Your Guide to Spectrum Installation
Spectrum offers two options for installing internet service: a self-install and a professional install. We go through the pros and cons of each installation method to help you decide which best suits your needs. We also provide detailed instructions for completing a self-install and getting ready for a professional install.
The first order of business is deciding whether to opt for the self-install or schedule a pro install. The self-install is cheaper, but it doesn’t always work. If you can’t afford to wait for a tech visit in the event your self-install fails, it’s best to schedule a professional installation from the start. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.
Pro installation vs. self-installation
- Tech performs entire installation (less work for you)
- Tech can fix any issues that arise
- Tech can move the connection to a different room
- Tech checks overall network health and uncovers potential problems
- Installation fee ($59.99)
- Required scheduled appointment
- Larger time commitment (usually 2–4 hours)
- No appointment necessary
- Cheap price ($19.99 activation fee)
- Quick and easy setup
- Doesn’t always work
- Can’t move the connection to a different room
- May leave some issues with your network unchecked
Self-install Spectrum Internet®
Cost: $19.99 self-install activation fee
What you need: Spectrum self-install kit, compatible modem or gateway
How long it takes: 30 min (approx.)
Will a Spectrum self-install work for me?
A self-install is the quickest way to install Spectrum Internet,® but you have to do it yourself. The good news is it’s very easy. To do it, you need a self-install kit, and your residence must be connected to the Spectrum network.
How to tell if your home is connected to the Spectrum network:
- Ask SpectrumSpectrum can tell you how long it’s been since the residence has had its services. If the address has had service recently (within 12 months), it’s more likely a self-install will work. If the address hasn’t had Spectrum services in a while, it doesn’t mean the self-install won’t work, it’s just less likely.
- Ask the prior residentsIf the prior residents can confirm they had Spectrum Internet, the lines are probably still active and working. You should also ask the prior residence where the modem was installed, if possible.
Self-install is a good option if:
- The residence has recently had Spectrum services (especially apartments).
- You’re comfortable setting up your equipment.
- You can afford to wait for a pro install appointment in the event the self-install doesn’t work.
Wired for cable vs. connected to the Spectrum network
Being connected to the network isn’t the same thing as being wired for cable. If a home is wired for cable, that just means coaxial cable outlets are installed, but it doesn’t mean those outlets are already connected to the Spectrum ISP network.
You need a tech from Spectrum to actually connect the home to the network. In a way, when you opt for a self-install, you’re sort of betting that the home has been connected to the Spectrum network in the past and that the connection is still active. Learning how recently the home has had Spectrum services—either by contacting Spectrum or the prior residents—can tell you how likely it is that a self-installation will work.
How long does a Spectrum self-install take?
You can complete your self-install in about 30 minutes, and a good chunk of that time is waiting while the modem boots, updates, and then reboots. The actual equipment setup is very simple and takes only a minute or two.
Professional installation for Spectrum Internet®
Cost: Up to $59.99
What you need: A person 18 or older present
How long it takes: 1–3 hours
With a professional install, a Spectrum technician comes to your residence and sets up your new internet service for you. The biggest advantage a pro install has over a self-install is that the tech can connect your residence to the Spectrum network.
The benefits don’t stop there, though; the tech can also place the modem in a room of your choice and find and repair any issues with your home’s cabling.
A professional installation is a good option if:
- Your residence hasn’t had Spectrum service for over 12 months.
- The coaxial cables and outlets look old or damaged.
- You’re installing multiple pieces of equipment (such as an internet gateway and 4 TV boxes).
- You want to install your Spectrum modem or gateway in a room that doesn’t have an active coaxial cable. See our guide on where to place your router to learn more about picking the best spot in your home.
How to self-install Spectrum Internet®
To self-install Spectrum Internet, you need a Spectrum self-install kit and an active coaxial cable (the same kind of cable used for cable TV) outlet in the room where you want to place the modem.
How to order your Spectrum self-install kit
You can order your self-install kit when you first order your Spectrum Internet® plan. You can choose to have your self-install kit mailed to you, or you can pick it up at a Spectrum store.
What comes in your self-install kit
Your Spectrum self-install kit will come with the following:
- Spectrum modem w/ power cord
- 2 coaxial cables
- Coax splitter
- Ethernet cable
How to connect your Spectrum modem
Step 1: Place your Spectrum modem near a coaxial cable outlet.
Step 2: Take a coaxial cable from your self-install kit and connect one end to the back of the Spectrum modem, and connect the other end to the coaxial wall outlet.
Step 3: Plug one end of the modem power cord into the back of the Spectrum modem and the other end into an electrical outlet.
Step 4: The Spectrum modem will begin to boot up. Wait for the online status light on the front of the modem to go from blinking blue to solid blue. This usually takes 2–5 minutes but can take up to 20 minutes.
This is when you’ll learn if your residence is connected to the Spectrum network. If the online status light goes solid, you’re ready to activate your Spectrum service. If, after waiting 20 minutes, the light is still blinking, you probably need a technician.
Step 5: If you’re using a Wi-Fi router, connect one end of the Ethernet cable that came with your kit to the Ethernet port on the back of the modem and connect the other end to your Wi-Fi router.
If you’re not using a router, connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the modem and connect the other end to the Ethernet port on your computer. However, we don’t recommend this because you lose the added security features that come with using a router.
Issues with a Spectrum self-install
If your modem doesn’t go online (indicated by a solid blue online light), you probably need a Spectrum technician to come set up your internet. If you’re still having issues with your connection after activating your service, use our internet troubleshooting resources to get your Wi-Fi running smoothly.
Start with our guide on how to set up a home Wi-Fi network, as it may help you with general steps you may have missed that apply to any Wi-Fi network.
If your new Spectrum connection is a bit spotty or slow, or if you’re having trouble connecting a device, try our internet and Wi-Fi troubleshooting guides:
Pro install Spectrum Internet®
If you decide to go with professional installation from a Spectrum technician, you should schedule an appointment when you order your services. Here’s what you can expect:
Pro installation breakdown
|Cost||Appointment window||Appointment time|
|$59.99||1 hr.||1–3 hrs.|
Data as of 07/14/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
How to order a Spectrum professional installation
You may be able to choose a pro install when ordering your services, but the option isn’t always available when ordering online, in which case you can call Spectrum customer service at (833) 267-6094.
How to prepare for a Spectrum professional installation
Here are some preparations you can make to ensure your installation goes as smoothly as possible.
Confirming your Spectrum service appointment
For certain services, you need to confirm your appointment with Spectrum, or the appointment may be canceled. When an appointment requires confirmation, you’ll be notified of when and how to confirm the appointment.
Preparations for your Spectrum professional installation
- Someone 18 years old or older with a government-issued ID must be present during the installation (typically 1–3 hours).
- Ensure access to your utilities. This might be a telephone pole or pedestal in a neighbor’s yard. The tech will also need access to where the cable is grounded (probably somewhere on the side of the house, near the power meter). This isn’t usually applicable for apartments.
- Ensure access to the areas where you want the cable installed. This includes moving any furniture or other items that block access to the cable outlets.
Spectrum pro installation steps
The installation process usually takes between one and three hours, depending on what needs to be done. If complications arise or you need a lot of cable outlets installed, it may take a little longer. These are the general steps to a tech installing cable internet:
Step 1: The tech arrives and reviews the order.
The tech confirms your order and the room where you want your service installed. They will also need to access the nearest cable tap utility and various locations where the cable runs throughout your home.
Step 2: They connect your home to the Spectrum network.
To do this, the tech needs access to the nearest cable tap. This is often located on a nearby telephone pole, a telecommunications pedestal, or a junction box if you live in an apartment.
Step 3: The tech ground the main cable line before it enters your home.
The tech usually grounds the cable line to your power meter box. This step usually isn’t necessary for apartments, but it depends on the utility setup of the building.
Step 4: They then route the signal to the room where you want the equipment installed.
This step is a little different for every home. If your home is prewired with coaxial cable, things are simpler. If you need a new coaxial line run to a room, that’s a bit more of a process, but nothing the tech can’t handle.
Step 5: Next, they’ll set up equipment and explain how to use your service.
This is when the tech will connect your modem and set up your new home network. They also go over how to use your new Spectrum Internet® service.
Equipment: Renting vs. buying Spectrum equipment
Spectrum provides a modem free of charge but charges $5 per month to rent a Wi-Fi router. The other option is to purchase your own router, which costs more up front but saves money in the long run.
- Costs less up front
- Easy and free tech support and replacement
- Guaranteed compatibility with your Spectrum service
- Costs more over time
- May lack some advanced features
- Choose equipment based on your needs
- Keep your equipment even if you switch providers
- Avoid monthly payments
- Higher up-front cost
- Some research required
- More difficulty getting tech support
- Spectrum won’t replace it if it breaks
How much does it cost to rent a modem from Spectrum?
Spectrum provides a free modem, but it charges $5 per month to rent a router. That’s $100 per year, a lot less than what most ISPs charge (usually around $12 to $15 per month).
How much does it cost to buy my own router for Spectrum Internet?
Router prices can range anywhere from $60 to several hundred dollars. It really depends on your needs. Long-range routers and mesh routers have great coverage and features but tend to be the most expensive. Take a look at our buyer’s guide on the best routers if you need some help choosing your Wi-Fi machine.
Should I buy or rent a modem and router for Spectrum Internet®?
Spectrum’s $5 per month is one of the lowest monthly rental price tags out there. The modem is free, so we recommend you use it unless you have special circumstances that require something fancier. The same goes for the router—$5 a month is a good deal when you consider it provides tech support, replacements, and upgrades for your router.
Thinking of buying a router for your Spectrum internet service?
See our 2022’s best routers guide, where we compare the prices, specs, and performance of the best routers.
If you don’t want the hassle of researching and shopping around for a good router (as well as worrying about the router breaking), rent a router from Spectrum.
On the other hand, if you need special features or want more control over your Wi-Fi network, purchasing your own router may be worth it. For example, if you have a large home and need to cover the whole thing, you might want a long-range router or a mesh network. For more information, see our full breakdown of renting vs. buying a modem and router.
Which install option is best for you?
It never hurts to try a self-install. The worst-case scenario is that it doesn’t work, and you proceed to schedule a professional install. However, if you don’t have the time or it’s crucial you get your internet service up and running by a specific date, the safer bet is to schedule the pro install right away.
Author - Austin Aguirre
Austin worked as a broadband technician installing and troubleshooting countless home internet networks for some of the largest ISPs in the U.S. He became a freelance writer in 2020 specializing in software guides. After graduating with a BS in technical communication from Arizona State University, he joined the team at HighSpeedInternet.com where he focuses on home network improvement and troubleshooting.
Editor - Aaron Gates