Q. My Verizon DSL modem-router combo doesn't offer enough Wi-Fi range. Can I replace that with a better model?
A. Yes, although Verizon doesn't make that option at all clear. Its support site is silent on the subject, and spokesman Harry Mitchell had no advice to offer on it either.
But if you're not satisfied with the reach of a Verizon-issued "gateway" — in this reader's case, an older D-Link model— and you can't persuade the company to ship you a new model, you can indeed replace it with hardware bought elsewhere.
(Yes, it could be annoying to have to spend your own money to fix a problem created by the Internet service you're already paying for. But unlike cable modems, at least DSL modems generally don't require paying a monthly rental fee that seems to escalate every year or so.)
The trick seems to be looking for one labeled as Verizon-compatible or designed for use with its DSL — starting with those listed on a Verizon DSL tech-support page. For example, an $80 Actiontec model so described has racked up a four-star average review at Amazon.
At another major DSL provider, AT&T, there's less mystery about bringing your own hardware. The company's site lists four different models you can buy directly. The company also says any other modem listed as supporting "ADSL, ADSL 2 and ADSL 2+" should work, and its tech-support site includes detailed instructions on setting up service with a third-party modem.
First, though, you should try a simpler option: moving the modem to a more central location higher up in your home. DSL should work through any phone jack in your residence, so you don't have to keep the modem where it was first installed.
Remember, however, that if the new outlet has one of the DSL filters that prevent DSL-induced interference on voice calls, you need to unplug it before plugging the modem into that jack.
Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.