How to Connect a Router to the Internet

Set up a Wi-Fi network and get online

What to Know

  • Connect your modem to your router's WAN port via Ethernet cable. Plug the power supply in for both devices and wait for the lights to come on.
  • Find your router's network name (SSID) and network key. Use this information to connect your device to Wi-Fi.
  • To change the settings, open a web browser and enter the router's IP address in the URL bar, then enter the user name and password.

This article explains how to connect a router to the internet. The instructions apply broadly to all routers and modem-router combos.

How Do You Connect a Wireless Router to the Internet?

Once you have a plan with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), follow these steps to set up your wireless network and connect to the internet:

  1. Connect your modem to the wall outlet via a coaxial cable (the cylindrical cable that screws into the wall used for cable TV) or fiber optical cable if you have fiber internet.

    If you have a modem-router combo unit, that's all you need to do. Skip ahead to the next section to set up your Wi-Fi network.

    RF Coaxial Cable - Screw-on Type
    RF Coaxial Cable - Screw-on Type.

  2. Insert an Ethernet cable (one should come with the router) into the WAN/uplink port on your router. The WAN port might be a different color than the other Ethernet ports.

    An Ethernet cable being plugged into the WAN port of a router
    The yellow port indicates it's the WAN port.

  3. Insert the opposite end of the cable into the modem's Ethernet port.

    If your computer has an Ethernet port, you can connect it directly to one of the open ports on a modem/router combo for a more stable internet connection.

  4. Plug in the power supply for both devices and wait for the lights on your modem and router to turn on. You should now be able to access your router's Wi-Fi network.

How Do I Activate Internet on a New Router?

Go to the Wi-Fi settings and connect to the wireless network on your device. Enter the network key to start using the internet. You can find your network name (SSID) and key in the manual or on the router itself.

The network name and key are not the same as the user name and password, which are used to configure your router's settings.

User name and password on a Netgear router

Why Is My Router Not Connecting to the Internet?

If you can't connect to your Wi-Fi network at all, you may be too far away from the router. The best place to put your router is in a central location with as few nearby obstructions as possible. If you need to increase the wireless signal range, consider buying a Wi-Fi extender.

Try rebooting your router and modem if you're still having issues. If you're connected to your Wi-Fi network but don't have internet access, you need to troubleshoot your internet connection.

How to Access Your Router Settings

Log in to your router to configure your Wi-Fi network settings. Find your router's IP address and enter it in the URL bar of a web browser, then enter the user name and password. You can usually find this information on the back or bottom of your device.

You can create a guest network from your router's admin interface, configure advanced security settings, and change the default Wi-Fi password.

If the user name and password (or the network name and network key) have been changed, reset the router to factory settings to restore the default log-in credentials.

  • How can I connect my DVR to the internet without a router?

    Connecting your DVR to the internet may be an option that lets you access a wider variety of features. If your DVR has an Ethernet port, you can connect directly to your modem using an Ethernet cable.

  • How do I connect my laptop to the Internet using a wireless router?

    To connect to a wireless network on a Windows 10 laptop, select the Network icon in the taskbar, choose a network, select Connect, and enter the network key if prompted. To connect to a Wi-Fi network on macOS, select the network icon in the menu bar, choose the network, enter the password if prompted, and select OK.

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