DSL basics. What hardware do I need?
December 4, 2006 3:06 PM   Subscribe

SanFranciscoWiFi: I currently have DSL service with AT&T. It came with a DSL modem/wireless router thingy from 2WIRE. Can I replace the 2Wire? If so, what are my options? Please speak to me as if I were a child because in the area of networking, I am.
posted by vacapinta to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I also have AT&T/SBC/Yahoo DSL in San Francisco (a land line plus DSL). I use a D-LINK wireless router without a problem. Every time it gets messed up (about once every three months) I spent about an hour on the phone with AT&T and then an hour on the phone with D-LINk. They are used to the people calling being total idiots, as I am.

Okay, here's my tag-on question -- My DSL is in my former roommate's name, and I've been paying it for about a year since she moved out.

I keep trying to move the account into my name, and have called AT&T about 6 different times. At first they said that I could move the account after the one-year contract commitment was over, and that my ex-roommate had to give permission.

That one year passed, and my ex-roomie called to give permission. Then I called and they said that I had to turn off my ex-roommate's phone & DSL and then re-start the land line and then add DSL. And that there will be a lag time for at least 5 business days.

This seems completely bizarre to me. Why won't they just switch the name to mine? Why do I need to go without service for a week? (I work from home a lot.) The only way around it is to install a completely separate land line into my apartment, paying for the wiring, turn that line on, install DSL on that line, and then turn off the other lines. Which will cost as much as $100 plus.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2006

Response by poster: Claudia: You must have a DSL modem too, right? I'm asking for recommendations on which DSL modem to replace the 2Wire with....Or, is yours one of those combo modem/router things?
posted by vacapinta at 4:14 PM on December 4, 2006

Right, I have a DSL modem from ATT, etc., plus a D-Link router from Best Buy.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:18 PM on December 4, 2006

PS The modem is a Siemens, and is what came with the DSL service. And the router is D-Link. (Sorry I'm tech-challenged.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:21 PM on December 4, 2006

First, vacapinta, is the 2Wire router not working or do you just want to add a voip or similar system into the mix?

As for your main question, go to amazon or newegg, do a search for "DSL Modem" and buy whichever one you want. DSL standards are an acronym soup, but you don't need to worry about that, since all new ones support all the common protocols. If you're worried, just make sure it explicitly supports both G.dmt (G.992.1) and G.lite (G.992.2). Also, make sure it specifically says 'Ethernet'; there are DSL modems that attach to usb ports and that are pci cards you stick in your PC. You don't want either of those types.

Also, you can order a new Siemens modem for $50 and a new 2-Wire wireless router for $80 direct from AT&T, and they'll put it right on your phone bill. I don't know what their current policy is, but last time I did this, they allowed the $50 rebate offer (i.e. free modem) as long as you signed up for a year contract. However, they were still called SBC when I did that, and they recently did away with the 1-year contracts, so that deal may be only for new customers now. It's still not a bad price by any means.
posted by boaz at 6:04 PM on December 4, 2006

You can replace it, but why bother if it is working OK? The modem and the router are often 2 separate boxes. The modem is actually a device called a bridge, and it links your home network to ATT's network. The DSL phone wire plugs into the back of it. If you only have one computer you can plug that into the back of the modem/bridge and you are basically ready.
If you want to share your DSL connection among multiple computers, or configure wireless, you use the router for that. Any wireless router available at BestBuy/ Compusa, etc. will do. Linksys, NetGear, Dlink are popular brands. It will hook up something like this.
With a router you can also: configure security for the wireless network, add some firewall or web filtering controls, and more. What's your goal?
posted by pgoes at 6:57 PM on December 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. The 2Wire is working and as a DSL modem I suppose its fine but I'd like more in my wireless router. Can I decouple it and use it only as a DSL modem and then attach a router to it and go from there? I think the answer is yes...
posted by vacapinta at 10:01 PM on December 4, 2006

The answer is yes, you can disable the wireless stuff in the 2Wire and use your own wifi access point. How? I'll get the information for you tomorrow. Friend of mine is a DSL support monkey for SBC.
posted by drstein at 10:32 PM on December 4, 2006

"ok, if you log into the 2wire, (gateway.2wire.net), click on broadband connection, then wireless settings on the right
some of the firmware has an option to disable the wireless feature there, others you have to put the thing in bridgemode to disable wireless"

From my SBC phone monkey friend.
posted by drstein at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks drstein! I'll give it a try!
posted by vacapinta at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2006

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