I kind of figured that was just the battery and the ONT is in the outside junction box.
I've made some progress. For the time being, I didn't turn the actiontec into a bridge. left it intact and willultimately just turn off the wireless from it.
Got the ASUS running!! It is on the middle floor, via ethernet. We finally got it to work, after some back and forth with ASUS settings ... one person said it had to be an access poiint. What I ultimately found out is it could be a wireless router, plug in through the WAN port, have its own subnet but everything off it would be accessible because it is connected to the actiontec LAN. Make sense? Apparently, what isn't supported, despite other sites and verizon, is making the asus on the same subnet as the actiontec. I don't know that I'll have outside access across the internet to it remotely in this configuration. I'll test that later. If not, I'll stick it in the basement, bridge it, and get an AC access point for the middle or upper floor.
Now, my only issue is getting a windows 8 laptop on the asus wifi. keeps saying i'm connected and have internet access. but pages don't load, or load slowly, and it says "windows could not automatically detect this networks proxy settings".