Question Bridging two routers via powerline adapters with only one as a modem, the other a router

Jun 3, 2020
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I think I've set up a bit of a pseudo Double-NAT scenario and I'm really wonder whether my set up is even feasible.

First the rationale:

My modem is a dual modem/router ISP-provided box. It's placed alone on the farthest corner of my home, offering poor connection if it were to run as the sole access point. The hardware and features are all fairly lame and so I have opted to not want to use it at all. The ISP box (from Telus in Canada if it's relevant) has a setting enabled currently for "Bridge Mode" on one of the ports. Ideally, one would place a router next to it into that port and have the 2nd router function as one while the ISP box reverts to a glorified modem. However, as the location is poor, I wanted to both: place a second router in a more central location for signal in the house, and have the same second router (which is the better unit) handle everything internet in my home.

To accomplish that, I used Powerline adapters to connect the two. I disabled wireless on the ISP box (which I hope effectively renders it just a modem), while the 2nd router (a Netgear R7000) does everything wireless and whatever LAN is connected to it directly. The R7000 is somewhere else in the home.

The kicker is that I also have internet TV from the same ISP, which HAS to be connected to the original box to work properly (or at least that's how it's always been). While my setup currently works, due to multiple powerline adapters being used throughout my home, everything WIRED ETHERNET is connected to the ISP box. Everything WIRELESS is handled by the Netgear R7000. Is this normal behavior?
My desktop for example can switch between wired powerline ethernet (the ISP box) and WiFi (Netgear R7000). When I am on wired connection, I can only access my ISP box gateway. I cannot "see" my R7000 at all. When I am on connected by WiFI, I can actually log in to both gateways.

This setup complicates things like port forwarding and server software like Plex because remote access only works when connected to internet via WiFi (R7000). Otherwise, my server is only visible to the home network.


My questions are:

  • Can I feasibly get this system to work and how so?
  • Is it even possible to offload all router capabilities to my R7000 via Powerline adapters?
  • Even if this is all capable, can I still keep the connection between my ISP box and the TV boxes (which currently work together right now) or is it impossible?
  • Any suggestions to improve it?
I have been recommended to sacrifice the features and quality of my R7000 (the 2nd router) in favor of running the ISP box on default settings, and having the R7000 as a simple AP.

My "ideal scenario" is that the Netgear handles everything related to internet in the home, excluding the ISP TV services which are connected to the original box in some way. If possible, still letting me access both box gateways, but doing everything related to internet like firewall, port forwarding, SSID all on the Netgear R7000.
 
Answers:
  • Yes you can. Many different ways, but it really depends on physical limits in your use case.
  • Technicall, no, since your isp router must be the default router. But you can probably get 90% of it working via a dmz in the isp router.
  • Yes, depending on how they are connected.
  • Possibly. I'll need a room layout/floorplan and the demarc of the isp combo unit as well as a list of all the equipment you've got--powerlines, routers, switches, etc.
 
Jun 3, 2020
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Answers:
  • Yes you can. Many different ways, but it really depends on physical limits in your use case.
  • Technicall, no, since your isp router must be the default router. But you can probably get 90% of it working via a dmz in the isp router.
  • Yes, depending on how they are connected.
  • Possibly. I'll need a room layout/floorplan and the demarc of the isp combo unit as well as a list of all the equipment you've got--powerlines, routers, switches, etc.
Did some digging.

First, my house is 3 levels with everything taking place on the middle main floor. My Actiontec T3200M ISP modem/router is on the extreme end of the home. It's connected to the wall via coax while its WAN port is connected to a Nokia Fiber ONT. The ONT only has 1 port active for a modem. A Netgear powerline adapter is connected to one of the LAN ports on the T3200M.

Towards the center of the main floor, a few feet, is the Netgear R7000. It's connected to the pair powerline adapter via cable to its WAN port. One of its LAN ports directly connects to the ISP TV box (which apparently requires a router with Multicast which my R7000 supposedly has), while another is used for a completely separate, independent TV box. Directly above it is a TV directly connected to a powerline adapter.
The upstairs floor features the last powerline adapter in one of the bedrooms which is connected to a standard ethernet switch. From the ethernet switch it splits off into a desktop PC and a game console.

I'm sure somewhere in the system I've simply stumbled into something that works but I know it's not a proper setup. What would be the best setup for this to work smoothly?
 
Okay, it took me a few times to visualize it, and I have ideas for sure, but first some questions.

Does the isp tv box work correctly in this current setup?

Why is the Actiontec T3200M coax plugged in? Do any other devices used coax?
 
Jun 3, 2020
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Yes, the ISP TV works just fine. I went to have a look at the connections and the ISP TV box seems to be hardwired into a small switch that goes from ethernet to coax. It's the only other device on coax.

As far as the T3200M is concerned, I'm not sure why either it or the ISP TV are wired in via coax. Just to clarify, I presume it's coax as it looks like it and is the only one I can think of commonly plugging into the wall for both internet and TV.
 
Thank you for the answers!

So it looks like you've got a moca adapter that's being used for your isp tv that allows it to connect directly to your isp router. That's why the isp router has the coax plugged in. :) This is also how your set top box is getting all its information, so you don't have to worry about connecting the tv to your netgear router. :)

So more questions then

Can you find out the model number of that box attached to the isp tv that has the coax? Also, does it have a free ethernet port?

What is your Internet plan speeds?
 
Jun 3, 2020
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Thank you for the answers!

So it looks like you've got a moca adapter that's being used for your isp tv that allows it to connect directly to your isp router. That's why the isp router has the coax plugged in. :) This is also how your set top box is getting all its information, so you don't have to worry about connecting the tv to your netgear router. :)

So more questions then

Can you find out the model number of that box attached to the isp tv that has the coax? Also, does it have a free ethernet port?

What is your Internet plan speeds?
The model number is Actiontec ECB6200 and no it does not feature more than one ethernet port.
My internet plan is 75 Mbps down, 15 Mbps up.

I also came across two articles from my ISP forums, the first of which includes a solution detailing pretty much exactly what I want to accomplish but with a powerline adapter instead of a wired ethernet cable. The only complications I see would be my continued use of Powerline adapters for the two other devices in the home that default their connection to the T3200M.

Bridging ASUS RT-AC86U to Telus Actiontec T3200M
Actiontec T3200M in bridge mode with ASUS RT-AC86U

The second link provides some background info I think might be useful. I have the T3200M in bridge mode, too.
Finally, I dug around my IP addresses and it looks like I am in a sort of Double NAT because my R7000 secondary router shows a private IP address, not a public one.
 
Thank you for the answers!

Okay, the solution is pretty simple actually, while your network is complex because you actually have 2 physical lans--one moca and one powerline. But this is actually good in your case.

So the challenge is that the netgear router needs to be in the bridge mode or dmz of the isp router. The problem is that for it to have full speed and get full speed to all the clients which are also connected via powerline, it really needs a direct connection to the isp router that is separate from the powerlines.

This is where I believe the moca can come in as there is an ethernet port at the end of the Actiontec ECB6200 that currently feeds the isp tv. I belief is that this should also give the netgear internet access in the same manner as is currently happening over the powerline link between the isp router and the netgear. By doing this, we can disconnect the isp router lan powerline and all the powerline clients (as well as wireless clients) will all run off of the netgear.
If this scenario works, all you need is a simple $20 switch to connect both the netgear and the isp tv at the location of the netgear and you're done. :)
 
Jun 3, 2020
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Thank you for the answers!

Okay, the solution is pretty simple actually, while your network is complex because you actually have 2 physical lans--one moca and one powerline. But this is actually good in your case.

So the challenge is that the netgear router needs to be in the bridge mode or dmz of the isp router. The problem is that for it to have full speed and get full speed to all the clients which are also connected via powerline, it really needs a direct connection to the isp router that is separate from the powerlines.

This is where I believe the moca can come in as there is an ethernet port at the end of the Actiontec ECB6200 that currently feeds the isp tv. I belief is that this should also give the netgear internet access in the same manner as is currently happening over the powerline link between the isp router and the netgear. By doing this, we can disconnect the isp router lan powerline and all the powerline clients (as well as wireless clients) will all run off of the netgear.
If this scenario works, all you need is a simple $20 switch to connect both the netgear and the isp tv at the location of the netgear and you're done. :)
So if I am reading this correctly, you are suggesting:

  • Purchasing an ethernet switch that connects into the moca adapter, splitting its single Ethernet to Coax into let's' say a 5-port ethernet switch.
  • Running where possible anything hardwired into the Netgear instead
In doing so I can see how it would eliminate 2/4 of the powerlines in my home because instead of the powerline feeding ISP box to Netgear, I'm using the moca instead to feed both IPTV and Netgear to directly to the ISP box (thereby keeping my TV connection effectively the same).

The questions I have then are:

  • Do you suggest I keep the T3200M in Bridge mode and leave the Netgear as is or set the T3200M back to default (router mode) and set the Netgear in bridge mode?
  • What settings should I use for either ISP box or Netgear?
  • If the T3200M is to be kept in Bridge mode, would that mean I connect it to the Netgear's LAN port instead of it's WAN port?
  • What would become of the remaining 2/4 powerline adapters I have left? I would still have 1 upstairs that I set to hardwire into an ethernet switch going into my desktop and a few game consoles (which I guess I can just go back to wireless for them thats no problem) and a powerline adapter hardwiring a TV (for TV OS apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. which is no problem reverting back to wireless)
I'm starting to see where you're getting at but I'm still a little hazy about the actual implementation because effectively I would like to avoid having what I currently have right now which is two LANS off two routers (effectively a hardwire network and a wireless network).

Thank you so much for continuing to respond! I'm so grateful.
 
You've almost got it. :)

You actually don't need to purchase the switch first. The first thing we need to try is to connect the wan of the netgear to the Actiontec ECB6200 that's currently connected to the isp tv. In theory, the netgear should get an ip address from the isp router, but I want to confirm it first. If it works, then we can get the switch and have one cable run to the isp tv and the other to the netgear wan like our test.

You actually don't have to touch your existing powerlines at all except the one at the isp router--it would need to be unplugged. The rest of the powerlines would effectively be in the 'lan' of the netgear along with all the wireless so everything would be on one network.

Answers to questions:
  • I would just leave the T3200M the way it is right now. We need to confirm that the netgear will get an IP address on its wan before we make any router changes.
  • As of right now, just leave them as-is.
  • No. When a router combo unit is in bridge mode it is simply bridging from one medium to another so that another router can route. In cases where isps have iptv setups, there's not really a true bridge mode, but it's close enough.
  • I would leave all these just as-is for now. I don't forsee any changes with these.
 
Jun 3, 2020
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You've almost got it. :)

You actually don't need to purchase the switch first. The first thing we need to try is to connect the wan of the netgear to the Actiontec ECB6200 that's currently connected to the isp tv. In theory, the netgear should get an ip address from the isp router, but I want to confirm it first. If it works, then we can get the switch and have one cable run to the isp tv and the other to the netgear wan like our test.

You actually don't have to touch your existing powerlines at all except the one at the isp router--it would need to be unplugged. The rest of the powerlines would effectively be in the 'lan' of the netgear along with all the wireless so everything would be on one network.

Answers to questions:
  • I would just leave the T3200M the way it is right now. We need to confirm that the netgear will get an IP address on its wan before we make any router changes.
  • As of right now, just leave them as-is.
  • No. When a router combo unit is in bridge mode it is simply bridging from one medium to another so that another router can route. In cases where isps have iptv setups, there's not really a true bridge mode, but it's close enough.
  • I would leave all these just as-is for now. I don't forsee any changes with these.
Thanks for the response! I tried out exactly what you did and all works well! The few changes I made were to take the T3200M out of bridge mode as it wasn't really connected to anything and I had a spare switch lying around so I used that on the moca adapter. I put.the R7000 in the DMZ of the Actiontec and I reserved an IP for the R7000 and it looks like it's fallen in the Actiontec's subnet. Everything Netgear onwards is being fed by Netgear. Thanks for the help! I think the system works better now and I still have access to both gateways regardless of connection. I appreciate all your help, thanks so much.
 

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