Our best ideas always start with you, our readers and customers. One recently sent us a question that we receive pretty frequently. So we figured we’d publish the latest in our series of popular FlashRouter FAQs.
Open Source Firmware on DSL Modem Routers
I have a DSL modem from my ISP. Can I flash my DSL modem/router with DD-WRT so I can use VPN on it?
– Chip in Chattanooga, TN
Thanks for the question Chip! The simple answer is no. DD-WRT firmware is not compatible with DSL, VDSL or ADSL modem combinations.
A common issue for many users looking to integrate DD-WRT or Tomato within their setup is the fact that modems and modem routers cannot be flashed with Open Source firmware. As these devices do not use Broadcom or Atheros chips and the drivers for these products have not been made public or released to open source development teams, modem routers simply have not developed with and cannot be flashed with alternative/non-ISP firmware.
There are two major reasons we see this as the case.
1. DSL Modem/Routers Are Usually Outdated, Cheap Throw Ins – Usually DSL modem router combo devices are offered with outdated technology to minimize bandwidth use which cost providers more. So basically, the more powerful the router, the more bandwidth you will use. Therefore, they offer you a free device that gives you just enough to keep you somewhat happy without maximizing the capabilities of your network.
Even the best DSL modem router, being a combination of a modem and a router, is a less powerful device when compared to a standalone router or FlashRouter, as the specs of the device need to be lessened to host an actual modem.
They usually force you to rent this underpowered device which also adds to their profits. Generally, the router part of these modems are basic single band wireless-N devices with a 300-400 MHz processor with max wireless transmission at 300 Mbps with older generation fast Ethernet ports. If you upgrade to a higher plan, they might throw you a bone and double that wireless speed to up to 600 Mbps transmission power with average range.
You will not see a Wireless-AC device with max range for transmitting streaming video signal through you home or 1 GHz processors of up to 2400 Mbps. We are talking a minimum of 3-4 times as powerful devices when it comes to standalone Wireless-AC DD-WRT options.
2. ISPs Want To See Your Traffic Usage & Data – The average customer just wants their router to work so an ISP has limited impetus for improved, enterprise level firmwares.
Open-source firmwares are developed to be used on standalone routers and the modems complicate the firmware part. Plus these modem routers are usually an under-powered combination.
Using VPN with a DSL modem router combo network-wide is not a built-in option that most ISPs do or will ever offer. ISPs are in the business of monitoring and managing traffic so to offer built-in protection for privacy protocols like VPN is antithetical to their business model, meaning it will not make them money.
Using VPN with a DSL Modem Router
The best option for users having this dilemma is to use a VPN FlashRouter in tandem their DSL modem/router combination. Add a DD-WRT or TomatoUSB behind it to router and manage your traffic as your main network gateway using the FlashRouters Dual Router Setup.
Within a Dual Router Setup, the modem router maintains a connection to your ISP, passing that connectivity to a DD-WRT or Tomato FlashRouter alongside it, creating a second network more powerful network with limited setup or frustration. If you choose to use your FlashRouter as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) router with a service like IPVanish, your second network will be a VPN-dedicated device network so you can add any devices connected to the network will be encrypted by a VPN.
Most Popular/Best DSL Modem Router Combos By Region
As the world is covered by a diverse list of Internet Service Providers, there are many modem routers that may have found their way into your home, such as the:
- Telmex, Prodigy (Mexico, Brazil, and the rest of Latin America)
- Movistar, Jazztel (Spain and Latin America)
- Orange (UK, France, Kenya, Poland, Switzerland, etc.)
- Virgin Media, Sky (UK)
- Foxtel, Telestra, Optus (Australia)
- FRITZ!Box, Deutsche Telekom (Germany)
- Etisalat, Oger Telecom (Middle East)
- Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, Optimum, Spectrum (United States)
- KT, CJ HelloVision (Korea)
- Rogers Cable, Shaw, Telus (Canada)
- Cablecom, DFI (Switzerland)
- Sahara Net, Saudi Net (Saudi Arabia)
- Asahi Net, NTT EAST (Japan)
- …and any other DSL/Cable/Fiber-Optic modem router from any provider around the world!
A FlashRouter can work alongside any of the these popular ISP’s and their modem/router combinations. The process is as simple as connecting a FlashRouter to a modem router via Ethernet cable. Once this connection is established, you have will have two networks, one for your ISP and one, if you so choose, for your VPN connection.
If you are using a modem router from any provider, we can support it. Want to be sure? Contact our networking specialists and we can look into it and add it to this list for other potential users.
DD-WRT Router To Use VPN with a DSL Modem Router Combo
Whether you are a Telmex customer in Brazil, a FusionGOL subscriber in Japan, or a Comcast user in the United States, a FlashRouter will comfortably slip right into your setup behind a modem router combo. Here’s just a few of our enhanced router favorites FlashRouters ready to overhaul your DSL, ADSL, or VDSL network connection!
- Netgear R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT – The R7000 Nighthawk comes complete with a 1 GHz processor and 3 external antenna and is our favorite networking superhero!
- Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT – Our best-ranked and highest performing router is the RT-AC5300 with 8 powerful external antennae. Adding these antennae to this powerhouse 1.4 GHz processor, you will not only receive great range but a powerful performance allowing for high-quality streaming, lag-free gaming, and a strong connection to your VPN provider, be it ExpressVPN, IPVanish, or countless other FlashRouters supported VPN providers.
- Linksys WRT1900ACS/AC V2 DD-WRT – A nice Linksys alternative with high end processing and great WiFi range thanks to its 4 external antennas. A great value!
- Asus RT-AC56U DD-WRT – If you are looking for a router that is a little less powerful but with comparable specs to the most powerful routers, the AC1200 is a fantastic choice for a mid-range processor, packing a competitive 800 MHz processor that is comparable to routers almost twice its price.If you are interested in a completely wired setup, this is a great choice. While the AC56U lacks external antennae and cannot offer the same wide-reaching wireless range as those that do, in terms of processing power alone, it surely is a high performing VPN ready device.
Need more info? Don’t hesitate to shoot us a message and our team will be more than happy to walk you through the process.