What to do when your modem's lights look odd

The lights on your modem don't look right, and you seem to be having problems with your Internet connection. To troubleshoot what's going on, you need to know what the lights are supposed to look like and what they're telling you if they look different.

What your lights should look like

When your modem and Internet service are working correctly, the lights on your modem look like this:

  • Power light -- solid green
  • DSL light -- solid green
  • Internet light -- solid or blinking green
  • Ethernet light -- blinking green, if you're connected by an Ethernet cable
  • Wireless light -- blinking green, if you're using wireless

If the lights on your modem don't look like this, it's helpful to understand why.

What it means if your lights look different

Your modem lights tell you a lot about your modem. Fortunately, there are only 5 lights that you need to care about. Depending what's going on, they'll be solid, slow blinking, fast blinking, green, amber (yellowish-orange), red or not lit up.

POWER light

Of course, this is a particularly important light. It tells you power is getting to your modem. It should be solid green. If it's amber (yellowish-orange), flashing, red or not lit up at all, your modem needs attention. There could be a problem with the wall outlet, power cord or the modem itself.

Troubleshooting your modem's power light

DSL (or LINE) light

The DSL light lets you know your modem has located the CenturyLink network.

If you've recently unplugged your modem, turned it OFF and/or lost power to your home, your modem will need to re-establish a connection to our network. The DSL light shows you that it's doing this by first blinking slowly and then blinking faster. When it fully re-establishes the connection, it turns solid green.

If the modem does not find the CenturyLink network, the DSL light will turn RED. This can be caused by bad wiring or the modem being plugged into the wrong jack.

Troubleshooting your modem's DSL light

INTERNET (INT) light

This light lets you know your modem has found the Internet. It should be green, either solid or flickering.

If it's amber (yellowish-orange), red or not lit up at all, it may need attention. You may have lost connection due to a power outage, or other circumstance. Your modem could be running through its activation sequence and/or be in the process of rebooting itself. For the most part, these scenarios are temporary and should resolve on their own. However, if they don't, there are things you can do.

Troubleshooting your modem's Internet light

ETHERNET light

This light only comes on when you plug an Ethernet cable into the back of your modem and connect a computer (or other device). In that case, the light will be solid green (ready) or flickering green (transmitting data). If it isn't, there's no connection between your modem and computer.

Understanding your modem's Ethernet light

WIRELESS light

When your modem's wireless is ON and working, this light blinks green. If it's only green (and not blinking), it means your wireless is ON but not sending data. If it's not lit up at all, your wireless is OFF.

Turning on your modem's wireless light


Common modem setup mistakes

Sometimes the lights on your modem look odd because your modem isn't set up quite right. Using a DSL filter on the modem line and/or connecting the phone cord to the wrong port are a couple of common mistakes. (Double check your modem is setup correctly.)

DSL filters

Check the DSL line connecting your modem to the wall jack. It shouldn't have a DSL filter on it. If it does, remove it.

DSL filters split the signal coming into your home between your phone and Internet. They're important, and you've probably been told to put DSL filters on all devices in your home that connect to your phone line. That's true. EXCEPT for your modem.

If you install a filter on the modem, you're stopping the DSL signal from traveling to the modem (which you don't want to do). Conversely, if you have a phone and do not install a filter, the DSL signal will interfere with your phone, causing noise and/or making your phone unusable.

Modem ports

Be sure to plug the phone cord -- which is coming from the wall jack -- into the port on the back of your modem labeled, DSL (or LINE). DO NOT plug it into the port labeled, PHONE. That port is filtered and is meant for connecting your telephone to your modem.