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This page last modified: Jan 19 2006
title:Actiontec Dual PC external narrowband 56K modem is an ethernet router
description:The Actiontec Dual PC modem is really an ethernet router with a built-in 56K modem.

The Actiontec Dual PC Modem 56K is amazing and every Linux user who
needs a dialup 56K (aka narrowband) modem should have one of these
(assuming you have an ethernet port, and nowadays, everyone has an
ethernet port, right?). This product is really a two port ethernet
router/hub with a built-in hardware modem. It runs a microkernel linux
internally! You could think of the Actiontec as a modem with an
ethernet port instead of a serial or USB port.

The modem is so simple to set up that I didn't read the instructions,
and had it working in 5 minutes. Set your machine to do DHCP. Plug
into the modem and start your computer and the modem. The modem is
also a DHCP server, and will assign an IP address to your computer. 

Launch a web browser, and go to which is the
address of the modem. At this point you have a really small local area
network (LAN) consisting of the modem and your computer.

The Actiontec Dual PC modem is also a web server. You'll get a nice
web page with obvious options like "Setup" and "Status". Go to set up
and put in your ISPs phone number, your account name, and your
password. The modem remembers all these settings. 

Next go to the Status page. Click connect. It dials, and now you're

In two trials here (over a voice line that's also line-sharing with
DSL) I got 42400 and 44000 connection rates. That's what I used to get
from a "dedicated" modem. My friend (whom I set this up for) reports
speeds from 42000 to 46000. Maybe at some point I'll measure the
actual Kbytes per second throughput.

For Windows users, there is a potential issue: this modem won't
connect to services with proprietary connection software (AOL, Juno,
etc.) It works fine with all the normal, standards compliant ISPs
(using PPP and PAP).  The Actiontec site has a very long list of ISPs
and how to connect. Of course, Linux users don't care because (AFAIK)
we can't connect to AOL or Juno anyway.

Price of the modem is a little high: $60 versus around $30 for a
reasonable priced internal PCI or PCMCIA hardware modem. However, the
Actiontec Dual PC is far more useful, and far easier to work with. 

I didn't delve into its abilities to see if it is capable of static IP
addresses, e.g. allowing servers to connect via modem. It might be a
cool feature for a server to be able to call your cell phone and beep
at you as a way of signaling status. Since the Actiontec dialing is
http based, you should be able to dial via wget (I haven't tried this,
but I'm certain it will work). I'm also uncertain if it has
auto-answer mode, and what it would do. I didn't explore the "router"
capabilities, so I don't know if it runs a firewall (e.g. iptables)
and if it has capabilities like NAT and masquerading.

Modem is supplied with:
2 each 6 foot ethernet cables
1 each RJ11 phone cable
1 each power supply

Click the small image below to buy at Amazon (better price than most places)

Photos I took:

Actiontec Dual PC Modem and ethernet router, front view, 1024x768 142Kb

Actiontec Dual PC Modem, showing
ethernet (RJ45) and phone ports, rear view, 1024x768 120Kb