dsl router question


I'm about to switch my broadband connection from cable to dsl (because that's what work's willing to pay for), and I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, I'll have to change about how we have the network set up here.

Right now the cable comes into an upstairs bedroom that doesn't have a phone line, and the wireless router is attached to the cable modem. One computer (an older mac) is physically attached to the router, and the rest of the computers in the house use WiFi.

The DSL provider (Frontier) is telling me that the phone line for the DSL has to go directly to a computer, which doesn't make sense to me. If that's true, we'll have to pay $70 to have a new phone line run upstairs, which I really don't want to do.

So the question is, can I handle a DSL line the same way I do a cable line, hooking it into a router without having a CPU in the same place? Or was the Frontier rep on the phone right about needing to co-locate the incoming DSL with an actual CPU?


Hi Liz,

Don't listen to your provider. :)

Both residential cable and DSL services terminate at a device that's programmed to hand out a public/routable IP address via DHCP to whatever's connected to it (PC or router). Your wireless router is configured to take that IP, NAT it and hand out private IP's via DHCP to both the old mac and your wireless laptops. Your wireless router won't care whether it's getting the public IP from a cable or DSL box.

Things get tricky if PPPoE is involved, but there's not much of that from providers in and around the Rochester area. The rep you talked to was probably reading from a script designed to limit connection sharing.

Hit me up via AIM or IRC if you'd like to talk about this in more detail. :)

The answer to your question depends on what sort of DSL modem Frontier is going to give you.

USB Type: This (older style) modem connects to the DSL (phone) line with a standard phone jack. It also connects to a CPU via a USB connection. With this type of connection, the CPU becomes the gateway, and all computers must connect through that computer. Therefore, in this case, the DSL line must be in close proximity to the CPU.

More than likely though, you will receive:

Ethernet Type: This type of DSL modem connects to the DSL (phone) line with a standard phone jack. It also connects EITHER to a standalone CPU's network jack OR the WAN port (network jack) on the router using standard network cable.

I had AT&T DSL (Covad... evil.. stay away) over the summer. They provided an ethernet type DSL modem. I was able to connect it as follows:

DSL (phone) Line > (phone cord) > DSL Modem > (network cable) > Router > Clients (wired direct to the router or wireless)

Typically, the reason that Frontier or AT&T doesn't "support" using a router instead of a standalone CPU is twofold:

1) The DSL company usually has their own proprietay software to install on the CPU connected directly to the DSL modem. This software is intentionally simple & straightforward (and thus easy to support). There's also a single point of failure (usually their end).

2) The DSL company doesn't want to get in the middle of "network issues" beyond their control. Typically, when I would call AT&T (Covad) to report another service outage, they would ask me to REMOVE the router and connect the DSL modem directly to a CPU.

So, that's a partial answer... here's the rest...

If you want to keep a similar setup (have all Internet traffic go through your router (best option)), you will have to make sure that you can:

1) Get a DSL modem from Frontier with an ethernet jack.
2) Have your DSL modem in a place close to the router, or get a long network cable to go from the DSL modem (wherever it plugs into the phone) to the router.
3) Log into and configure your router for (typically) PPPoE authentication to connect to DSL. Frontier might have a guide, but sometimes not.

The part that the DSL companies hate to bother with is the configuration of the router. Depending on the service agreement, there might be a clause that states something to the effect of "connecting multiple computers through a router or similar equipment is not supported or condoned by Behemoth DSL, Inc.". So you'd be pretty much on your own on that one.

It's relatively easy to set up a DSL modem through a router (took me about 5 minutes). Either way though, you're going to have to run a cord somewhere... either a long phone cord up from a phone jack to the DSL modem (sitting next to the router) OR a long network cord going from the DSL modem (next to the phone jack) to the router. So none of this really SOLVES the problem of "there 'aint no phone jack in here".

Hope this helps...
bld0973 at rit dot edu

My network is configured the same way as Brian had:

DSL (phone) Line > (phone cord) > DSL Modem > (network cable) > Router > Clients.

My DSL modem can connect through both USB and ethernet. It is connected by ethernet to my (wireless) router, an old Airport one. Both my comps have a wireless card. Airport NATs it and hands out private IPs via DHCP (just like CRW mentions).

So it should be possible to not directly connect a computer to your DSL modem!

My friend has Frontier DSL and his network is set up the exact same way my cable one is - you should be able to just pretty much plug and play into your existing network (remove cable stuff -> put in the DSL 'equipment' -> move wireless router to the DSL stuff -> Use ethernet and it should work)


It was plug and play for me. Just plug the wireless base station into the DSL modem which you plug into the phone jack they set up and you're right.

I hope it's that easy for you - don't see why it wouldn't be. Good luck!

Wow, I was going to comment but it looks like you have everything taken care of already :-)

Stupid Frontier!

I'm assuming that in this configuration you are using wireless for everything except the old Mac. In that case, crw's instructions for configuring the router make sense to me. I did that yesterday with SBC DSL (we just moved to Palo Alto!), using a laptop and a couple of patch cables--no need to run a long cord anywhere. (But I also retained the DSL login on a couple of machines, in case the router craps out.)

For me, the real fun is figuring out how to set up three phone lines (DSL, phone, and fax) on one single line. It is technically easy, but requires a little head-scratching, particularly if you're cheap like me and want to use one DSL filter for two devices (phone and fax).

Don't forget to warn your family that all the voice phones need DSL filters on their lines, in case they get the urge to move or unplug a phone and don't know what that widget is.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on September 20, 2004 11:11 PM.

coming up for air was the previous entry in this blog.

domain name pricing is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Category Archives