Are the "US", the "DS", and the "Online" indicator lights lit steadily ?
And the modem needs to be power-cycled each and every time that you change the device that is being connected to it.
He said that it's normal for surfboard modem to not connect directly to a laptop.
Eh no. But every time you plug a device into the modem, you must power cycle the modem. EG is asking what the lights are doing so we know if the modem is actually on-line or if there is some other issue.