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!)

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

  1. Thanks this worked for me on. Netgear 7900. Removed the ZyXel / Century Link 3000Z. I had to reset and reboot a few times while I was doing the config.
    The key is to make sure you get internet working on the netgear when it is connected to the Centurylink modem.

  2. Hooked my Asus ac68u directly to the Centurylink Ont. Internet worked with no modifications to the asus router. I do only get about 500MB downloads with testing from speedtest.net

  3. Glad I ran into this post. Kinda a semi-novice with networking, but when I noticed that my centurylink modem was hooked to the internet via the wan/lan port rather than the DSL, it got me thinking that it was not doing anything that special that my Orbi router couldn’t do on its own. Managed to get as far as bridge mode, but I had no idea about the vlan, so thanks for clearing up that road block!

    A comment above mentioned a possible need for a switch to get the vlan working correct (and especially if you have a router that doesn’t support the option in the first place). In my case, it wasn’t necessary. I just followed the original directions exactly…. and then power-cycled both my new router and the Optical Network Terminal… maybe I just didn’t wait long enough, but it seemed like it wasn’t working until I did the power cycle, then it was good to go.

    I also only subscribe to a 40 mbps connection, so I’m not sure if I have any of the reduced speed issues others with higher bandwidth connections were having… but
    the connection statistics currently lists the WAN at 1000M/Full, so I’m guessing that’s a good sign.

    My router is an Orbi RBR20. the optical network terminal that’s installed by the circuit breaker is a Calix 711GE

  4. This is pretty much the same setup I had CenturyLink provider, C2000T ActionTec, Netgear Nighthawk R7000 worked like a charm and used it for a few years.

    Now I have a Linksys AC2200 router that allows me to set the VLAN tag and voila back in service!

    It’s always good to keep that CenturyLink provider, C2000T ActionTec around for troubleshooting if needed IMHO.

  5. Anyone ever figure out why the Nighthawk (R8000) cannot do above 450 Mb transfer speeds? I have 1000 Mb service and it gets lost in the Nighthawk.

  6. Just got CenturyLink gigabit GPON service today. Saw speeds of 875/700mpbs with the supplied centurylink modem when the installer installed it, but, while I’m able to connect with vlan201 and ppoe from my pfsense box, I’m only getting 60/5mbps with that hardare. Sucks because the installer took the modem back with him.

    I don’t see any rate limiting in my pfsense config. Anybody else seen centurylink rate limit by mac address or anything?

    1. Billm, you don’t mention any detail on what hardware you are running pfSense on, the hardware makes all the difference and pfSense takes a lot more hardware to match these low cost custom hardware routers like Mikrotik or Ubiquiti.

  7. Hardware is a net gate sg-2440. It turns out I had an old rate limiter til still in my config.

    Getting rid of that got me up to about 450/450. Some kernel tuning got me a bit further, and further still by enabling powerD and string to maximum. I’m now getting about 775/775. This close to but not quite as good as the CL supplied box. Then again I don’t know if that was tested with nat or what.

  8. Thank you – used your post to setup centurylink fiber on Nighthawk X10 R9000. Cannot get speed above 200/100 Mbps – will continue digging.

    1. You are testing with hardwired gigabit connection, right? Do you have any QoS settings enabled? Is the R9000 brand new, or was it previously used on another connection? You might try starting with a factory reset and making sure the firmware is up to date.

      It is fully possible that the R9000 sucks for PPPoE, as many routers do…but I would expect it to be better than 200mbps. I have no experience with the R9000, though it doesn’t appear you should ever expect more than ~740mbps out of it (which is laughable for a device that claims to have 10Gig support).

  9. Anyone here use a Ubiquiti USG and have APs? CenturyLink 1gig service, ONT>Zyxel 3000z>USG>8 port switch> then APs or wired connections. If I can get rid of the Zyxel I’m still within the return period and could save some bucks. Can anyone help me?

  10. Worked on an Linksys EA8500. However I couldn’t connect to Internet with the Transparent Bridging on the C2100T. Had to do the manual cable swap before it worked with the Linksys. I freaked out for a bit, but all’s well that ends well.

    Thanks,

  11. I installed CL 1Gig Fiber last year and hard connection doesn’t exceed 650mbps. Not really concerned there but my wifi is all over the place ranging from 1mbps to 250mbps. It’s a constant roller coaster and even drops connection from time to time. CL tech states this is a wifi issue and they don’t guarantee wifi speeds. Why would signal be constantly changing?

    I remember trying to use my Nighthawk R7000 AC 1900 router but speeds were limited.

  12. I’m wondering if anyone else has tried this with the new Nighthawk RAX40? I just got one and CL doesn’t seem to want to push an IP or DNS address to the router. I have used my PPPoE creds they gave me, and done all the steps but as soon as I change the internet connection type from no to yes, i get no internet… even after changing the VLAN tag still nothing. I’m about done with the new hardware and about ready to return it for a different model that is known to work.

  13. I have gig internet with Century Link and a tp link c9. When trying to do the vlan it is asking me for the ip vlan phone as well. SHould I just keep that blank?

  14. Thanks for this. It worked perfectly for me using an R7800. Like Jeremy, I had to actually remove the CL device from my network and set the VLAN Id on the Netgear before the internet actually worked.

  15. These instructions worked perfectly for me using an ASUS RT-AC86U and C3000Z CenturyLink modem, the extra ASUS tip was a real help (http://i.imgur.com/vfBqOJj.png).

    I just plugged in the settings and all I had to do was restart my router once — didn’t even need to restart the ONT

  16. Hi, has anyone in this thread had any success using Tomato Router [FreshTomato Firmware 2019.2 K26ARM USB AIO-64K], running on Netgear R7000.
    I currently get 832MBps down / 930MBps up which is awesome with the CL modem/router inline in transparent mode, I was wanting to remove that point of failure.
    Steps I attempted:
    On tomato router under VLAN:
    Note the Netgear R7000 is already doing PPPoE login successfully.
    I set WAN VID (vlan id) from 2 to 201, the router asks to restart, https://imgur.com/MFeYETC, upon restart I remove CL modem/router and direct connect R7000 WAN to the same port on Fibre media converter.
    The R7000 reports PPPoE as constantly trying to reconnect, does not successfully authenticate.
    Does CL use some sort of MAC address filtering, ie. need to ring them up to allow the R7000 WAN mac?

    1. solved it myself…. stupid mistake… needed to tick ‘tagged=on’, in addition to ‘201’ VID, missed that option. Works great now, with CL modem/router removed.

  17. Thanks for this guide, used it a few years back when I first got rid of their router! Worked great until I updated my services. In Omaha, I originally had PrismTV and Gigabit service. This ran on my ASUS AC3100 by simply setting the VLAN to 201 and nothing else really needed changed. Then I dropped PrismTV and couldn’t get the internet to work all day today. I called the internet repair number and they told me that it gets switched to PPPoE. Input that and it worked great!

  18. I’m hoping that someone in the comments here can help out. I have a CenturyLink 940/940 fiber connection with a Netgear X6S AC3600 router that I got from Costco. With a wired connection, I get the full bandwidth, but on wireless I get maybe half that, even when I’m near the router. Here’s the odd thing: with our old Xfinity connection, I would get faster download speeds consistently, so I know the router is (was?) capable of faster wireless speeds. Anyone have any ideas or similar experiences? Thanks!

    1. Chasing full gigabit on wireless is a fool’s exercise, it is not practical or possible…and you likely have zero use cases that require it, so why waste the time? Most use cases don’t need anywhere close to 100megabits, so if you get 100megabits wireless consider it more than adequate.

      It is impossible for anyone to troubleshoot why wireless is “slow” and it has nothing to do with the Internet service, so you will need to look at groups and discussions specific to your piece of hardware…if that is your router or your client hardware. Without having RF reports for your environment there is an infinite number of variables, it could be that your channel selection is bad…and if you are in an even remotely urban environment, expecting to use 80MHz channels reliably is laughable and just makes WiFi bad for you and your neighbors.

      Sorry to be blunt, but that is reality.

      1. A suggestion: when you have to type “Sorry to be blunt”, maybe take a moment to consider whether or not you needed to be “blunt”, though in this case I think the word that’s more appropriate is “rude”. Why not try to be helpful instead? If you feel like you can’t be helpful, maybe don’t say anything?

        I have asked this question on various places on the Internet and have yet to get an answer that actually addresses it in a meaningful way, so I asked my question here because that I thought someone in these comments could help. The core part of this question has to do with why Internet service from one provider (in this case CenturyLink) would have different wifi speeds than service from another provider (Xfinity) despite having the same router set up in the same physical location. The only thing that has changed is the Internet provider. This shouldn’t make a difference but for whatever reason it does.

        You may not have a reason for needing over 100 mbps, but other people out there (for example, those who regularly need to upload and download very large files) do.

        So if you have an idea why wifi speeds would be different from one provider to another with the same hardware, I would love to hear it! Thanks for taking the time to consider the question.

        1. Jason, WiFi will never match wired Ethernet. There are many reasons not the least of which WiFi is half duplex while Ethernet is full duplex. There are also reductions in speed due to overhead in the wireless protocols, interference, user devices not matching the same specifications, etc.
          This means that actual WiFi throughput will always be less than half of the advertised speed. Marketers routinely advertise the full theoretical throughput. Buyers need to understand that actual throughput will always always be less than half of the advertised speed.
          See this excellent explaination: http://liveqos.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Why-Your-WiFi-Doesnt-Deliver.pdf

          1. Hi John,

            Thanks for the reply and the link. My concern is not about my *absolute* wifi speeds and more about *relative* wifi speeds: with the same router in the same physical location and same configuration and the same laptop, my wifi download speeds are slower with CenturyLink than they were with Xfinity. I am trying to understand why this might be so. With Xfinity, my wifi download speeds maxed out at 470 mbps. With CenturyLink, I’m getting around 320 mbps.

  19. Lots of possibilities. The change in provider is not the issue if the wired speed are similar.
    Any chance there are recently added neighboring access points, baby monitors, tv sound bars, etc, etc. in the area that might be causing additional interference? Netspot or competing software will diagnose the neighboring WiFi AP issue. An RF spectral analyzer will be require to find other devices.
    Has a recent firmware update on the access point or client device slowed the throughput?
    You need to work through all the possibilities listed in the PDF.

    1. The CenturyLink connection is a 940 down. The Xfinity connection was rated at 400 down but I would regularly get 470. (This sort of “extra bandwidth” was always typical with my Xfinity connections.) I would get the same speeds wired as wireless with the Xfinity connection.

      I literally tested the two connections one after the other, multiple times, as they were hooked up concurrently before I canceled the Xfinity connection and got the same results each time so I am doubtful that it’s interference from another device.

  20. The Xfinity and CenturyLink WAN connections are NOT the same configurations. One is DHCP and the other is PPPoE across a VLAN. My guess your Netgear router is not handling the new connection as efficiently.

    1. I thought that, too! But my wired connection through the router gets the full bandwidth, around or over 900 mbps consistently. I figured if it was the PPPoE+VLAN then the wired connection would see a similar performance hit but it doesn’t.

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