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!)

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

  1. Thanks for these instructions! I was able to configure my Linksys Velop WiFi 6 router to eliminate the need for the CenturyLink Greenwave C4000 modem from the mix using this technique. I just entered my PPPoE information and used the VLAN Tag ID of 201, then plugged the Internet port of the Velop into the same port of the ONT.

    I had been using the modem in transparent bridging mode but sometimes if they lost power they would not properly reconnect. Now that I have my Velop connected directly to the ONT and the Greenwave out of the mix it is much more reliable. Also gets rid of the large footprint Greenwave.

    I am getting my Gigabit internet speeds with the Velop.

  2. I wanted to thank you for the directions. I just about gave up.
    I had C3000A Modem behind a ONT and wanted to replace it with AC1750. You saved a return department.
    Thanks again,

  3. After banging my head against the wall for hours trying to figure out the right NAT settings, bridging settings, etc. etc. I tried this and it worked perfectly. Took all of three minutes to set up. Set up the Netgear router to tag all your Internet traffic with VLAN ID 201, plug the router straight into the fiber box, and go. Goodbye CenturyLink “modem”! Thank you SO MUCH for these instructions.

    1. Emily, (or anybody): which port on the Netgear router did you connect the ONT directly to, the yellow WAN(Internet) port?, or one of the 4 LAN Ports? It seems on the Nighthawk router, when I setup VLAN tagging, it doesn’t set it for the WAN port, it can only be assigned to any/all of the wired 1 through 4 LAN ports and the wifi traffic. On another website someone was able to do transparent bridging mode with the greenwave CenturyLink router but only if they plugged into the number 1 LAN port. I assumed the ONT, if bypassing the CenturyLink router, would also need to be plugged into the first LAN port as well. Thanks for clarifying what works for you. :)

  4. I was able to do this whole setup only to learn that my pfSense appliance is too low-performance with PPPoE (its a BSD limitation with packet queues — probably the same problem the Nighthawk has) to do much more than about 450mbps. So I’m back to running the C3000Z (configured for DMZ, so all it’s doing is PPPoE and NAT, no packet filtering). One more box, I guess…

    The only sticking point I had is that only one port on the ONT is configured, and CenturyLink installer did not mention or document that. It was port 4, and of course I was trying to use port 1. That was a full day of hair-pulling. Once I plugged into the right port, it came right up.

  5. I would like to get some opinions on what others would recommend for a router to use with CL fiber service. I am looking for one that will allow for the best wired throughput as well as good wireless. I have a ranch style house that is not large with a finished basement. I have cat5 cabling going downstairs to my office where I have a gigabit switch for the systems in my office. I do not believe I need a Mesh system, I am looking more for a router to replace the CL router that has better throughput. I do not have less than 20 devices that would use wireless and only about 7max at any given time.
    What are some recommendations?
    Thanks!

  6. I ended up going with the unifi dream machine. It is alittle more expensive but the features you get are amazing. You also can do IPS at full speed.

    1. Joseph what are you getting for wired throughput on it? Some users with other routers are in the 900 or higher on wired connections.

  7. I have Centurylink Fiber and have the C3000Z. I have the Nighthawk X10 and just got the Nighthawk AX12, but not sure if I am going to keep it. I would like to set this up ideal, but having issues. I tried setting it up as described and I was down for a while and had to go back to the C3000Z and hook up the X10 at the moment. What should I do here?

      1. Thank you for the information. It’s now working, but the only thing I havne’t done is put it in VLAN as described in the article. This won’t take the network down, and I assume this will help out?

        1. I have set it up in VLAN, and my network is still up. I want to double-check I should be good to put the ethernet that goes to my CenturyLink modem/router directly to the Nighthawk AX12?

          1. Yes as long as the internet VLAN is set to 201 on the wan you can go directly from the optical network terminal to your nighthawk.

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