How to configure (set up) an Apple Time Capsule to a AT&T 2Wire (2701HG-B) modem/router

I know that this has NOTHING to do with politics, economics, social issues or any other subject I normally talk about; but I had SO much trouble getting my Apple Time Capsule to work with my AT&T 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem, that I wanted to post how to do it. When I tried to find instructions online, I couldn’t find any and it took me HOURS of time on the phone with AT&T tech support and Apple Tech support to get it done! Neither company was much help until I raised enough ‘cain’ to get the attention of a supervisor- both companies’ tech support departments tried to ‘pass the buck’ to the other company and that didn’t get me anywhere.

I’ll bet there are some other pretty frustrated AT&T DSL customers out their, like me, that were all excited to get their Time Capsule’s up and running; only to get home and find out that they ‘bit off’ more than they anticipated! So, I thought I’d post how we did it in layman’s terms – from one layman to another! This is the part of the configuration process that Apple won’t help you with because they don’t offer “3rd party” support. Since I’m not a “techie” I can’t guarantee this will work for you, and I’m not responsible if it doesn’t, but this is what worked for me – I hope it’ll help you!

Before we get started, though, I want to let you know that the EASIEST way to set up your Time Capsule, if you have a AT&T 2Wire 2701HG-B modem/wireless router is to GET RID OF THE 2Wire unit!  You can buy a AT&T compatible stand-alone DSL modem that’s basically a plug & play solution without having to go through all these steps!  But, if you’re like me, I don’t want to spend the money if I don’t have to!  So, I went through the trouble to get this all figured out.  Plus, I live 1.5 hours from the nearest “Best Buy” and I wanted my internet working TODAY! The decision is yours to make.

OK, here goes…

First of all, you need to understand that in order to connect your Time Capsule to AT&T’s (pain-in-the-rear) 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem combo, you must disable both the “wireless” and the “router” functions within the 2Wire unit. Apparently, you can’t have two wireless routers connected because they ‘fight’ with each other over connecting to the internet- a battle which neither will win unless you disable one. The Apple Time Capsule is a FAR better wireless router than the 2Wire, so if one of the two has to go, it should be the 2Wire!

Before you make these changes to your router, you will need to call AT&T and get your “Network Password” from them and make sure you know your network username – it’s usually the default email address that AT&T gave you for free when you originally set up your account- something like, “johndoe@att.net” If they give you ANY flack about getting your “Network Password,” tell them that you are disabling both the router and the wireless functions in your 2Wire 2701HG-B and that you will need the AT&T Network Password to configure your Time Capsule!  Your Network Password is usually 3 letters followed by 3 numbers and it’s set by AT&T, not you!  Knowing this will make you sound like you know what you are doing, LOL!

Also, as a note, I already had my computer (MacBook Pro) configured with my Time Capsule to the extent that my computer could ‘see’ the Time Capsule already- I just couldn’t connect to the internet because the 2Wire wouldn’t let the internet pass through to the Time Capsule. These instructions are how to resolve this conflict between the 2Wire 2701HG-B and the Apple Time Capsule.  Even though I had this finished before I resolved this conflict, you can follow the instructions below first, and then walk through the Time Capsule wizard/instructions to set it up. However, IF you choose to do this, you will still need to go into the Time Capsule’s “Manual Setup” to make the appropriate setting changes listed in steps 8 – 10 below.  Either way leads you to the same thing – internet access and joy at owning the best wireless router and backup drive on the market – the Apple Time Capsule!

Here goes…..

Step 1. Log into your 2Wire router by connecting an “ethernet” cable from one of the 4 ports (hint: don’t use the port furthest from the phone line jack) on the back the 2Wire 27101HG-B router to the ethernet port on your computer. Then check to make sure you can connect to the internet using this “wired” connection to the router. You will probably need to disable the wireless feature on your computer so that it’s using the ethernet connection to connect to the 2Wire modem/router and the internet.  To do this on a Mac, you can go to Airport icon at the top right of your screen, click on it and select “Turn Airport Off.” If you can access the intenet, then open up a browser window and enter the following digital address into your browser’s address bar: 192.168.1.254 and hit “enter” on the keyboard. This should bring up the “splash page” (also called the control panel) for the router.Note: you may need to enter a password to actually access this page- this is NOT the same password as your “Network Password” – it’s one you set up when you originally got your 2Wire modem/router! If you don’t remember it, call AT&T tech support and get them to help you reset your modem so that you can create a new password and re-set-up the modem – it’s not hard.

Step 2. Click on the “Home Network” icon at the top of the page – it’s the 3rd image to the left of the AT&T logo!

Step 3. Once the “Home Network” page loads, look at the “Status At A Glance” box on the right hand side of the page and, below that it says, “Home Network” in red. Below this you’ll see the word “Wireless” and a button to the right of “Wireless” that says “Disable”. Note: in the screen shot to the right, you’ll see a button for “Enable” because I’ve already disabled the wireless function on my router. If YOU see the button for “Disable,” CLICK IT!  Once you do, you should see the “Enable” button appear (like in my screen shot) and that’s what you want – the 2Wire is no longer sending out a wireless signal!

Step 4. Next, type he following address into your browser’s address bar: 192.168.1.254/mdc and hit the ‘enter’ key.  This will bring up the “Management and Diagnostic Control” page. *See screen shot to the right* You will most likely need to re-enter your 2Wire password – again, not the same one as your “Network Password!”

Step 5. Click on the “Configure” link on the left-hand side of the page – it’s the last link under the heading, “Broadband Link” near the top of the list. The configure page should load and look like this:

Step 6. You now need to change some of these settings. You can see the proper settings in the screen shot below, but here’s a list

  • VPI: Should be set at 0 (if it isn’t already!)
  • VCI: Should be 35
  • ATM Encapsulation: should be “Bridged LLC
  • ATM PVC Search: should be “Disabled
  • Broadband Connection: should be “Enabled
  • Connection Type: should be “Direct IP (DHCP or Static)”
  • Type in your username, and “Network Password” (that you should have gotten from AT&T before you started!) and confirm the password.  This is the first of 2 times you will need this “Network Password” in the process of setting up your Time Capsule with a 2Wire 2701HG-B router/modem.
  • The rest of the settings on the page should be left alone – let them stay as they are by default.
Scroll down and click  SUBMIT or ‘save settings’ – or whatever the button says (I forget the exact wording) to make the changes you made take effect.

Step 7. Now navigate your way to the “Configure Services” page – look near the bottom of the list on the left hand side of the Management & Diagnostics Console pages you’ve been on for the last couple of steps.  It’s under the heading (in black type) of “Advanced.”  Click this link and wait until the page opens.  Once the page opens, you should see a page that looks like the screenshot to the right and has a heading (in bold black type), “Advanced – Configure Services” and (most likely) there will be a blue ‘check’ mark in the “Enable Routing” box – I circled the box in neon green in the screenshot. This box needs to be UN-checked – in other words, there should NOT be a check in the box!  If there is a check in the box, then your 2Wire will work as a router and we DON’T want that!  Once the box is unchecked (empty, like in the screenshot) click “Submit.”

NOTE:  At this point, if you look at the lights on your 2Wire modem, you should see that the “wireless” light and the “internet” light have gone out.  Don’t worry – this is what you want!  it means that your 2Wire 2701HG-B is now functioning in “bridged” mode and is basically nothing more than a DSL modem. Period.  It’s no longer a wireless router – unless you decide to press the rest button on the back to return it to its default settings!

Step 8. Make sure that your Time Capsule is connected to your 2Wire with a ethernet cable running from the 4th ethernet port (the one furthest from the phone/DSL line port/connection) to the WAN port on the back of the Time Capsule.  It was recommended to me that the 4th port on the 2Wire unit works better- for some mysterious reason!

Note: At this point, you are likely to have a blinking yellow light on the front of your Time Capsule. This means that the Time Capsule still cant reach the internet.  But not to worry- that’s soon to change to green!

Step 9. Turn your wireless capability on your computer back on – On a Mac, that means going to the  “airport” icon at the top right of your screen and select “turn airport on” from the drop-down menu. Then, open your Airport Utility: go to “Spotlight” (the little magnifying glass in the top right corner of your computer screen) and type “airport” and click on “Airport Utility.” 

Step 10. Once the Airport Utility application opens up, click the “Internet” icon at the top of the page (see screen shot below – I circled the “internet icon” in neon green) and make sure that the “Internet Connection” tab is selected or, in other words, is highlighted in blue. Then make the following changes:

  • Connect Using: PPPoE – from the drop-down menu
  • Account Name: Enter your AT&T username (discussed earlier)
  • Password: Enter your AT&T “Network Password” (discussed earlier)
  • Verify Password: Re-enter your AT&T “Network Password”
  • Click “Apply!”
If the light on the front of your Time Capsule is green now, you are ready to go – try an internet search!  If it ISN’T green yet, disconnect the power to your 2Wire modem, the Time Capsule and shut down your computer. Then:
  1. Reconnect the power supply to the 2 Wire modem and wait until it has a chance to fully start up. 2-3 minutes.
  2. Then reconnect the power to your Apple Time Capsule and wait until the light turns green on the front of the unit.
  3. Re-start your computer and, if you followed these instructions, you should be able to surf the internet!  Enjoy!
I hope these instructions help someone! I tried to make them as dummy-proof because that’s what I need!  I’m no computer expert and I don’t really understand what all this means, but I know it worked and I’m posting this through my Apple Time Capsule, my 2Wire 2701HG-B and my AT&T DSL line!
If nothing else, these instructions will give you what you need to demand help from an Apple or AT&T tech support person- if you spend enough time with either department on the phone, you WILL find someone that can help you with this.  I just hope this helps YOU avoid those hours I spent on the phone to get these steps figured out!
Now, back to our regularly-scheduled socio-political commentary!  Please excuse this diversion.
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20 Responses to “How to configure (set up) an Apple Time Capsule to a AT&T 2Wire (2701HG-B) modem/router”

  1. Great post. I will read your posts frequently. Added you to the RSS reader.

  2. Fantastic post. Worked perfectly.

  3. Excellent post.

    I have also same AT&T2Wire modem/router but I did connect my TC to AT&T2Wire wirelessly. But to connect TC successfully I have to disable AT&T2Wire’s wireless security so by doing that my wireless network is password less ☹
    And whenever I try to enable wireless security so my TC is not available may be some authentication type is not compatible with each other.
    Do you have any idea how to solve it? I want to connect my TC to my AT&T2Wire wirelessly with password.

  4. Excellent post

  5. You ROCK!!!!!!
    I solved a ton of mistakes that were performed by the ATT reps. My internet connection would drop every 5 minutes or so. Now I am cool!! Thanks a bunch!

  6. I use U-verse for TV and internet connections. I too have since changed to the Time Capsule. As you said, the two router/modems seem to fight to see which system will be used for your MacBook, iPad, or iPhone when I return to my house. I would also like to eliminate the functions of the 2-wire unit but I must keep it because it provides the service to my TV . Your step by step instructions are very well written and easy to follow because I also have wondered how do you turn off this 2-wire unit without throwing a wrench into my TV service.
    I have a 2-wire 3800HGV, iPad, iPhone and MacBook Pro. If you think I can use your instructions, I’d be willing to try. My question is do you think these instructions apply to all 2-wire units.

    • I’m not a computer expert so I can’t advise you whether my instructions will work on a different unit. My suspicion is that they will, but that’s no more than a semi-educated guess. Sorry I can’t be more encouraging.

      Best of luck!

  7. Thank you for this post!!

  8. Incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  9. Dude, you rock!!! I’ve been struggling with this for about 4 hours after a power outage and AT&T had me reset my 2Wire . . . loosing all my settings. You saved me. Many Thanx!!!

  10. Brendan Hayes Says:

    Wow! I lost our connection after a power outage goofed up my 2Wire settings. I have searched high and low on the net. I spoke to AT&T. They got my 2Wire up and going but would go no further.
    Apple support got me somewhat setup but not all the way.
    DSLreports had a good description but the VPI/VCI setting were different.
    Today I stumbled upon the your insightful article. As soon as I got home I sat down and followed your guide. Success after three days of running bamboo slivers under my nails.
    Thanks so much. I shared your link with some of the Apple discussions on the subject so you may be hearing from more folks.

  11. The Ganja Monster Says:

    Awesome post, thanks for the help!

  12. Thanks for the article. AT&T wanted to charge me a one-time fee of $50 for this info or a monthly technical service fee of $15/month. It has worked for me!

  13. You are now my personal hero. A couple of slight revisions: Under step 6, I found that Connection Type: should be PPPoE. Also, I found that it was necessary to connect my laptop to the time capsule via the Ethernet to finish the setup.

  14. jeff.kyle@hotmail.com Says:

    Awesome! I’m connected! Thanks a million!

  15. Thanks for the great info! ATT would not give me the network passcode without charging me, but I was able to get an att technician to convert their normal dsl line from the main att box on the outside of the house that normally runs to the 2wire wireless router/modem into ethernet so I don’t have to use their 2 wire device at all. I just plugged their ethernet line into the apple time capsule and changed the “router mode” in airport utility for the time capsule to “off(bridge mode)” instead of “DHCP and NAT” and it all started working :-)!

  16. Awesome! Thanks for sharing very helpful information!!

    Just to share the pitfall I had, in Step 10, I typed “AT&T” in “Service Name” (Optional field) thinking it would be useful memo for myself. But that field should have been kept blank otherwise the internet connection was not established.

  17. I managed to do this today but the settings page on the AT&T device look different now (March 2013) – I did not have to change any of the settings – just disabling wireless on the AT&T router did the job.

    The timecapsule HAD to be setup CREATING a network before so you can reach it once wireless is disabled on 2Wire

  18. Seth Christian Says:

    Wow, thank you so much as I was just about to go through the exact same experience today. Glad I did a search and found your post before starting!

  19. Good day! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up
    for the nice information you may have here on this post.
    I might be coming back to your weblog for extra soon.

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