How to Set Up a Home Wi-Fi Network
Our simple step-by-step guide to getting connected
Setting up your own home network is easier than you may think. All you need is an internet connection from an internet service provider, a modem, a router, and a smartphone or computer. Let’s walk through the steps of getting your Wi-Fi up and running.
Step 1: Get an internet connection
If you don’t have a home internet connection already, it’s time to get hooked up. You can look up and compare internet service providers (ISPs) in your area with our handy zip check tool.
Many providers allow you to sign up online or by calling a customer service representative. One perk to getting a new internet connection set up is that during installation, a professional may set up your whole home network for you.
If you want a detailed walkthrough on how to choose an internet plan, check out our guide to choosing an ISP. But basically, you need to consider availability, speed, and cost.
Step 2: Set up your modem
A modem modulates internet signals from the ISP’s larger network to signals your home network can actually use. It’s an essential part of your home network because it basically acts as a translator and creates the little bubble of space on the internet that is your home network.
Different types of internet (cable, DSL, fiber, etc.) use different technologies, so you have to make sure that your modem of choice is compatible with your type of internet.
Need a modem? Check out our guide to the best gigabit modems.
If you receive home networking equipment from your ISP, your modem may be included in your gateway. (A gateway is basically a modem and router combined in one device). To connect your modem to your home internet connection, find your main internet hookup.
Cable internet: Your hookup is a coaxial outlet.
DSL internet: Your hookup looks similar to a phone jack.
Satellite internet: Your main connection is probably an Ethernet cable.
Fiber internet: If you have fiber direct to your home, your hookup is an Optical Network Terminal (ONT).
Once connected to the internet source and plugged in, check your modem’s status lights. It can take a while for things to come fully online. You may have to call your internet service to activate the modem (basically to make sure the network recognizes the modem).
You can connect a computer directly to your modem with an Ethernet cable to make sure your internet is working properly. But we don’t recommend using a direct modem connection for regular internet use because it leaves your connection vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Step 3: Set up your wireless router
Your router manages your home network. It assigns IP addresses, organizes traffic, and makes sure all your data goes to where it’s supposed to go. It also creates your Wi-Fi network. Any router should work—you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues like you do with modems.
1. Connect your router directly to your modem with an Ethernet cable and turn it on.
2. Wait for status lights to show that it’s connected to the internet successfully and that its Wi-Fi network is up and running.
3. Find your router’s default IP address and log in to your router. (Here are some simple instructions on how to log in to your router.)
4. In your router’s user interface or app, set up your Wi-Fi network’s name (SSID) and password. If your router has multiple Wi-Fi bands (usually 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), do this for each.
5. If your router offers more advanced features like scheduling, guest networks, or user profiles, set those up now as well.
Step 4: Connect your devices
It’s time to get online. You have two options for connecting your internet devices to your router: wired Ethernet connections or Wi-Fi.
To connect to Wi-Fi, navigate to network settings on the device you wish to connect. Find your Wi-Fi network, and use the password you created during setup to log in.
To connect via Ethernet cable, simply plug an Ethernet cable into one of the LAN ports on your router and plug the other end into your device. Not all internet-using devices have Ethernet ports, but wired connections are good for your most important connections—like a home computer or gaming console.
If there aren’t enough Ethernet ports on your router, add an Ethernet switch to expand your network.
Author - Rebecca Lee Armstrong
Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.
Editor - Aaron Gates