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!)

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

  1. Hey, any idea how to get into the vlan settings on a netgear r6300v2? I don’t see it listed under the advanced setup tab like on your nighthawk, but I’ve googled and people are doing it.. Hmm.

    1. I have a Netgear WNDR3400 (not as cool as the nighthawk in this tutorial) but I was still able to figure it out. I just simply had to find where “Does your internet connection require a login?” was located and clicked “yes”. Then under “Internet Service Provider” make sure it’s PPPoE. Then, type in the Login and Password that your internet provider must give to you. I then simply left the rest the same and it worked perfectly.

    1. so I think I know the issue, the R7800 does not setup the vlan on the internet port so therefore the ONT does not login. If i place the cable in one of the 4 LAN ports it connects but gives me the wan IP not the local IP.

        1. Where did you get a list of supported devices?

          I tried unsuccessfully to bypass the CL router (Seattle, fiber) using a R7800. The CL tech said he’s been trying to get this to work for “months” with Netgear and didn’t mention any specific models, only that the tech he spoke with at Netgear confirmed they don’t have the correct settings, and didn’t seem to think it’d be fixed in a firmware update anytime soon. How do they above models connect?

          1. i bought a tp-link managed switch and used that to setup the vlans. port 1 is tagged. port 2 is untagged. port 1 connects to ont, port 2 connects to internet port. both are in vlan 201. the tplink is $29 on amazon

            1. Thanks, was about to purchase one, but all the info I found pointed to a variable VLAN setting being key to making it work, which the R7800 has (maybe only after updating the firmware, which I did?).

              With firmware V1.0.2.12, Advanced > Advanced Setup > VLAN/Bridge Settings: Enable VLAN/Bridge group; By VLAN tag group – edit the VLAN ID to 201 (basically part 2 step A of this post.

              Next I removed the LAN cable from the CL router and plugged it into the R7800, connecting it directly to the ONT, and then did step 1 part c (had to use 192.168.1.1 vs routerlogin.net to access the router) and things are working great.

              Thanks for your help and for the author’s original post!

    2. I have a Netgear WNDR3400 (not as cool as the nighthawk in this tutorial) but I was still able to figure it out. I just simply had to find where “Does your internet connection require a login?” was located and clicked “yes”. Then under “Internet Service Provider” make sure it’s PPPoE. Then, type in the Login and Password that your internet provider must give to you. I then simply left the rest the same and it worked perfectly.

  2. Question for everyone… Switched over to an ASUS RT-AC68U, everything seems to be working great. 1GB Service with Prism TV, DVR, and 2 set top boxes. The DVR box is working great, and I was able to join the Wireless box using WPS over 5Ghz. However, every 20 seconds or so, the TV on the wireless box freezes for a second, then works fine for another 20 seconds and so on… any ideas?

    I have IGMP Snooping an IGMP Proxy enabled on the ASUS, and I have IGMP Snooping enabled on the 5Ghz radio on the router as well.

    1. Folks earlier in the thread said to leave snooping disabled. I have it disabled on my RT–AC88U and the wireless Prism TV box works great. The box is using WPS/5ghz as well.

        1. About 24 hours after I posted this I started having the same issue you described. I haven’t had much time to troubleshoot it yet, but I did notice the frequency on the router’s WPS tab had changed from 5ghz where I’d originally set it to 2.4ghz. Not sure if that’s the issue, but worth a look.

  3. Have any Seattle folks with Gigabit and Prism TV service using Asus routers had any luck with Dynamic DNS after dropping the CL modem? Wondering if it removes the multiple NAT error? Thanks.

    1. For those interested, using the Asus RT-AC88U router in place of the CL modem (Technicolor C2100T in my case) removes the multiple NAT environment issue. Remote access works great with Asus DDNS.

  4. thanks for the post. Just got 1gb service through CL. I was at around 800mb/s using the CL router. Seemed to be capped at 200mb/s w/ the ASUS firmware, so switched over to Merlin, consistently getting 850mb/s. Took the Zyxel out per your instructions and hooked the ASUS ac66u directly to the ONT and am just kissing 900mb/s now. thanks for posting!

  5. I stumbled across your posts in searching for anyone having luck getting IPv6 working using their own router. If you don’t feel like calling CenturyLink and trying to get them to give you the PPP password you can actually decode it from the CL router.

    1) Enable telnet, set password
    2) Type: sh
    3) press enter
    4) execute: /usr/bin/pidstat -l -C pppd
    5) Capture the output string, the part you really want is the string after the -p, this is your password but encoded.
    6) On Mac or Linux open a shell and run (replacing the password_string= with your actual string including the “=”): echo “password_string=” | base64 –decode
    7) That will be your PPP password.

    Personally I did this using an Asus RT-N56U using 3rd party firmware, and everything seems OK other than a few issues. My VoIP service takes a long time to connect if the router reboots or otherwise loses Internet connection. I too have seen some “freezing” when just browsing the web, it will load a blank page and a refresh works. IPv6 doesn’t seem to really work at all, which is really annoying for my work-from-home application.

    It is entirely pitiful hat Century Link forces you to buy that horrible router, the fact that I bought Gigabit and the router they force me to buy can’t even offer more than 100megabits over WiFi is beyond ridiculous.

    1. Ok, so I hooked up the CL router again and configured it for IPv6 so I could grab their settings…and with that I was able to get my Asus to actually score higher on the IPv6 test than with the CL router. Scoring 17/20 at http://ipv6-test.com currently.

      I enabled 6rd, set to not automatically obtain info and then set the prefix, prefix length, and border router IPv4 address. I was able to harvest those values from the CL router, I am not sure if those are unique to a region or not.

      IPv6 prefix: 2602::
      Prefix length: 24
      Border router: 205.171.2.64

  6. Hey all. Picked up 3 (yes, three) Asus RT-AC68U and flashed them to latest Merlin 380.63_2 for use with my gigabit fiber.

    I’m in West Seattle, and was provided the Zyxel C1100Z, which absolutely works great in terms of wired speeds. Wifi, of course, leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve had the service 10 days, and it’s been flawless with the Zyxel for wired internet. Not even bothered using the Zyxel for wireless, since I have other access points around my house (ethernet in every room) and I have a Apple Time Capsule as a wireless router that I’m now replacing with the Asus units.

    With the Asus RT-AC68U flashed to Merlin, VLAN ports and PPOE information filled in etc, I’m able to get ALMOST gigabit speeds. However, there are some issues, here, and if you’re looking at raw speeds you’ll likely want to stick to the OEM hardware as the foundation of your ethernet setup.

    For reference, with the original Zyxel equipment, I hit around 930Mbit up and 930Mbit down over ethernet, with uPNP enabled OR disabled.

    Now, with the Asus RT-AC68U (always using the same speedtest.net server):

    1.) With uPNP ENABLED, I hit anywhere from 800Mbit to 910Mbit down, and about the same 930Mbit up as with the Zyxel. It seems quite variable in terms of download speed, though, for some reason.. These speeds aren’t anything to sneeze at of course, but it’s a curious situation.

    2.) With uPNP DISABLED on the Asus, throughput is not as good, hitting around 700Mbit-750Mbit down (but still – curiously – 900Mbit-or-so up). Nothing I did or changed in the Asus settings would make it as fast as when uPNP is enabled. Frustrating.

    So yes, the Asus RT-AC68U works, but it’s NOT as good as the Zyxel C1100Z in terms of raw speed, despite multiple reboot, multiple server tests etc. The Zyxel is just the best. That said, I’m still using the Asus RT-AC68U routers as wireless access points around my ethernet-wired house, but as the actual router/modem – I’m going to have to stick with the Zyxel, sadly.

    For reference, using the Zyxel as the CenturyLink router/modem, connecting to the Asus RT-AC68U (in Access Point mode) via ethernet in my office room yields the max 930Mbit speeds up and down, so something is just not *quite* right with the RT-AC68U in terms of fulfilling the max potential of the fiber connection, but it’s fine in terms of throughput in other situations.

    1. I am in West Seattle too. I have a netgear n600 dgnd3700v2 that I thought would work but I can’t seem to get it to work. Would you be able to help?

  7. Oh and I almost forgot, if you’ve extended your network make sure to unplug any of the extended routers (e.g. additional Airport Extremes or Airport Express, etc.) before you begin. The routers get confused while you’re updating everything. Plug them back in once you’ve set up your main Apple Airport Extreme to PPPoE and it’s all up and running. I actually reset my extended networked routers after I configured my main router for PPPoE login, because it seemed like the extended routers were still a little confused with the changes.

    Also, for your main router make sure PPPoE is set to “Always on” and configure IPv6 is set to “Link-Local only”.

  8. Hey Richard, I want to personally thank you. I was finally able to hook up my Apple Airport Extreme. I just wanted to clarify for some people that are having a tough time figuring things out if you’re trying with an Apple Airport Extreme.

    I have the 5th GEN Airport Extreme and the same managed switch that Richard mentioned above. If you’re trying to keep your Airport Extreme you’ll need a managed switch to do the VLAN tagging because the Airport doesn’t allow you to edit the VLAN.

    Kevin’s post:
    You do not need to follow Kevin’s 1st part (the part where it talks about putting the Century link router in transparent bridge mode). Go right to Part 2. I would use his as a guide. Instead I’d follow Richard’s post above.

    Richard’s post:
    You’ll need to follow Richard’s post pretty much step by step. In other words just set up your managed switch to handle the VLAN tagging and then set up your Airport Extreme to do the PPPoE login and and that’s it. You’re all done. Basically follow Richard’s post exactly from beginning to end.

    I spent hours and hours trying to get my Airport Extreme to do the login in conjunction with the century link Technicolor C2100T Modem (in transparent bridge mode) to no avail. I was online with CSR for hours and they kept telling me it was Apple’s router. It turns out I didn’t even need the C2100T in the first place. I just needed the switch and my Airport Extreme. For some reason Century Link’s C2100T and Apple’s Airport Extreme aren’t speaking to each other very well and it’s not allowing the Extreme to reach the server. And I believe that goes for everybody regardless of whether or not you have an Apple Airport Extreme. So, don’t worry about putting the router in transparent bridge mode to TEST if your router will do the PPPoE login. Just go right to setting up the switch.

  9. I need help!!! I am pretty new at this and did followed all of the steps. Now I have no internet and centurylink told me I can’t use the Netgear and I have to use their modem. I didn’t tell them I bridged it, so they are sending repair service on Monday. Is there anyone that can help me resolve this????

  10. This thread gives me hope. I recently signed up for Centurylink fiber and live in Seattle (Wallingford neighborhood). I was given a Centurylink router model C2100T and would prefer to use my Asus RT-AC88U router. I followed these instructions and everything seemed to work, for about a week, and then my Prism TV died. When I switch channels after about 5-10 seconds it freezes and then says “Lost connection”. If I reboot the Centurylink Fiber modem, it fixes the problem for a few days…and then I’ll come home and Prism TV is back in it’s work for 8 second mode before freezing again. Any ideas what could be causing this? I really don’t want to use their router.

  11. I am looking to increase my wireless speeds on my 1GB service.. I have the 2100T and get 850MB on ethernet but maybe 100MB if I am lucky on wifi. I am not sure I want to eliminate the 2100T entirely though.. why not just disable the 2100T wireless and use a 802.11ac router in bridge mode?

  12. Just wanted to provide a comparison, I am still using my old Asus RT-N56U using padavan’s firmware. I am able to consistently test at or above 930mbps up and down. I have found that I get worse results with the new “beta” version of Speedtest.

    The biggest reason I moved to my own router is that I have a lot more control, maybe I could have figured out how to get the C2100T to actually “work” but I don’t feel like wasting anytime on it. I am able to score 19/20 on the IPv6 tests (the highest a residential customer can likely achieve), which is critical for my work…I don’t remember what my test was on the C2100T, it was well below 50% IIRC.

    I have my configuration details here: https://effndc.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/functional-home-gigabit-with-century-link/#tldr

    1. effndc, do you use Prism TV though? I was able to get Internet working, but I could not get Prism to stay connected more than a day.

  13. I don’t use Prism TV. I only care about Internet, as everything we do in our house is Internet service based. I use Netflix, Amazon Video, and DirecTV NOW + HBO streaming. We also use 2 VoIP services (Google Voice + PhonePower) on multiple gateway devices.

    I never looked at Prism as I am not interested in monthly rental fees for antiquated set top boxes ;) We cancelled DirecTV long ago for OTA and streaming services because I got tired of the perpetual monthly fees for out of date hardware, and when you did refresh they couldn’t ever “guarantee” you’d actually get the latest instead of the intermediate model…just like this piece of crap WiFi “modem” that CenturyLink forced me to pay $100 for but will never be used.

  14. Confirming that the Archer C7 v2 router will work with this method. No DSL modem needed, but the latest firmware is required. Connect the ONT to the WAN port on the router, then set the PPPoE credentials and Internet VLAN to 201.

    (VLAN settings are available under Network > IPTV after Mode is set to 802.1Q Tag VLAN)

  15. In the comments, I’ve seen a couple of references to “Richard’s Post” as being authoritative. Unfortunately, Richard’s post seems to have been removed (disappeared from the thread)? If someone can point me to the source I would be appreciative. My situation: I’m trying to deprecate my CenturyLink-appointed C2100T router (high-end and still insufficient on multiple fronts) router with my recently procured Netgear Nighthawk X8. I believe that I’m following the instructions that Kevin has graciously provided: I put the CenturyLink router into Transparent Bridging mode (seems to work), but setting the Nighthawk to login (by way of the C2100T) using the PPPoE protocol seems to be NOT working. Ultimately, I’m happy to spend a weekend but not longer to get this to work. After that; I’m firing CenturyLink at the end of my contract for being both too proprietary and behind the curve (sounds like Apple?). FYI I’m not a gadget nerd and could give a rats-ass about the model numbers and the protocols. My interest is in having a functioning home network that takes positive advantage of all the gear that I’ve had to procure in order to bypass the weak links of every “provider” in this supply chain. I’m in the Denver area and am willing to pay $$ to someone who can just get it working without me having to engage in some Kafka-esque Dystopia trying to get f***ing Internet working in my house. Thanks!

    1. Hi Skinny Jim,

      I just setup my Nighthawk with CenturyLink. I too had a problem registering my router. Note, I did not connect through the C2100T. Instead, I plugged my router in instead of the C2100T. Also, the way I got my router to login is by configuring the VLAN ID to “201” and then going to the advanced tab and clicking on the “Setup Wizard” and letting it walk me through the configuration. Unfortunately, it seems like the Nighthawk doesn’t like taking the PPPoE password directly. I had to put it into the setup wizard and then it worked.

      Good luck,
      Steve

  16. I bought and am returning my AC68U as it was far slower than my existing N56U. I was able to configure it to work with both the stock Asus firmware and with the Merlin firmware.

    With the N56U I am able to get 930-940mbps, however with the AC68U I was only able to get 920mbps bidirectional…meaning the total throughput was ~1gigabit, if you had concurrent upload and downloads you are splitting that throughput. You may be OK with that, but I couldn’t justify the expense of the AC68U to get worse performance than my existing solution.

    If you look on Small Net Builder the routed performance of the AC68U isn’t that great, and it only gets worse with PPPoE. They even rate it worse than the ~900mbps that I saw in testing. I consistently see better performance and user experience (e.g. DNS latency) using my N56U than I do from the crappy C1100z they forced me to buy.

    The search for a more powerful router continues. Good luck all.

  17. Has anyone attempted replacing the router with a computer? i.e. have a linux box acting as the router and just having an access point connected to a switch? I really don’t see why this wouldn’t be feasible and then just be able to use any AP that you want.

    1. dues402, all of these devices are just specialized (low power) hardware running Linux so sure…you can use a full computer running Linux. I would likely suggest on of the firewall variants though (IPfire, pfSense, or others) to simplify securing it and using it as a router.

      The downfall of such a configuration is you are powering this device 24×7, most of these routers use 100watts. Overtime this adds up, there are 8766 hours in a year and that extra 90watts is 788 kWh in a year, which is ~$100/year in power cost.

      Personally I ended up switching to a Mikrotik hEX RB750Gr3. It uses at *max* 5W of power (~$5/year) and is more than capable of supporting my needs.

    2. I just want to say thank you for this great article. I stumbled upon it reading reviewes on Amazon for the Zyxel C1100Z modem I was looking to purchase. Instead of purchasing it I decided to try and get this working with my current router. My setup is a bit different because I made my router using Ubuntu Server. I was very interested to see if I could get it working following these steps and using them in Ubuntu Server. I’m glad to say everything worked out and I am now able to bypass the Zyxel C1100Z modem I was leasing from CenturyLink. No more blood money to CenturyLink!

      I created a tutorial on the Ubuntu Forums showing the steps I had to take to get it working correctly. I added it to the end of my original post in the BONUS section. I already had a tutorial up there about setting up Ubuntu Server as a router using PPPoE, but I was passing through the Zyxel C1100Z in bridged mode at the time I wrote it.

      https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2341699

      I live in Vancouver WA (just a few minutes north of Portland OR). I’m getting ready to move and the neighborhood I’m moving to just got CenturyLink fiber installed. It wasn’t there two months ago when I checked previously.

      I called CenturyLink technical support just to confirm the setting in my area to make sure there was no differences to what was listed in this article. Here is what I found.

      1. All of CenturyLink fiber network uses PPPoE. I think if you have fiber and Prism TV you then use IPoE.
      2. Their nationwide fiber network is all on VLAN 201 no matter where you live.
      3. You need a GPON compatible device to use their network.
      4. You need a device that can push your PPPoE credentials.

      All of these things have been confirmed by other posts on this site, but I was happy to hear the technical support rep agree with them.

      Anyways, I’m up and running on my homebrew Ubuntu Server router and bypassed the Zyxel C1100Z thanks to this awesome article. I can’t thank you enough!

  18. I followed @effndc’s advice and used telnet to find the username and password. It worked great. On my C2100T, the password was not encoded, though.

    Thanks for all the tips! I had everything up and running in 15 min!

  19. Quick update for folks who are using a NetGear R7800. While setting up VLAN 201 appears to work and allows access to the internet, it seems to isolate internal networks (Wifi 2.4 & 5 GHz and wired). I had serious issues accessing Sonos from my 5 GHz network. I also had problems accessing my NAS from my WiFi networks and my Roku iPhone remote app had problems finding Roku boxes. I managed to fix this by removing the VLAN config from my Netgear router and inserting a TP-Link Smart Switch (with VLAN tagging) between my router and the CenturyLink fiber aggregator.

    Hope this helps.

  20. Had some good nerdier going on for myself to get this to work. Have a small Palo Alto 200 — They don’t do PPPoE on Tagged interfaces but they do allow layer 2 switching…

    So, to explain.
    Port 1 -> Ethernet from CL -> Tagged Vlan201
    Port 2 -> Ethernet to Palo Alto Firewall (itself) port 3-> Untagged (Port set in Vlan201)
    Port 3 -> Ethernet from p2 -> PPPoE login into. Vlan1
    Port 4 – > Ethernet to wireless router.

    This set up gets me around the PPPoE tagging issue on Palo Alto, Lets me use my own wireless AP, and also throws a bad-ass firewall infront of my home network.

    My wife thought it was pretty stupid that i have a 2ft Ethernet cable going out of Eth2 to Eth3, but i find it pretty awesome.

    The PA200 is rated for around 200Mbps I believe and right now im only paying for 40Mbps so even with the double bounce through the device (l2 and l3), i still have a bit of room for more bandwidth…. dont know what ill do when/if i get 1gig :)

  21. Would your instructions work on an Apple AirPort Extreme? I have been trying to solve a Double NAT error for months and can find no solution. Turning NAT off on the modem just breaks the internet connection. As I understand it, the CL modem/router conflicts with the Extreme router and I cannot access my computer via WAN. LAN works fine for all use cases, wifi, ethernet, AirPlay, etc. Thoughts? Thanks, Russ

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