Setting up internet for the first time at a new home? Use our guide to make the process simple to get and setup service and troubleshoot any connection issues.
Setting up internet service can be a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time internet buyer or just moved to a new area. But fear not! We’ve done the research and heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is pick an internet provider and plan that fits your browsing habits. Follow the steps below to quickly and easily get high-speed internet in your home.
Three easy steps to get internet in your home
Step 1: Compare providers and plans
Locate internet providers in your area. Consider connection type, available internet speeds, starting price, service reliability, contract options and bundle deals when making your selections.
Step 2: Order your internet service
Once you’ve determined your provider and plan, order online or give us a call at 833.242.0802. We’ll gather some basic information to sign you up and schedule an appointment with your new internet service provider (ISP).
Step 3: Set up your internet service
Choose between contactless or self-installation or professional installation. If you choose a professional install, your new internet provider will come out to your house and physically connect you to the network.
How to set up internet equipment
Typically, your provider will send a technician out to complete your installation and set up your equipment for you. However, sometimes you can also choose to do a contactless or self-install, particularly now as internet providers respond to the COVID outbreak. Once you’ve ordered your internet service and have your cable, DSL, satellite or fiber internet modem in hand, you’re ready to set up your wireless router.
Get a modem and router
Decide if you would rather purchase or rent your own modem and router. Renting can be more simple at first, but buying can save you money in the long term.
What’s the difference between the two pieces of equipment?
- A modem will bring the internet connection into your home from your internet service provider.
- The router takes the internet connection from your modem and distributes it to the multiple devices connected into your home network.
Connect your router to the provider network
This step might seem tricky at first, but connecting your router to your internet network is easier than it sounds.
- First, take the cable company’s coaxial cable, the phone company’s DSL phone line, the satellite company’s data line or the fiber optic company’s data line and plug it into your modem.
- Then, take the Ethernet cable from your modem and plug it into your wireless router.
- Now plug in the power cords of both devices, turn them both on, and let them calibrate and communicate with each other for a few minutes. You’ll see the lights on both devices flicker back and forth for a little while.
Nowadays, many ISPs also offer combined modem/router units, so you might even be able to plug all your cords into a single piece of equipment, basically combining steps one and two above.
Set up your secure Wi-Fi
Once everything is all plugged in, set up your Wi-Fi router through the web interface, a pre-internet portal that allows you to create and maintain your home Wi-Fi network. To do so:
- Locate the device’s default IP address and default login information. This will be on the back of the router or in the device manual. (Want to know more? Find answers to the question, what is an IP address.)
- Open up a web browser and type in the IP address.
- After the setup wizard, go through the menus and change your Wi-Fi login password (to keep your network secure) and its name (feel free to make it something easily recognizable.
What happens next? After setup, the router receives a single public internet protocol (IP) address on the web. Servers on the backend of the internet communicate with your wireless router, and the router routes that information traffic to the appropriate devices on your home network.
How to fix common internet connection problems
It can be frustrating when your internet isn’t up and working properly. Here, we address some common internet connection problems and how to fix them.
- Modem and router issues
- Check the lights on your modem and router. Flashing lights are a good thing. If you see a steady, blinking orange light, it generally indicates an issue.
- Restart your modem and router to give them a chance to clear out any connection issues. Give them a few minutes to establish a connection with your ISP.
- If that doesn’t work, plug your computer’s Ethernet cable directly into your modem to see if the wireless router is the problem.
Your internet is slow, but you don’t know why. Could bandwidth and latency be a factor? Learn more about these tech terms!
If you’ve been trying to figure out “Why is my internet so slow?” recently, you’ve probably stumbled upon a few tech terms, like download speed, upload speed, bandwidth and latency.
While it is important to understand download vs. upload speed when it comes to slow internet, you also need to know the difference between bandwidth and latency.
When shopping for satellite internet, you’ll likely find two available options: HughesNet and Viasat, and coming soon, Starlink. Which provider is best for your home may come down to your location as HughesNet is the faster, more affordable option in select areas while Viasat may be the better option in others. Starlink offers the fastest speeds regardless of where you live but its starting price is steep at $99/mo.
Compare satellite internet providers
|Starting monthly price*||$49.99||$50.00||$99.00|
|Download speed range**||25 – 25 Mbps||12 – 100 Mbps||50 – 150 Mbps|
|Plan term||Two-year agreement||Two-year agreement||None|
|Data allowance||Between 10-50GB, depending on plan||Between 40-150GB, depending on plan||Unlimited|
HughesNet satellite internet plans
|Plan name||Starting price*||Download speeds**||Monthly data allowance|
|Gen5 10GB||$59.99/mo.||25 Mbps||10GB|
|Gen5 20GB||$69.99/mo.||25 Mbps||20GB|
|Gen5 30GB||$99.99/mo.||25 Mbps||30GB|
|Gen5 50GB||$149.99/mo.||25 Mbps||50GB|
HughesNet service highlights
Compared to Viasat, HughesNet has more consistent pricing and speed tiers, plus more “free” data available and lower equipment costs each month. According to the 2018 FCC broadband report, HughesNet is also more likely to reach advertised speeds than Viasat.
- Plan price and speed consistency – HughesNet speeds (up to 25 Mbps) are standard, as is plan pricing, whereas Viasat speeds and pricing may vary by location.
- “Bonus Zone” data – HughesNet customers can enjoy an extra 50GB of data/mo. available from the hours of 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. – a feature that Viasat doesn’t have.
- Low equipment fees – HughesNet equipment lease starts around $10/mo., a few bucks cheaper than the Viasat rental fee.
- Actual vs. advertised speeds – HughesNet is one of the few ISPs that actually provides faster speeds than what is advertised. The FCC reported that HughesNet’s median download speed is 31.27 Mbps for its advertised 25 Mbps plan.
Viasat satellite internet plans
|Plans||Intro price*||Price after 3 mos.*||Download speed||Data cap|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||$69.99/mo.||$99.99/mo.||12 Mbps||40GB|
|Unlimited Silver 25||$99.99/mo.||$149.99/mo.||25 Mbps||60GB|
|Unlimited Gold 30||$149.99/mo.||$199.99/mo.||30 Mbps||100GB|
Viasat service highlights
Viasat offers faster speeds than HughesNet, but only in select areas. Regardless of available speeds, customers will appreciate higher data allowances than what’s available with most HughesNet plans, plus a two-year price guarantee.
- Speeds up to 100 Mbps – Viasat offers four times the speed of HughesNet, but only in select areas. In some locations, available speeds may top out at 50, 30 or 12 Mbps.
- Higher data allowances – With data plans ranging from 40-150GB, Viasat plans give you more data for the price compared to HughesNet.
- Two-year contract – Viasat plans require a two-year contract lock, but your price will be guaranteed for the length of it once the three-month introductory pricing ends. HughesNet customers may see a price increase after six months of service.
- Actual vs. advertised speeds – Expect Viasat’s service to be slightly slower than what is advertised. The FCC reported that the median download speed for Viasat’s advertised 12 Mbps plan is 10.75 Mbps (89.6% of the advertised speed).
Starlink satellite internet plans
|Plan||Starting price||Download speeds||Latency||Data caps||Equipment costs|
|Starlink beta plan||$99.00/mo.||50 – 150 Mbps||40 – 60 ms||Unlimited||$499|
Starlink service highlights
Starlink internet is potentially a game-changer for satellite internet. With faster speeds, lower latency and unlimited data, Starlink will allow residents of rural households who currently are unable to work and learn remotely, to finally be able to do so. Starlink’s only downside is that it is quite expensive, with prices starting at $99/mo.
Starlink is currently only in a beta phase, which means Starlink is only available to a limited number of users right now, and pricing and data caps could be subject to change. Starlink is offering its services on a first-come, first-served basis and is currently only available in the Northwest region of the U.S. Sign-ups require a $99 deposit.
- Speeds up to 150 Mbps – Starlink speeds currently range between 50 and 150 Mbps. However, as more satellites enter the network, Starlink’s speeds will likely increase up to 300 Mbps. Starlink only offers one plan, so the speed range refers to what any customer can expect to experience.
- Low latency– The greatest difference between Starlink and other satellite companies has to do with latency. Starlink’s latency is significantly lower than HughesNet or Viasat, which means it will be easier for users to work or learn from home using Starlink.
- Unlimited data – Although Starlink is currently not imposing data caps, it is unclear whether this will remain true after its beta phase. Starlink has only stated that there are no data caps “at this time.”
How satellite internet works
HughesNet and Viasat
Satellite internet is an internet connection that uses satellite signals to send and receive data. HughesNet and Viasat use geostationary (fixed position) satellites that are about 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.
From this height, a single satellite can cover a broad area. However, since so many customers are connected to the same satellite, access to data is shared by potentially thousands of customers at once. With so many people connected at once, satellite internet providers use data caps to help ensure there is enough bandwidth for all.
Additionally, 22,000 miles is a long way for data to travel, which is why satellite internet has such high latency (600+ ms). Such high latency makes real-time online gaming and live streaming difficult if not impossible.
You can use a satellite internet connection for downloading, on-demand video streaming, uploading and some gaming (turn-based strategy games are best for satellite internet).
Starlink, developed under the SpaceX umbrella headed by Elon Musk, is a new type of satellite technology that uses low-orbit satellites. With the use of thousands of these low-orbiting satellites, Starlink aims to remove some of the pain points that come with satellite internet, namely latency and data restrictions. For instance, while HughesNet and Viasat have latency speeds at 600 ms or higher, Starlink’s latency is much lower, ranging between 20 to 40 ms. Starlink speeds (50-150 Mbps) rival DSL and basic cable internet service, but may get faster as more satellites enter the network.
Just like other types of internet providers, satellite internet requires a modem and a router for home Wi-Fi service, in addition to a stationary satellite dish.
Satellite vs. other types of internet
Satellite internet is available virtually everywhere, but it’s not for everyone. Why? Because satellite internet lacks the speeds and bandwidth capabilities of cable, fiber and even some DSL internet connections. Why? satellite internet providers aren’t to blame, the technology is limited.
Advantages of satellite internet
- Higher speeds than DSL internet
- Great for rural areas where DSL and cable internet are not available
- Service usually has enough bandwidth to support light to moderate usage, web browsing and streaming movies and music
- Faster and more reliable than dial-up internet
- Actual speeds are usually exactly as advertised, where cable and fiber usually get around 90%
Disadvantages of satellite internet
- Prone to weather-related disruptions or lags in speed
- Satellite internet providers have monthly data caps around 100GB, while cable and fiber plans are usually unlimited
- High latency makes playing real-time online gaming or working from home impractical (Starlink will have much lower latency than HughesNet or Viasat)
- Not known for being a cheap internet option
- Speeds – Max download speeds for satellite internet are currently lower than you’ll find with fiber or cable internet connections, but may be faster than DSL service in many areas. That said, you’re more likely to actually get the speeds that are advertised with satellite.
- Pricing – Considering the speeds you get for the price, satellite internet is one of the more expensive internet options. While starting pricing for HughesNet and Viasat is around $50/mo., the speeds and data that come with it are lower than you’ll find from other internet types with plans around the same price.
- Data caps – As we’ve mentioned above, satellite internet plans typically come with far less data than DSL, cable or fiber plans — usually around 100GB compared to unlimited data on most cable and fiber plans. That said, HughesNet and Viasat don’t charge overage fees for going over your data limit, but they will slow your speeds significantly.
- Latency – Also as mentioned above, latency is much higher with satellite internet than other internet types, which can limit what you do online.
- Contracts – HughesNet and Viasat service comes with a two-year contract. While contracts vary more by provider than internet type, a two-year contract is still longer than what is required from many other internet providers.
Fiber optic internet, also known as “fiber internet” or just “fiber,” uses thin cables made of glass or plastic fibers to transfer data as light signals. This type of internet connection can support faster, more reliable download and upload speeds compared to DSL and cable internet networks. As a relatively new internet technology, fiber optic service is quickly growing in popularity and availability.
Most gigabit internet providers use a fiber optic network, but not all fiber internet connections are the same. Depending on where you live, you may have access to FTTN, FTTH or FTTC networks.
FTTN – fiber to the node
Fiber to the node (FTTN) connections use fiber optic cables to carry data to a hub close to your home. From this point, DSL or coaxial cables carry the data the rest of the way.
FTTN connections can also be referred to as “hybrid fiber coaxial network” or HFC, and are common connection types from cable internet providers. Since this type of connection isn’t pure fiber, the connection is not as reliable or fast when it comes to upload speeds.
FTTC – fiber to the curb
Fiber to the curb (FTTC) connections carry the fiber optic signals further than FTTN connections, stopping just short of your house, or at the “curb.”
FTTC does still use a DSL or coaxial cable to bridge the gap between your home and the street, which can leave your connection susceptible to signal interference just like with FTTN.
FTTH – fiber to the home
Fiber to the home (FTTH) connections employ fiber optic cables all the way to your home. Also known as “fiber to the premises,” FTTH offers the best in bandwidth, reliability and speed consistency.
AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier FiberOptic and Verizon Fios claim to offer a 100% fiber network in select areas.
Compare fiber optic internet providers
Many of the internet providers listed also have more plan options using a cable or DSL network. Additionally, some providers, including Frontier, Verizon and Kinetic by Windstream, have multiple fiber plans available, so the lowest-priced plan does not necessarily come with the provider’s max fastest speeds.
Check to see how fiber internet connections differ from top internet service providers, compare costs and check to see which providers are available at your home.
|Provider||Number of fiber plans||Price range||Download speed range|
|3||$35.00-$60.00/mo.*||300 – 940 Mbps|
|1||$49.00 – $65.00/mo.**||20 – 1,000 Mbps|
|1||$29.00 – $99.99/mo.*||10 – 940 Mbps|
|3||$49.99 – $199.99/mo.*||50 – 940 Mbps|
|Optimum||3||$45.00 – $80.00/mo.*||300 – 940 Mbps|
|3||$35.00 – $75.00/mo.*||100 – 1,000 Mbps|
|3||$39.99 – $79.99/mo.*||200 – 940 Mbps|
|1||$25.00 – $67.00/mo.*||15 – 1,000 Mbps|
|1||$24.99 – $299.99/mo.*||50 – 2,000 Mbps|
What is fiber optic internet good for?
Compared to other internet types, such as cable and DSL, fiber optic internet is perfect for many uses, including some of the more demanding online tasks.
- Streaming TV – Fiber’s high speeds and connection quality make it ideal for streaming with little to no buffering, even in HD or 4K.
- Downloading shows/movies/games – The gigabit speeds available from most fiber internet providers cut download times for large files such as movies or games significantly. For example, you could download a 4 GB show in around 35 seconds with 1,000 Mbps, compared to nearly an hour with typical speeds from a DSL connection.
- Gaming online – With fiber optic internet, data travels up to 70% the speed of light, making for extremely low lag, which is perfect for gamers.
- Video conferencing – Fiber internet has fast upload speeds compared to cable and DSL internet, which are needed for video conferencing as well as uploading pictures and videos to social media.
Pros and cons of fiber internet
Advantages of fiber internet
- Resistant to interference — Since fiber’s main conductor is glass, it provides a connection known for superior performance, reliability and high speeds.
- Fastest speeds available — Internet speeds can reach up to 1,000 Mbps (gigabit) or higher in select areas.
- Becoming more affordable — Because more providers are now offering fiber internet and fiber optic networks cost less to maintain, prices for fiber internet have been getting more competitive over the last several years.
Disadvantages of fiber internet
- Not typically available in rural areas — Fiber internet is still available mainly in metro and suburban areas.
- Higher start-up costs — Fiber optic networks cost more than other internet connection types to construct, which can lead to higher initial costs for providers and customers.
- More complex installation — Since fiber technology is newer, a provider may need to set up new lines to your home, and professional installation is typically required.
Cable internet, much like cable TV service, uses coaxial cables that connect from your home through a modem receiver to a nearby node, and then to your internet service provider. The modem receives electrical signals, which then convert into internet service, similar to how a cable TV box receives a signal and displays an image.
What we like
- Faster than DSL or satellite internet – Cable internet offers speeds up to 10x faster than DSL or satellite internet.
- Widespread availability – Apart form satellite internet or fixed wireless, cable internet is the most available internet service, serving 89% of U.S. residents.
- Easy installation – Cable internet is already installed in most homes, unlike fiber internet which requires a lengthy and expensive installation process for it to become available in your community.
Things to consider
- Irregular internet speeds – You may find that during peak usage hours of the day, your internet will slow.
- Potential data caps – Select cable internet providers have data caps and may throttle your internet speed or charge additional fees when you go over your limit.
- Fiber is a better option – Cable internet is a good option, but it’s not the best option. Fiber internet has cable beat when it comes to cost, speed and reliability.
Is cable internet right for your home?
Cable internet is a popular option for many homes as providers typically offer a range of speed options and high data allowances to support streaming, gaming online and other internet activities on multiple devices. Along with numerous internet plan options, cable companies are also likely to have TV and phone options available as well, and often come with monthly savings when bundled together.
Cable internet is good for:
- Speed options
- Data allowance
- Video conferencing
Cable vs. DSL vs. fiber
Cable vs. DSL: While cable internet is integrated into the cable television infrastructure, DSL is integrated into the telephone line infrastructure. Both share similar availability, but a coaxial cable supports higher bandwidth than a telephone line, which gives cable internet a significant speed advantage over DSL internet. With greater speeds, you can stream and search the internet with multiple devices at a time.
Cable vs. fiber: Coaxial cables are more common and less expensive than fiber optic cables. This makes cable internet more widely-available and sometimes lower-priced than fiber optic internet service. Cable can also be more convenient as it is already installed in most homes, as opposed to fiber. While cable tends to provide faster internet speeds than DSL, fiber is known for providing faster and more reliable internet. One more thing to consider when comparing fiber vs. cable? Although fast, fiber only covers approximately 41% of the country. Cable, on the other hand, covers close to 90%.