Home > ISP, Small Business IT > ISP Routers and How to Bypass Them

ISP Routers and How to Bypass Them

In a recent blog post, I documented how hard it was to have my clients ISP detail the instructions to “bridge” the ISPs provided router.  Life before when ISPs started providing router hardware was so much easier.  We controlled everything on the network and the ISP provided nothing but the connection. The ISPs started to provide their own hardware to make our lives “easier”.  They could look after things for us.  What they did not tell you was that they could now access your router.  Yes, they probably aren’t going to do anything except reset your password for you when you forget it, but in principal, it’s like giving your house keys to your neighbour: all you can do is hope they don’t come into your house and poke around in your stuff, but the possibly is always there.

There are several other reasons to use your own equipment besides just keeping the ISP out, including having more control over your network traffic, configuration for specific VPN connections, parental filtering and just using overall better hardware.  Personally, I don’t want my ISP to access their equipment in my home, so I am finally going to add a new router (with the functionality and control I want) into my home network.  I require parental controls and guest network access, which are not options on my ISP-provided equipment.

In order to use your own equipment, your ISP router/modem will have to be put into what is called Bridge Mode.  Bridge Mode enables traffic to pass through without restriction, allowing the equipment you supplied to control your data to your needs.  Depending on your ISP and equipment, this may not be an obvious setting.  Some ISPs would prefer that you don’t use equipment other than theirs.  Refer to the user manual or contact your ISP for assistance on how to do this.

My ISP-supplied router has a setting which easily allows me to turn on Bridge Mode.  This may not be the case with your equipment.  If you are unsure of how to change from Router to Bridge, contact your ISP or IT Professional.  If Rogers is your ISP, I have documented how to change to Bridge Mode in this article.

Bell Cisco Bridge

Enabling Bridge Mode allows all traffic to pass seamlessly to my router and I can fully control how it is handled.

Typical network layout for 2 routers. This could apply to your home or small office.

Don’t get me wrong, using the equipment supplied by your ISP is fine for your home and office, as long as you take some precautions:

  1. Change the router username and password
  2. Disable all unnecessary services and ports
  3. Change the Wi-Fi username and password
  4. Ensure the Wi-Fi encryption setting is set to at least WPA.

For more information on router security please see the article How to Secure your Router.

Also be aware that most ISPs will not support your connection if you are not using their hardware.  If you do require assistance you may need to set your router back to its original settings.  Also note that if your router is reset, all your settings will have to be re-configured.  It’s a good idea to either backup your settings (if possible) or write the settings down.

Enjoy taking control of your data and knowing you have made it one step harder for someone to access your network.

As with any changes on your network, please use best practises to safeguard your data. If you are unsure of how to secure your equipment, please contact your qualified IT Professional for assistance.

  1. Dan
    08/27/2012 at 10:53 am

    Both of these guides worked perfectly! Thank you for posting.

  2. 12/20/2013 at 12:32 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I’m in the backwoods of Toronto. North Etobicoke. We’ve had 400k DSL service for a few years. Had Bell internet unplugged for a long while. That got us up to 1.2 meg. (Heavenly) When they discontinued that, we moved to a Rogers Turbo Hub. Currently enjoying 25-30 meg speeds. NOT enjoying the cap of 30 Gig.

    Just found out today that Bell has finally fired up the stinger down at the end of the road. It’s been there for about 9 months, teasing me. Now I am trying to find out if their hub will go into bridge mode, so that I can connect it to my Snapgear 560. That’s how I ended up here. 😉

    Thanks for the post, and Merry Christmas.

    • 01/01/2014 at 10:19 pm

      Hi and Happy New Year!

      Thanks for the kind words. 30 GB cap…wow. Good luck with the new services. If you need a hand please let me know. I do apologize for my tardy response.

      Sharon

  3. Mike
    01/16/2014 at 11:47 am

    Hi Sharon,

    I have the bell fibre optic connection for my internet and cable. the fibre optic connection goes to the bell provided sagecom 2864 router. If I bridge this router, will it disrupt my cable/tv connection? (the cable box for the tv is currently connected via cat 5 from the bell provided router)

    Thank you,

    Mike

  4. 09/10/2014 at 1:38 pm

    Hi Sharon, great post. I am looking at adding a VPN rounter to my small office network. Bell is my ISP, and they charge $27.50 per month to acquire the necessary static IP address for my existing Bell modem/router. I’m trying to keep my costs down. Are you aware of a more economical solution? Currently, I’m paying Bell the following monthly charges:

    $11 Modem/Router rental
    $10 Phone line access (without phone)
    $57.50 Business internet access

    • 09/11/2014 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Blair,

      Sorry for my late reply. I don’t think you are going to much more economical than what you already have. I haven’t looked at the cost of static IP for some time but that sounds about right. Have you looked into DynDNS? It may be an option.
      Sharon

      • 09/11/2014 at 10:29 pm

        Hi Sharon, your response time is just fine. I did manage to find a “local” ISP who will offer the static IP for $5 per month. I think I will be making the move away from Ma Bell. What is DynDNS?

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