Install a Modem

Did you just sign up for a new internet service, only to be faced with a massive installation fee? Or are you leasing a modem from your service provider, wasting valuable money each month? You can install your own modem without having a technician come to your house as long as you are wired for their network. See Step 1 below to learn how.


Modem Choice

  1. Make sure the modem can work with your service provider. While uncommon, sometimes you might run into an issue where the modem you purchased isn't compatible with the internet service available in your area. Call your internet provider to find out or check their website for more information.
    • The modem you need will depend on the type of your internet connection. If you are using DSL, you will need a DSL modem. If you are using cable, you will need a cable modem. Fiber optic connections do not typically require modems.
  2. Check that the modem is compatible with your operating system. Do you have a Windows PC? A Mac? Both? Well, then you're going to need to make sure that whatever modem you buy will work your operating system(s). Most modems work with virtually all operating systems. If you are using a router, then you don’t need to worry about operating system compatibility.
  3. Research modem brands. There are many brands of modems available, but not all of them have a great shelf-life. Read consumer reviews and try to find modems that have the best cost-to-performance ratio. Below are some popular brands.
    • Motorola
    • Cisco-Linksys
    • Lucent
    • Speedstream
    • Zoom


  1. Remove your old modem. Remember to uninstall any drivers associated with your old modem and reset your computer after doing so. Also, keep the cables since you might need them for your new modem.
  2. Read the instructions. While this article can give you the basic steps for setting up your modem, every modem is different. Be sure to carefully read your instructions and follow the steps exactly to reduce headaches later.
  3. Set the modem up. Place the modem in a location with good air circulation and away from other devices that may interfere with signals. Follow the instructions provided to connect the modem to the Cable or DSL line in your house.
    • If you are using DSL, you will need to install filters first into a phone line.
  4. Power the modem on. Once you’ve connected the modem to the service source, power it on by plugging it on and pressing the power button (if applicable). Wait a minute or two for the modem to boot up completely. The power light should be solid, while your connection light may be blinking because the modem hasn’t been activated yet.
  5. Connect your computer to the modem. Using an Ethernet cable, connect your computer to the internet or WAN port on the back of the modem. This will connect your computer directly to the internet. You can set up your wireless network after the modem has been activated.
  6. Start the activation process. Depending on your modem and service provider, you may need to run a setup program before you use the modem. In other cases, you may need to open a web browser and then follow the on-screen prompts to activate your service. Refer to the directions provided by your service provider to be sure.[1]
    • Some internet service providers may need you to call with the MAC address of the modem. The MAC address is found on a sticker that's either on the back or the side of the modem. It looks something like “00-00-00-00-00-00”, but with a mixture of letters and numbers.


  1. Fix a modem that won’t turn on. Make sure the power supply is plugged in properly to both the modem and the power outlet. If the modem is plugged into a power strip, make sure that the strip is still functioning. If everything looks like it should be working k, there may be an issue with the power cable or the modem itself.
  2. Fix a modem that won’t connect. The simplest way to fix any connection issues with your modem is to power cycle it. This means unplugging it from the power source, waiting about 30 seconds, and then plugging it back in. This will reset the modem’s settings, hopefully restoring the connection. If the problem persists, contact your service provider; there could be an outage in your area.
  3. Fix a slow connection. This could be caused by many variables. There could be a problem with your computer or the modem was installed incorrectly. Sometimes there are problems with the service provider that will have to be fixed on their end. Make sure that all of the cables are connected properly and, if need be, try reinstalling the modem.
  4. When in doubt, call a professional. Troubleshooting on your own may not work. Think in terms of time and effort. If you spend more than 30 minutes on the issue, it is best to have an expert help out. Contact the support line for the modem manufacturer, your ISP and any tech-savvy friends you have. These should be free resources that get your modem working, meaning you get back online in a hurry without unnecessarily spending money.
    • There are a variety of communities online dedicated to technical support for a variety of products. Perform a web search for the problem you are having and see if someone else has come up with a solution.

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