How to connect to the Internet

Updated: 08/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Collage of Internet-related icons.

Before connecting to the Internet, you must determine the method you want to use. Are you going to be connecting to the Internet using a modem or a broadband Internet connection? Or do you want to use your smartphone to provide Internet service to your computer? Below is additional information about these types of connections and how to utilize them.


If you are reading this page in a web browser on a digital device, you are connected to the Internet.

Connecting to the Internet with a modem

Connecting to the Internet using dial-up (e.g., a 56k modem) is still viable despite the growing use of broadband Internet connections. However, a dial-up connection is much slower. If you plan on doing more than the occasional web surfing or reading and sending e-mail, consider broadband.

Using dial-up to connect to the Internet requires your computer to have an internal or external modem and a home phone line (landline).


Most new computers don't have a modem. If your computer has a modem, it should have an RJ-11 connection (not to be confused with an RJ-45 connection).


A dial-up modem should not be confused with a broadband or cable modem.

Once you have verified you have a modem; you must find an ISP (Internet service provider). In most areas, you can connect to the Internet using a local ISP. Alternatively, you may want to consider a large ISP, such as AOL (America Online) or MSN (Microsoft Network), which provide Internet service in many areas all over the world.


Your ISP should provide instructions on connecting your modem to their Internet service, and troubleshooting support for connectivity issues.

Check your local listings for companies that provide an Internet connection. Also, talk to your friends or family to see whom they like to use as an Internet service provider.

Connect to the Internet with broadband

Wireless broadband modem

Connecting to the Internet using broadband is much faster than a standard 56k modem. Having more bandwidth lets you do more exciting things on the Internet, such as watch movies, listen to music, and play games, and better load times for websites.

Most broadband services are provided by a phone or cable company. Contact your local phone or cable service providers to see if broadband is available in your area.

If broadband service is available in your area, the company can provide the hardware (e.g., cable modem) required to access their service. This hardware usually connects to a Network card (RJ-45 connector) on a computer using a Cat 5 network cable. If your provider does not offer a wireless router, you can purchase a router to share your Internet connection with multiple computers and devices.


Your ISP should provide instructions on connecting your modem to their Internet service, and troubleshooting support for connectivity issues. Some broadband ISP companies send a technician to your home and set up Internet service to your computer.

Connect to the Internet using a smartphone

Apple iPhone

You may also use your smartphone to connect to the Internet by tethering, a process that turns it into a wireless access point.

Configuring your phone and computer for Internet service differs depending on your phone's operating system and manufacturer. Check online for specific instructions for the tethering software and smartphone you are using.

However, not all smartphones are capable of tethering, and not all cell phone carriers allow smartphones on their network to be used for tethering.


Before tethering your smartphone, we recommend contacting the phone carrier to see if it supported and how much they charge.