How to Dsl and have wireless?
September 2, 2016 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a relative who lives in a rural area and is held hostage to Verizon DSL:

she has a Westell dsl modem that Verizon gave her probably 8-10 years ago and now wants to have wireless access in her house. I have a Cisco E900 wireless router that I tried to connect to it but couldn't get the security on the router to work with the DSL modem.

So, a few questions:
1. Would the Cisco router work with a newer dsl modem?
2. Since the modem is so old, should it just be replaced anyway?
3. If replacing it, does a modem/router combination make sense? Is there such a thing? What would y'all recommend?

Also whatever she gets needs to work well with Windows and Mac.
posted by ashworth to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live in a rural area and have Verizon (well now it's Fairpoint) DSL. There shouldn't be an issue connecting a wireless router (that's my setup) so it may be that there is something in the configuration that is flummoxing you? Can you talk more about what wasn't working? Do you have access to the Cisco settings? And she can probably just replace the Westell with a newer version that does wireless and wired. Basically if I were her, I'd spell it out to Verizon, resist attempts from them to upsell her on renting a DSL modem from them, get a list of brands that should work and then buy one cheaply from Walmary/Ebay/Amazon/something. Here's one for $25.
posted by jessamyn at 10:37 AM on September 2, 2016

Response by poster: I will have access to the Cisco settings this weekend. In the meantime, here are a few more specifics: it's a Westell 6100 and I looked at this page,, among a few others that give directions to changing to bridge mode. For some reason, I couldn't have any security on a wireless router in bridge mode. (For example, for my own cable modem/wireless router setup, I have a password to my wireless network). Weirdly, once I switch the Westell to bridge mode, I couldn't put in a password.

Also, I just bought my own cable modem because renting seemed like a waste of money - should I recommend that she do the same? I'm hesitating because I don't know if troubleshooting a DSL modem is more difficult than a regular old cable modem.
posted by ashworth at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2016

OK I wasn't clear from what you said: are you trying to replace her router with yours or just put yours "inside" hers and use yours to provide wireless while the other one just provides wired access? If you set the Westell to bridge mode, then it's not the thing that is doing security, the other modem would be (i.e. the Cisco). When I've seen this setup, you set the wireless modem to bridge mode and just use it to pass through traffic from the wired router. So it's like this


Then the Westell does the passwords and whatever.

DSL modems are sort of stupid and only do a few things, it really depends if you want to make the telco responsible for it or if you feel okay doing it and if your relative wouldn't mind calling Verizon tech support if something went sideways.
posted by jessamyn at 11:59 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just did this for my friend last week!

For my friend it ended up being that the DHCP settings were wonky.
Basically, there's a setting somewhere that makes it so the Westell will do all the PPP stuff and then give the computer the IP over DHCP. Because there's only one outward IP, this only works with one device.

You need to make the router use NAT (so it gives every device a local IP address). IIRC, the setting is either in the firewall section, or in the IP section. You'll probably have to delve into the advanced settings.
I can't seem to find the manual for it, so I can't really get more specific, but once I fixed that, it worked fine with a WIFI AP in bridge mode.

Alternatively, you can just buy a new ADSL modem/router combo. They've gotten really cheap if you don't need all the crazy features. Here's one that I've used.
posted by ooklala at 4:46 PM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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