Since moving to Kansas City to get Google Fiber is not an option
August 28, 2013 9:00 AM   Subscribe

What DSL modem should I buy?

I had an Actiontec Q1000 DSL modem with a built in router and wireless access point that worked well enough for the last two years. Our internet connection quit last week so CenturyLink sent a tech out who informed us that it had failed. He replaced it with an Actiontec C1000a.

Though it appears to be basically the same unit, it sucks. I copied all of the settings from the old router so it should be setup exactly the same but we're still having intermittent connection issues, none of the links work in the HTML-based configuration page when I use chrome and some don't work using IE, and some things that worked before (specifically accessing an MMSH stream using VLC from a webcam on a PC in my living room that I use to keep an eye on the dog) don't work for some reason that I can't find.

Instead of paying CenturyLink $100 for the pile of garbage that I have now, I'd like to buy my own modem and have a separate wireless access point/router/gateway. Furthermore, I want to take a step beyond something that is just serviceable and step up to something good. They have a list here of supported modems and I confirmed with them that I need one that will support VDSL2. I don't need to buy one off that list though, any VDSL2 modem should work just fine though getting them to troubleshoot it may an issue. I'm confident enough in my own (though somewhat meager) troubleshooting abilities that I don't feel a need to buy one of their supported modems.

Based on a recommendation from The Wirecutter, I plan to purchase this router (it will be a while before I have any devices with 802.11AC) and then purchase a straight DSL modem. I hope to get faster connection speeds and keep devices separated so that if one breaks, I don't have to replace the whole thing (especially since the DSL modem seems to be more likely to break and be cheaper to replace).

All of the VDSL2 compatible modems that I can find and are actually available new for purchase seem to either be really expensive, or include a router and/or wireless access point (example here).

This is the closest I've been able to find to what I want but it still has a router built in that I don't need. My understanding is that the DSL modem itself doesn't have much to do with the connection speeds so, as long as it doesn't break, one is just as good as another.

So my questions are:
1. Is there something better and/or cheaper than this Zhone modem that I've found?

2. Given that we use the internet a lot, for a lot of different things on many different wired and wireless devices, am I really better off getting a cheap modem and an expensive access point/router?

3. Is there some better solution that I'm overlooking?

Just in case it's relevant, here are the devices that we use:

Two laptops, wireless mostly just internet browsing
Desktop PC used as an HTPC and video streaming
Desktop PC used for downloading through a VPN and gaming (usually online FPS multiplayer)
Work desktop that always uses a VPN
Samsung Galaxy S3
iPhone 5
iPad 3
A Zyxel NAS
PS3 on a wired connection
posted by VTX to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
 
It's basically impossible to buy a DSL modem these days that is just a modem. They all have a router built in now. Fortunately, almost all of them can be put into bridge mode, which disables their routing/firewall and passes through the connection to another router. Whichever one you end up with, find instructions on putting it into bridge mode and do it.

I found the manual to that Zhone modem/router and it looks like you can set it up for bridging, but it's not trivial. I have a bonded ADSL2+ router/modem from Zyxel with a similar UI, and I got bridging working a while ago with some luck and some instructions online. Maybe another VDSL2 modem would be easier, but I'm not familiar with them, as they're kind of rare compared to ADSL2+ modems.

Anyway, I think you're on the right track. That ASUS wireless router is great.
posted by zsazsa at 10:57 AM on August 28, 2013


Oh, before going out and getting another modem (but after getting the ASUS), maybe try using your existing Actiontec C1000a in bridge mode.

And, one final option if you have to get a modem/router that can't be put into bridge mode is to use the ASUS in AP mode, where it just provides wireless but does no routing.
posted by zsazsa at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2013


Our internet connection quit last week so CenturyLink sent a tech out who informed us that it had failed. He replaced it with an Actiontec C1000a.

Though it appears to be basically the same unit, it sucks. I copied all of the settings from the old router so it should be setup exactly the same but we're still having intermittent connection issues


what you want is to put the actiontec into bridge mode where it will function solely as a modem.

this is somewhat off-topic but dsl lines are often really badly maintained: "the biggest open-air copper scrapyard" according to one technician. your intermittent connection issues could be a developing problem with the line. in my area, one section of the line goes under train tracks and routinely floods (as reported to me)... coincidentally, my dsl goes out when it rains.

be prepared to escalate tech support if the connection issues continue.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:39 AM on August 28, 2013


Response by poster: The connection issues we're having are all with the local network. Any device that can connect to the router can access the internet just fine, it's connecting to the router or connecting to another device on the LAN that's an issue.

Plan B is to stick the modem I have into bridge mode and let the ASUS work as the router. The reason I want to replace it is because CenturyLink wants to charge me $100 for it. I should still be able to return it to them and get that $100 back. I want to get a standalone modem because it will be either A. cheaper than the Actiontec modem or B. better in some way than the Actiontec, preferably both.
posted by VTX at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2013


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