How to Connect a Router to a Modem

Create a Wi-Fi network and connect to the web

What to Know

  • Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into your modem and the other end into the router's WAN port.
  • Find your router's network name and connect to it on your computer using the Wi-Fi network key.
  • To configure router settings, open a web browser, enter your router's IP address in the URL bar, then enter the user name and password.

This article explains how to connect basically any router and modem so that you can set up a Wi-Fi network and connect to the web.

How to Connect a Router to a Modem

Here's how to connect your router to your modem with an Ethernet cable:

  1. With your modem's power cord unplugged, connect your modem to the wall outlet via a coaxial cable (the cylindrical cable that screws into the wall used for cable TV).

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

  2. With the router's power cord unplugged, plug an Ethernet cable (one should come with the router) into the router's WAN/uplink port. The WAN port may be a different color from the other Ethernet ports on the back of your router.

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

  3. Plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into the modem.

    If your computer has an Ethernet port, you can connect it to one of the other ports on the router for a more stable connection.

  4. Plug the modem's power cord into the wall, then plug your router's power cord into the wall.

  5. Wait for the lights on your modem and router to turn on, then try connecting to the Wi-Fi network with your computer or mobile device.

How Do I Connect to My Wi-Fi Router?

Locate your router's network name and Wi-Fi network key, which you can usually find on the bottom of the router or in the manual. On your computer, go to the Wi-Fi settings and connect to the wireless network, then enter the key to access the web.

The network name and key are not the same as the user name and password used for logging into your router and configuring the network settings.

How Do I Connect My New Router to the Internet?

As long as your modem is working and getting an internet signal, you should be able to start using the web right away. If you can connect to your Wi-Fi network but you still don't have internet access, try rebooting your router and modem. If that doesn't work, you should troubleshoot your Wi-Fi network.

When deciding where to put your router, choose an open area with as few obstructions as possible. To increase the range of your network, invest in a Wi-Fi extender.

Can You Connect a Router to a Modem-Router?

If you use a modem-router combination unit to access the internet, but you want to upgrade your router, plug the new router into your modem-router with an Ethernet cable and connect to the new Wi-Fi network. You may want to add an external router if you desire advanced security features.

Configure Your Wi-Fi Router Settings

To log into your router and change the network settings, open a web browser, enter your router's IP address in the URL bar, then enter the user name and password.

Once logged into your router's admin interface, you can set up a guest network, configure security settings, and more. At a minimum, you should change the default Wi-Fi password to decrease the likelihood of hackers infiltrating your network.

If you or another person changed the default user name and password, reset your router to factory settings. Insert the straightened end of a paperclip into the hole on the router's back and hold down the reset button inside for 10 seconds.

  • How do I connect two routers on my home network?

    Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the new router's WAN/uplink port, then plug the other end into any free port on the first router other than its uplink port. You can connect two routers wirelessly, but the second router will only function as a wireless access point.

  • Can I use a router without a modem?

    Yes. As long as you're connected to a router's wireless network, you can send data to printers, external drives, and other devices. To use the internet, you need a modem and an internet service provider (ISP).

  • Why won't my modem connect to the internet?

    Possible reasons why your modem isn't working include loose coax connections, damaged Ethernet cables, and outdated firmware. If you can't connect to Wi-Fi, there's probably an issue with your router. If you can connect to Wi-Fi, but you still don't have internet, then you need to troubleshoot your modem.

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