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!)

655 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.

    1. Hi Chris,
      I’m only getting about 100MBPS when I should be getting 900+GPBS on Centurylink Fiber Optic internet.
      Please make sure I get this right: Setup the Velop in transparent bridging first, then after configuring it with the PPoE credentials and the VLAN tag of 201, disconnect the centurylink modem/router and it should work at real GB like speeds?

      1. I have the connection type in the Velop set to PPPoE with my username/password and VLAN ID of 201.

        Also, make sure you check using the router’s Speed Check (or something wired directly to the router) as my speeds over wifi are quite a bit slower than the 900+Mbps I get from the router’s Speed Check function.

  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.

  8. Found your page very useful! Thank you so much! I wanted to share my experience (as of 09/30/20) in case someone buys a TP-Link router (Archer whatever the version or any recent TP-Link router as the firmware are generally the same in terms of layout) and runs into connectivity issues/questions. I like this brand as I’ve used their products for a long time (good support and rock solid products). I’m on CenturyLink Gigabyte Fiber located in St. Paul, MN. The router that CL gave me (a ZYXEL C3000Z) worked well until they upgraded the firmware recently and took away the parental control options (head-scratch-er!). The company has complete control on the ZYXEL C3000Z and they would automatically update the firmware if flashed to a previous version (which is what I did to get the parental control features back). I got fed up with it since I could not find a way to block it from being remotely accessed by CL and bought a TP-Link AC4000 router. For the price I paid, it could not beat the myriad of features.

    However, setting it up to replace my current router was a little tricky. If you are required (and this is not singular to Century Link) to use PPoE AND VLAN then the PPoE part of the setup is pretty obvious. The VLAN part of setup will be found under the “IPTV (function)” which is under Advanced/Network then IPTV. Here’s the link to how to set it up:
    https://www.tp-link.com/us/support/faq/1585/

    The VLAN option on this router (and I assume on most TPLink routers) isn’t as obvious as with other make/models. But once set up (201 was the magic number for me), it connected and it performs beautifully and I, now, have the parental control options I need.

    If the above doesn’t work and you still don’t get a WAN IP and access to the internet, you might need to clone the MAC address (there is an option in the router’s setup) of your previous router and type it in or call the company and have them register your new router’s MAC address. I did not have to do this but I know in some markets, this is a required step.

    If the link I listed is no longer valid, email me and I’ll send you the PDF of the webpage listed there. I saved for further reference.

  9. Trying to determine whether to go with Velop WiFi 6 or Unifi Dream machine. Using nighthawk currently but with poor and VLAN getting wired speeds of 500mps instead of 900+ maps. Got a 2 story home with total 4000sqft. Any suggestions plz ?

      1. Which Nighthawk? I had a similar problem. One day the wired connection just went to ~430 mbps. I did a factory reset and it straightened things out, at least for the time being. Have you tried a factory reset?

          1. Bummer. Not sure what could be causing the problem, then. The only other changes I made in my setup was to set the VLAN priority to 7 but I can’t see how that would actually do anything. Do you still have the CenturyLink router they gave you when you got the service installed? That would be worth checking out as there could be a problem on your line. I’ve called CenturyLink before and they were able to test the line speed remotely, so you could do that, too.

      1. I am using a dream machine with 2 unifi AP’s. could probably get away with one but used 2 to make sure coverage is there. I love the dream machine as it has expected speeds in th ~940 mbps range. The features in a dream machine far exceed what you would get in an a normal consumer router. It also has IPS with very little loss of bandwidth. Very close to 900 mbps with IPS enabled

        1. Bear in mind that if you have a lot of traffic the basic Dream Machine is pretty underpowered, especially with IPS enabled. It will speed test at 900, but multiple simultaneous client connections will quickly overwhelm the CPU. Ubiquity themselves only rate it at 450mbit total throughput with 10 active clients.

          It’s still a great device for home use, but if you have a gaggle of teenagers at home, it might be worth moving up to the Dream Machine Pro instead. ;)

  10. Can anyone help? I tried all I could a year ago and had to give up with this same exact set up. Now I’m trying again and still can’t get it to work.

    1. Did you try also powering off and back on the ONT? It’s been a while since I did this, I had some trouble too, but I’m pretty sure that was the last thing I was missing.

      Try this after you’ve done all the steps up to and including Part 1 Step C:

      1. disconnect the ethernet cables and power off all the devices… Disconnect the ethernet cable between the ONT and the centurylink router, and disconnect the ethernet cable between the centurylink router and your personal router. Disconnect the power from all three devices.

      2. Reconnect the ethernet cables. The ethernet cable from the ONT should go into the Internet/WAN port of the centurylink router, and the cable from the centurylink router and your personal router should go between a LAN port in the centurylink router, and the Internet/WAN port of your personal router.

      3. Reconnect the power to the ONT, centurylink router and your personal router.

      4. Wait for a while as everything connects, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Cross your fingers will probably help. You might try logging back into the personal router to re-apply the PPPoE login information, I think I did that last time after I lost patience, but probably would have worked anyway.

      1. So you had it set up with bridging mode on the c2100t and Netgear on AP mode before starting anything? When did you switch the Netgear to router mode?

        1. After the centurylink router is switched from router to bridge mode, the personal router should be put in router mode. So as part of step C.

  11. I have the Orbi RBK23 mesh system. Just signed up for CL fiber with 1G up/down. My house is also hooked up with cat5e. If I’m correct, I should just follow the directions and then connect the Orbi router to the main switch. Then I can connect the satellites in the other rooms via Ethernet to create an Ethernet backhaul mesh system. I’m going to try it once they do the install on Thursday. Hopefully the tech can give me the PPoE login.

    1. If they won’t give it to you (and they probably won’t, they use contractors for this stuff, and they get dinged if there is a call that the line isn’t working after their visit), a quick call to CL support will get you sorted. Just tell them you need it to connect via a router that your work requires you to use if they need a reason.

  12. This is amazing- great consise info and steps! Thank you. Was able to setup a Netgear r7000p in about 10 mins. Getting ~600mbps speeds too

  13. Why would you have working internet after step c? The CenturyLink router is in bridging mode and Netgear in router so it shouldn’t work then…

  14. It’s no different than the centurylink router connecting to the internet with a PPPoE login, and at the same time acting as router for the home network. You’re just setting up your personal router to do the same thing, so you can get rid of the centurylink router. Only reason for the centurylink router (or DSL modem) is for the hardware needed handle a DSL connection, but that doesn’t apply when there’s an ONT delivering signal to the router.

  15. Has anyone gotten this to work WITHOUT access to the ONT?

    I live in an apartment complex with a Netgear RAX45, C3000z (gotta confirm that), and 40/10 fiber on CenturyLink.

    In the past, I set the modem to transparent bridging, configured VLAN tagging to 201 untagged on my RAX45, but my RAX45 would suffer frequent disconnects or have no internet at all. The highest speed I ever got was less than 1mbps either direction. My solution was to put the RAX in AP mode and just disable the radios on the CTL modem, but recently I think its been the reason why my work’s VPN is incredibly slow….My IT department said that everyone on Centurylink runs into that issue, ugh.

    I spent some time reading through all these comments from 2016-2020, and I’m fairly sure I can make it work…but the problem is that Centurylink is uncooperative, won’t give me PPPoE logins (luckily one tech accidentally gave them to me!) and I don’t think I have direct access to the ONT, which might be a big problem. My apartment has what appears to be an in-wall switch, but nothing like the ONTs that people have been talking about here. I’m assuming its locked behind a closet door and is distributing gigabit fiber to multiple apartments. Am I totally screwed without access to the ONT in order to restart it?

    TLDR;
    Right now, as soon as I put the modem into transparent bridge mode, and have my RAX45 set up with PPPoE and VLAN 201, my internet disconnects and doesn’t really come back up. I don’t have access to the ONT to restart it. Any ideas?

  16. In my case, the internet didn’t work at all until the power on the ONT was cycled, so not sure if it would do anything for you since you do connect (albeit poorly). As an alternative to power cycling the ONT, you could try MAC spoofing your personal router to match the MAC of your centurylink router.

    At my parents house, the way their internet was set up, they were running into double NAT issues. It was not the case of there being a modem and router both in router mode, rather there was hardware distributing the internet between several houses that was causing the issue. In our case, her ISP advised us we could turn the router to AP mode and their hardware would handle the routing function. Which worked. Not sure your issue, but just suggesting it may have to do with upstream hardware distributing internet in the apartments.

    You could consider trying to bypass all of your hardware and following instructions to connect your computer directly to the ONT. You may need a Switch in the middle that can do vlan tagging if your computers network card cannot do this. Your computer should be capable of dialing in with the pppoe credentials.

    1. I tried again last night for another four hours. I think the inaccessible ONT might be dooming me, since I can’t power cycle it when I make my changes. After spending a good seven hours on it, I realized that Spectrum has (potentially) speeds up to 100mps for just $10 more, and they’re also gigabit capable, and allow you to bring your own router and modem if you wish. So I think I found my answer, just not in the way I was expecting. Thanks for the help!

      (Side note, I tried copying the MAC address, but this still didn’t work. I think the RAX45 either straight up doesn’t work on CL outside of AP mode, or it’s user error. Either way, I’ve easily spent 15+ hours on this, and I think I’m ready to try a new ISP).

  17. I recently upgraded to Gigabit service with century link. My Asus RT-AC68U was seeing dismal results. I had everything configured and had a good connection, but the speed was being limited to less than 200Mbps, sometimes I was only seeing 80 Mbps. After many hours of searching, I finally decided to start from scratch. Here’s what I did:

    1. Made sure my PPPoE creds were copied somewhere safe
    2. Went to ASUS and downloaded the most recent firmware. The router was not detecting an available new version.
    3. Manually uploaded the new firmware package.
    4. Still no good results
    5. Did a factory reset and set up a new network using all my old settings.
    6. Works like a charm. My wired XBox One is now reporting over 600 Mbps which is what it was reporting with the century link router.

    I’m not sure where the issue was. I’m thinking the router may have been caching some setting based on the networks previous connection limits. I hope this helps someone else struggling to see good connection speeds.

    Like stated above, to get the VLAN setting right, go to LAN -> IPTV and set the internet VID to 201

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