Beginner’s guide to making your home Wi-Fi ready

Sep 20, 2016

The internet has become a vital part of our everyday lives, with everything from phones to TVs connected wirelessly.

But, if you’re new to technology or going wireless for the first time (or just moving and need a refresher), then setting everything up can be intimidating.

There’s nothing to fear, though.

Just follow our simple, step-by-step guide, and you’ll be online with Wi-Fi in no time.

Why you’ll want a Wi-Fi network for your home internet

Wireless home internet, more commonly known as “Wi-Fi” (which itself is short for “Wireless Fidelity”), is the same home network you’ve always loved, now just untethered.

That’s because it lets you enjoy the internet without plugging a cord into your machine.

It also allows you to have more devices on your home network at the same time, since you’re no longer limited by the physical number of ports on your network equipment.

A home Wi-Fi network makes for a more interconnected house. It lets your smart devices (such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets) talk with each other more easily. On top of that, it also lets you interact with any smart home devices (such as smart locks, or a smart lighting system) that you may have installed in your house in the most convenient way possible – from afar, and whenever you want.

How to connect your Wi-Fi internet yourself  

Order internet service from a provider

First things first, make sure your home has internet coming into it. No matter how much you plug in things on your end, if there’s no information coming in, then there’s going to be no internet for you.

So, be sure you’ve ordered internet from a provider before you start this process so you can get online as soon as possible. And if you need some advice and assistance ordering your cable, DSL, satellite, fiber, or dial-up internet connection, then we are here to help.

We’ve already done all the research and heavy lifting for you. You just need to make the final call (or final click) to get connected to the internet service provider of your choice. Simply enter your address in the box at the top of the page, and we’ll bring back a list of all the home internet providers and plans that service your area. We’d even be glad to help you choose one that works best to handle all your wireless home internet needs – all for free.

Get a modem

If you’re getting connected to the web from either a cable, DSL, satellite, or fiber internet service provider, then you’ll need a few pieces of equipment to get online.

And the most important of those is the internet modem.

Here’s why – a modem translates the data signal from your network port and makes it into something that your computers and devices can use to communicate information as well.

Wi-Fi is the same internet network you’ve always loved, now just untethered.

Essentially, your modem plugs into whatever type of data infrastructure you have — cable, telephone, satellite, or fiber — and communicates with your internet service provider’s network. Each modem is a little different, as far as receiving the signal goes, but each one gives you a standard Ethernet cable output (the standard internet plug), which you can then plug into any single computer to create an internet connection. If you have just a modem, you’ll be able to connect just one Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, to the internet. But, if you want to hook up more than one device to the internet, then you will also need a router, one that’s either wired or wireless.

Get a router

Whether you’ve decided to buy your own router or to rent one from your internet service provider, you’ll need this vital piece of equipment if you’d like to get online with more than one device at a time.

That’s because the router takes the internet connection from your modem and broadcasts it across your home network – either wirelessly (by hosting a Wi-Fi network) or through (a limited number of) physical cords making wired connections.

This allows any number of devices to connect to your internet network.

And if you have a wireless internet router, then instead of having to plug all your devices into a wired router, your wireless router distributes your internet connection throughout your home, and you simply let them communicate with each other, and the internet, over the airwaves – wirelessly.

Connect the equipment – both to each other and to the internet service provider’s network

Now that you’ve gathered all the important pieces, it’s time to physically connect them together to make the magic of the internet happen right in your living room.

First, take the cord from the ISP and plug it into your modem.

This could be either the cable company’s coaxial cable, the telephone company’s DSL phone line, the satellite company’s data line, or the fiber optic company’s data line.

Second, take the provided Ethernet cable (which looks like a thicker version of the phone cord) and plug it into both your internet modem and your wireless router.

Third, take power cords of both devices, plug them into the devices, and then plug them into the wall outlets (in that order). If you have a surge protector, this would be a great time to use it.

Fourth, flip the power switches and turn everything on. Let the modem and router calibrate themselves and communicate with each other for a few minutes. As they do this, you’ll see the lights on both devices flicker back and forth for a little while, which means they’re busy bringing the internet into your home.

Set up your wireless (Wi-Fi) network through your router’s web interface

Now that everything is all plugged in, connected, and buzzing with data communications, you should be able to open up the router’s web interface. It’s essentially a pre-internet portal that allows you to create, change, and maintain your home’s wireless network. Here’s how to do it:

  • First, grab the router’s manual (or look on the device’s underside) and grab the router’s default IP address and default log-in information. (You’ll see both of these pieces of information prominently labeled as such).
  • Next, open up a web browser. (Popular ones include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari.) Type in the characters of that web (IP) address you’d just located, and it’ll open up the web interface.
  • Finally, use the set-up wizard to walk through the process of giving the router all the vital information it needs to make the internet happen. From here, you can also click around the menus and change a few of your new Wi-Fi network’s settings. These include its log-in password (to keep your Wi-Fi secure) and its network name (feel free to make it your own).

After you complete the setup process, the router itself then receives a single public Internet Protocol (IP) address on the web. Servers on the backend of the internet communicate with your router, and the router transmits that information traffic to the appropriate devices on your home network.

Surf away!

And that’s it — you’ve set up your Wi-Fi network! By now, you should be online and ready to enjoy all of the world from the comfort of your home. And to make sure you’re getting all the speed you’re paying for, perform a speed test of your brand new home network.

If you’re having any troubles that leave you wondering why you’re not getting an internet connection, be sure to call up your internet service provider and let them know. They’ll be more than happy to help you resolve the issue to that you can enjoy all the wonders of the web wirelessly.