How to connect to the Internet

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

InternetBefore connecting to the Internet, you must determine how you're going to connect to the Internet. 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 get connected with them.

Note: If you are reading this page on a computer or computing device you are on a computer connected to the Internet.

Connecting to the Internet with a modem

Connecting to the Internet using a computer modem (e.g. 56 K modem) is still a method of getting access to the Internet, despite the growing use of broadband Internet connections. Although connecting to the Internet with a modem can be a cheaper solution, it is a much slower connection. If you plan on doing more than the occasional web surfing and reading and sending e-mail, you should consider broadband. For example, if you want to play games over the Internet, it is recommended that you use a broadband connection instead of a modem.

Using a modem to connect to the Internet requires your computer to have an internal or external modem. You must also have a home phone line (landline).

Note: Not all new computers 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 computer modem should not be confused with a broadband or cable modem.

Once you have verified your computer is compatible with connecting to the Internet, you need to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). 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 with your friends or family to see who they like to use as an Internet Service Provider.

Connect to the Internet with broadband

Wireless broadband modemConnecting to the Internet over broadband is a popular solution for connecting to the Internet today. Broadband is a much faster solution for connecting to the Internet when compared to 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 playing games, as well as much faster load times for websites.

Unfortunately, broadband service is not available in all areas. Therefore, before getting this service, you must first determine if it is available in your area. Most broadband services are provided by your local phone companies or cable companies. Contact your local phone or cable service providers to see if they have broadband service available in your area.

If broadband service is available in your area, the company provides you with the hardware (e.g. cable modem) required to connect to their service. This hardware typically connects to a Network card (RJ-45 connector) or USB connection. If your provider does not offer a wireless router you can purchase and connect a wireless router (shown above) to connect any Wi-Fi to the Internet.

Note: Your ISP should provide you with instructions on connecting your computer to their service, as well as support if you have trouble connecting to or using their Internet service. Some broadband ISP companies will even send a technician to your home and set up Internet service to your computer for you.

Connect to the Internet using a smartphone

Apple iPhoneYou may also be able to use your smartphone as an Internet connection for your computer. Doing so requires you to use tethering software, which allows the smartphone to act as a modem or wireless access point for the computer to use for Internet access.

Configuring the tethering software and the computer to use your smartphone for Internet service differs depending on which tethering software you use, 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. Cell phone carriers that allow tethering may not provide support for tethering. These carriers may also charge an additional fee to tether their smartphone.

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