CenturyLink Modems Guide & Basic Troubleshooting

Eric McAdoo

Linksys CenturyLink Internet Compatible DSL Modem

Geekspeak defines modems as devices that modulate (encode) and demodulate (decode) digital signals so computing devices can send and receive data over the Internet. Fortunately, they are easy to set up and rarely experience any issues. Home modems used for Internet service today often have wireless routing and other features, such as firewalls, built in. They are residential gateways that connect electronics from laptops to smartphones to the Internet. There are modems built to transmit and receive data over DSL, fiber optic and cable Internet connections. Built-in routers enable Ethernet and wireless communication with devices in the home.

CenturyLink Internet Service Modems

CenturyLink is very flexible when it comes to modems. There are many models compatible with offered services. Some modems are combination devices that permit fiber optic or DSL Internet communication along with VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephone service and digital television. The actual brand and model of modem needed depends on the services subscribed to and the infrastructure of the available services at the home’s physical address. Typical CenturyLink modems include models made by Westell, Actiontec, Zyxell, Technicolor, Thompson, Motorola, Cisco, D-Link and Netopia.

Leasing Versus Buying Modems

Customers have the option of providing their own compatible modems they have purchased elsewhere. CenturyLink also offers modems for purchase or leasing. The benefit of purchasing a modem is not having a monthly leasing fee. However, CenturyLink offers modems for as little as $9.99 per month that are perpetually covered under warranty for as long as they are leased. Except for fiber optic, CenturyLink modems typically connect to the Internet through telephone digital subscriber lines (DSL). They also need to be plugged into electrical outlets for power. Surge protectors can protect against power surges that come in over electrical lines, but thunderstorms can cause telephone line power surges. Since setup manuals advise to not route DSL connections through aftermarket surge suppressors to achieve the best performance, leased CenturyLink modems are covered for this sort of damage.

Best Place to Locate Modems With Built-In Wireless Routers

Many modern Internet modems have built in wireless routers. Routers connect all the devices in a home to the modem. Placement is important for strong signals that permit the fastest connection speeds. Choosing a central location in homes is best. This way, signals propagate equally in all directions. Placing modems with wireless routers on top floors of homes helps with stronger signal reception on connected wireless devices. Tall furniture is usually a good spot in single story homes.

If home occupants desire good signal while outdoors on a porch, deck or patio, placement close to an outside wall, window or doorway next to the outdoor space results in stronger signals. External antennas on modems with wireless routers should be in an upright position. Some users may find that dual antenna devices placed on the first floor can give better second floor signal if one antenna is positioned horizontally. If no external antennas are present, the devices should be oriented vertically or horizontally as their operation manuals indicate. Keeping combo modem/router hardware away from masonry walls, microwave ovens and metal helps in not obstructing signals.

Modem Internet Connections

Most CenturyLink modems have ports for power adaptors or electrical cords, DSL cable inputs, and one or more Ethernet ports to connect PCs, printers and other devices that are not wireless. Setting up a new modem usually requires connecting a computer directly to an Ethernet port. Hardwired Ethernet connections are only needed during initial setup of new modems that have built-in wireless routers. DSL modems require connecting plug-in filters at modular phone jacks where telephones are used. After initial setup, wireless devices connect to modem/router units by finding and selecting the wireless device’s SSID and entering the passkey once for each device that is being connected. This makes it easy for laptops, tablets, smartphones, streaming devices, wireless printers and surveillance cameras, game consoles and other hardware to connect to and use CenturyLink’s broadband Internet.

The First Step in Modem/Router Troubleshooting

Using a cell phone to snap pictures of modem/router cables, connections and lights when it is functioning is a great help in troubleshooting if something goes wrong. The best first step to take if an Internet connectivity or other issue arises when using CenturyLink modems is to complete a power cycle restart of the modem and affected devices. A combination modem/router can be easily power cycled by unplugging it from its electrical connection for a few seconds and plugging it back in. Configuration settings are not lost when doing a simple power cycle restart.

If a separate router is connected to the modem, unplug both. Plug in the modem first, and wait for it to reboot. Then, plug in the wireless router. The need to power reset modems/routers should be a rare occurrence, but it is a step that works to resolve most connectivity issues quickly with no further troubleshooting needed. A reset is different and usually involves pressing a tiny button on the back of modems/routers. This causes configuration settings to revert to factory defaults, requiring the initial setup phase to be repeated.

If the power reset didn’t solve you’re problem, or need further assistance please visit our customer service page for contact information and further troubleshooting FAQs.

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