How to connect to the Internet

Updated: 08/02/2019 by Computer Hope
Internet

Before connecting to the Internet, you must determine the method you'd like 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 each of these types of connections and how to utilize them.

Note

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, you should consider broadband.

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

Note

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).

Note

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

Once you have verified you have a modem; you need to 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 or MSN, which provide Internet service in many areas all over the world.

Tip

Your ISP should provide you with instructions on how to connect your modem to their Internet service, as well as troubleshooting support for connectivity issues.

Check your local listings for companies that can provide you with 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 allows you to do more exciting things on the Internet, such as watch movies, listen to music, and play games, as well as 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 you with the hardware (e.g., cable modem) required to connect to their service. This hardware usually connects to a Network card (RJ-45 connector). If your provider does not offer a wireless router, you can purchase a router to share your Internet connection with multiple computers and devices.

Note

Your ISP should provide you with instructions on how to connect your computer to their service, as well as support if you have troubleshooting support. Some broadband ISP companies will even 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 allows it to act as a wireless access point for a computer.

Configuring your phone and computer for Internet service differs depending on which operating system your phone uses, as well as the type of phone you have. 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.

Tip

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