How to Hook Up Your Internet

Brianne Sandorf
Jan 17, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

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It’s time for a new internet service, but there’s one problem. How do you set it up?

In this guide, we explain how to connect your modem, set up your router, test and troubleshoot your internet connection, and connect to your wireless network.

Ready? Let's get started.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, here’s a quick snapshot of what to do:

1. Sign up for an internet plan

If you don’t yet have an internet plan, you first need to get one. This is, of course, the most important step! You want to pick an internet provider that gives you a reliable Wi-Fi connection and adequate speeds to cover your daily activities—whether that’s making work calls over Zoom, attending online classes, streaming movies in 4K, or even just checking email.

Not sure what internet is best for you? Run a search with your zip code below to see what’s available in your area.

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When you sign up for an internet plan, most internet providers give you the option of setting up your internet yourself. You get a self-install kit sent in the mail, which includes all the equipment and wiring you need to get your Wi-Fi up and running.

Self installation is usually the best way to go because it costs less than professional installation and takes less time to arrange. Once your self-install kit arrives in the mail, pull it out and make sure you have everything you need. Download your internet provider’s installation app and pick out a good place in your home to place your modem and router.

2. Connect your modem

Your modem links your home network to your provider’s network, so it’s the first thing you want to hook up when you’re setting up your internet.

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Fiber internet doesn’t need a modem, but it does require a router. Skip this step and jump to the next section on routers if you have a fiber setup.

graphic of how a modem plugs into a power outlet, phone jack, cable jack, and computer

To set up your modem (or gateway), plug it into the wall and connect it to your phone jack or cable outlet—depending on the internet you have.

  • DSL internet plugs into a phone jack with a phone cord.
  • Cable internet plugs into a cable outlet with a coaxial cable.

The front of the modem should have a series of LED indicator lights—take a look to see if they’re on to confirm that the modem is working and connected.

Your modem should come with an Ethernet cable, but if it doesn’t, any old Ethernet cable you have on hand will do. You can plug the Ethernet cable directly into your computer if you want.

But for a standalone modem that doesn’t have a router included, it’s better to connect to a separate router so that you can connect more devices.

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Internet providers typically offer customers a gateway device that combines the modem and router, but you can also buy your own modem and router separately. If you’re using your own modem, you may need to register your modem’s MAC address to connect you to the internet. The MAC address should be listed on a label attached to your modem.

3. Connect your router

Now you can set up your router.

A graphic shows how you would plug your cable modem into a router

You need a router to connect multiple devices to the internet through a wired or wireless connection. Usually you can rent a router from your internet provider, but if you buy your own, you can save money and be more choosy about Wi-Fi capabilities, security, and other features.

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Light Bulb

Don’t have a router? Take a look at our guide to the best wireless routers.

Aim to set up your router next to your modem. Place your router in a centralized location in your home, where the Wi-Fi signal has a better chance of reaching into different rooms and connecting to all of your devices. Keep the router out of closets or back rooms and away from large appliances or objects that could block the signal.

Plug in the router and connect it to your modem with an Ethernet cable. Check the LED lights on the front of the device to confirm that it’s working.

4. Set up your network

Do you have a tried-and-true internet connection? Then it’s time to set up your modem and network. You can follow the instructions on your internet provider’s installation app.

That’s the easiest way to do it, but you can also type the modem’s IP address manually into your URL bar. Common modem admin IP addresses include 192.168.0.1 and 192.168.1.1. You can usually find yours on the back of the modem.

How to set your Wi-Fi password

Your modem’s default username and password are likely set to “admin” or something similar.

Hackers can easily access your modem and internet connection by using the default username and password combos. So make sure you pick a unique network name and a strong password. While you’re at it, set your security protocol to WPA2, WPA/WPA2, or WPA-AES—the three most secure options.

After setting up your Wi-Fi network password, note it somewhere secure so you can easily remember it when connecting to other devices.

How to rename your network

When you name your network—also known as a service set identifier (SSID)—choose one that you can easily identify.

Here are some tips for picking a strong SSID:

  1. Don’t identify yourself in your SSID—avoid names, addresses, and companies to make it harder for hackers to target you.
  2. Avoid special characters (like dashes, periods, ampersands, etc.) if you can. And avoid the pipe character (a vertical line: | ) at all costs! These can cause issues when you try to connect to your network.
  3. SSIDs are case sensitive, so RoutersofRohan is different than routersofrohan.

5. Test your internet connection

Once your modem and router are booted up, it’s time to test your internet connection. Using your provider’s installation app, follow the instructions to make sure that the internet is activated.

From there, open your web browser and head to Google or another search engine. If the web page loads, congrats. You’ve got an internet connection.

What if you don’t have an internet connection?

Did your web page not load? Don’t panic; there are a few more steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Try loading a different website or using a different device. If a different website loads, it could be that the first website you tried is down. If a different device connects to the internet just fine, the problem might be with the first device you tried to connect.
  • Restart your computer. Once your computer’s done rebooting, test your internet connection again.
  • Check your cable connections. Ensure the coax cable or phone cable, Ethernet cables, and power cord are securely plugged in and attached to your modem and router or computer.
  • Make sure you connect to the right network. If your computer tries to connect to an old network, you might not get that internet connection you seek.

Is your internet too slow? Try our speed test.

You can take Reviews.org’s speed test to get an idea of how much bandwidth you’re getting.

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You might be able to speed things up with a few easy fixes—check out our guide on how to speed up your internet to find out how.

6. Connect to the wireless network

Once everything is set up, you’ll need to log onto your Wi-Fi network on other devices to get them all connected. It’s fairly simple—here are some quick instructions.

How to connect to a wireless network on Windows

If you run Windows 10 or Windows 11, here’s a quick guide to connect you to your network.

  1. Click Start, then go to Settings > Network & Internet > Status > Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Click on the Network icon in the notification bar.
  3. Choose the network (SSID) you created in step five and click Connect.
  4. Type in your password (or security key) to connect to the network.

How to connect to a wireless network on a Mac

Here is how to connect to a wireless network on an Apple computer:

  1. Click the Network icon in the menu bar at the top of your screen to see all the available networks. (If your Wi-Fi is off, click the Network icon and choose Turn Wi-Fi On.)
  2. Choose the network (SSID) you created in step five from the list.
  3. When asked to enter the password (security key), type it in and click Join to connect to the network.

Need a new internet plan? Run a search with your zip code to see what’s available in your area!

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What if you need a professional to install your internet?

Most internet providers offer self-install kits, making it easy to set up your Wi-Fi by yourself at home. Using the provider’s app, it can take as little as 15 minutes to get everything up and running.

But you may need a professional technician if you’re getting a type of internet service that previously hasn’t been installed in your home. In that case, pick a time for a technician to come by when you’re signing up for your pan. Just know that you may have to pay an additional fee for installation on top of other internet costs.

The best internet service providers for installation
Provider
Price range
Download speed
Installation fee
Learn more
Google Fiber$70-$150*1000-8000 MbpsNone
ATT$55-$225300-5000 Mbps$99.00
Verizon$49.99-$89.99300-2300 MbpsNone
Spectrum$19.99-$89.9930-1000 Mbps^$65.00
Viasat$69.99-$299.99°12-100 Mbps$99.00
Cox$9.95-$149.99**100-2000 Mbps$100.00
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area.
Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
^ Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.
° Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $12.99/mo. Taxes apply. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time.
** Prices exclude taxes, surcharges, usage-based charges, certain equipment, and other fees or charges, which are subject to change.

Recap: How do you set up your internet?

Setting up your internet may seem complicated, but you only need to hook up a few cables and secure your network. Well, you might need to troubleshoot a few things too. Technology, amirite?

Here’s a quick recap on how to connect your computer to the internet:

  1. Sign up for a home internet plan.
  2. Connect your modem.
  3. Connect your router.
  4. Set up your network.
  5. Connect to your wireless network.
  6. Test your internet connection.

If you've followed these steps but your internet isn’t working, you can learn more about how to fix your Wi-Fi network.

Don’t forget—if you’re shopping for internet, you can always search with your zip code to see what options you get where you live.

reviews.org next zip logo

FAQ

Most people should self-install their internet because it’s cheaper and easier than resorting to a professional technician. It also equips you with knowledge for troubleshooting your internet later.

If you have cable internet, then yes, you do need a coax (or coaxial) cable to connect to the internet.

If you have a wireless router and you’ve set up your network, connecting to the internet on a wireless device is easy. Check out our step-by-step guides for connecting to a network on Windows and on a Mac back in step six.

You’ll need to access your modem’s admin panel to change your Wi-Fi network password.

Remember to always change your network password from the default, and follow password creation best practices too!

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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