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Modem Modes

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This article explains modem bridge mode versus router mode and how to change between them.

Bridge Versus Routed Mode

DSL modems obtained from NCF are pre-configured and ready to install.

To connect with the internet over DSL, your home network needs to provide "credentials" which are just a user-name and password to authenticate as a legitimate user of NCF service. Usually that is the job of your modem, but there are exceptions.

(If your modem is not pre-configured by NCF, consult the modem configuration guide.)

When you use a single port router, you will need to chose between a routed or a bridge mode. Your choice is pretty simple and is based on how you are going to use the Internet in your home.

How Modems Connect

Your credentials are used for a connection called a PPPoE connection. (That stands for Point-to-Point over Ethernet - a technical term for the connection with our servers.) You need to verify that you are allowed to connect, and your NCF credentials will let you do that.

When you get a single-port router, like the TP-Link 8816, you are likely in one of two situations:

a) you've got one computer which needs a connection and you're going to use an Ethernet cable to connect to the modem and thus to the internet

b) you've got your own router of some kind, and the modem will connect your router to the Internet. Often you have a wireless router and likely a laptop or several computers and maybe some hand-held devices, such as smartphones or tablets.

When you buy a combined modem + wireless router in one unit (like the SmartRG SR505N that NCF sells) you are likely in case 'b' and you don't have to worry about making these choices, because it all happens inside the box.

Bridge versus Routed - Two Ways Modems Connect

Case 'a' above is straight forward. We configure the modem in "Routed" mode, thus it routes data between your computer and the Internet. The modem provides your credentials to the Internet service.

Case 'b' is a bit different. In this case the best setup is to set the modem in "Bridge" mode. Then it bridges your separate router to the Internet. Your router handles the various addressing needs of your devices. A key point though: Your router also must provide your credentials for PPPoE.

Occasionally people in case 'b' use a modem set-up in routed mode - this is inefficient as it imposes an extra layer of addressing on top of your home networking which may result in diminished performance.

To set up your router properly, you need to connect to its configuration page, which is a web interface that lives inside the device. Often the address and password to access that configuration page are written on the bottom of the unit. In other cases, you can find instructions in the device's manual, or on the Internet by using your favourite search engine. Remember, often these days the manual doesn't come with the device, but rather you have to download it from the manufacturer's website. Sometimes it is on a CD given to you with the router. NCF has a list of manuals for the modems we sell or have sold in the past.

But rest assured - NCF configures the modem/router combinations we sell, and that is peace of mind many members are happy to get.

Our limited resources mean that we can not offer set-up of your router or other devices purchased elsewhere. Most router manufacturers provide a thorough manual, usually for download on their website. We will sell you a modem configured in bridge mode at your request.

Your Router Needs Your Credentials

Your goal with a router is to simply set up the PPPoE configuration with your username and password.

Your username will be something in the form of ab123@ncf.ca (with your own ID of course), and your password is your personal DSL password. (That's usually 12 characters, something like ncfabc123def ).

With that set, your modem provides the router an Internet interface, and your router can handle all your local home networking needs.

For more information on setting your router's PPPoE settings to work with your bridge-mode modem, visit the router configuration page.

See also