get the gig speeds I pay for.

      3. The issue is that many of the firmware/hardware versions fail to have multi-threaded PPPoE client support, and a single CPU core is unlikely capable of processing enough data to achieve gigabit speeds. Obviously YMMV with the hardware and firmware you run, however the $55 Mikrotik mentioned in various posts here will saturate Gigabit up/down *concurrently* (aka passing 1800+mbps).

  20. I have followed all of the advice for the Mikrotik hEX RB750Gr3 in this comment thread and I am still experience slow download speeds. I am getting around 150Mbps down/900Mbps up.

    I was able to follow the steps that Tim had graciously provided and the only step that didn’t match up for me was the 8-b step “Double click on the ‘efconf: drop all from WAN’ rule”. I didn’t have any rules that started with efconf.

    For a sanity check, I immediately plugged the CenturyLink C2100T back in and was getting around 900Mbps down/900Mbps up.

    I wish I knew where to go from here with the Mikrotek, but my networking skills are not good enough to troubleshoot this… yet.

  21. I just went from 40down/5up to 40d/20u over Cl fiber. Works fine with the CL router but with R7000 I only get 40d ownand 5up.

    Has anyone had an issue with the R7000 and know of a resolution? I’m running the latest netgear firmware.

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