Set Up PPPoE Internet Access on Home Networks

Linksys WRT54GS PPPoE Setup
Bradley Mitchell

Some Internet Service Providers use Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet to manage the connections of individual subscribers.

How PPPoE Works

PPPoE Internet providers assign each of their subscribers a unique PPPoE username and password. Providers use this network protocol to manage IP address allocations and track each customer's data usage.

The protocol works on either a broadband router or a broadband modem.

The home network initiates an Internet connection request, sends PPPoE usernames and passwords to the Internet provider, and receives a public IP address in return.

PPPoE uses a protocol technique called tunneling -- the embedding of messages in one format within the packets of another format.  PPPoE functions similarly to virtual private networking tunneling protocols like Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.

Does Your Internet Service Use PPPoE?

Many but not all DSL Internet providers use PPPoE. Cable and fiber Internet providers do not use it. Providers of other types of Internet service such as fixed wireless Internet may or may not use it. Ultimately, customers must check with their service provider to confirm whether they use PPPoE.

PPPoE Router and Modem Configuration

All mainstream broadband routers support PPPoE as an Internet connection mode. The steps needed to set up a router for this protocol vary depending on the device's model.

In the Setup or Internet menus, select "PPPoE" as the connection type and enter the required parameters in the fields provided: PPPoE username, password and (sometimes) Maximum Transmission Unit size.

Follow these instructions for some common wireless router brands:

Internet providers may alternatively supply their customers a broadband modem with the necessary PPPoE support already configured.

Because the protocol was originally designed for intermittent connectivity such as with dialup-networking connections, broadband routers also support a "keep alive" feature that manipulates PPPoE connections to ensure "always on" Internet access. Without keep-alive, home networks would automatically lose their Internet connections.

Problems With PPPoE

PPPoE connections may require special MTU settings to function properly. Providers will tell their customers if their network requires a special MTU value -- numbers like 1492 (the maximum PPPoE supports) or 1480 are common. Home routers support an option to set the MTU size manually when needed.

A home network administrator can accidentally erase PPPoE settings. Because of the risk of error in home networking configurations, some ISPs have moved away from PPPoE in favor of DHCP- based customer IP address assignment.