Kicking it up - Moving From Dial-up to Cable
If you’ve got a cable provider for your TV, chances are the cable company has offered you a package deal to include access to the Internet and possibly even telephone all on one bill. Along with the “blazing fast speed” promised by those high-speed services comes the increased risk of downloaded viruses and malware that has been designed to search across the Internet, looking for vulnerable computers—without proper protection, your computer can get infected, even if you never click on a bad link or open an infected email attachment.
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Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do their own cable modem installation and setup. There are significant safety risks involved if the equipment is not properly grounded, and they want to ensure that you have equipment that is compatible and configured to work with their network. Check with your ISP before you decide to try to save a little money by buying and setting up a router yourself, because they may have a flat fee whether or not you let them do the installation and setup. Also, doing it yourself may have an impact on future technical support options. If you ever have any trouble with your cable connection in the future, you may find that there is very limited support from your ISP if they did not provide and install the modem.
What is the Difference Between a Router and a Modem?
First, a bit of clarification about the terms “router” and “modem.” Strictly speaking, a modem is a relatively simple communication device that allows data to be transmitted between devices that speak the same language, and usually refers to the first piece of communication equipment that accepts the signal coming into your home or office. A router does a little more work, and can be thought of as the traffic cop at an intersection, who decides which cars are allowed to pass through and which ones need to be directed to turn back or take a different route to get to their destination. Because the two functions are usually combined in one device, the terms are often used interchangeably.
Every router is different, but they all have some common features. Here’s the basics that should get you connected with most manufacturer’s cable modems/routers.
In order to connect with your computer, you may need to install new driver software that is designed for the specific router. These should be provided on a CD that comes with the router, or you may be able to download them from the router manufacturer’s website.
If you think there’s a problem with the cable service coming into the house, here’s what you’ll need before you call your ISP. Also, if you change out the cable modem after your initial service is installed, you may need to contact your ISP to let them know this information has changed, so they can update their service records to recognize your new device. This information is usually found on a label at the bottom or back of the unit.
- The make and model number of the cable modem
- The serial number of the modem,
- The Media Access Control (MAC) address or Ethernet hardware Address (EHA). The router will have a 12-character number usually formatted in pairs separated by colons or dashes like this: 01:a3:4f:67:c9:09. These numbers are used to provide a unique identity to your router, and help to identify the manufacturer and model of the device.
With the computer disconnected, connect the power cable to the cable box before plugging the other end in to the AC power source. Be sure to use the power cable provided with the cable modem.
Connect the coaxial cable provided with the cable modem to the jack in the wall where the cable enters the room, and the other end to the cable connector on the cable modem, usually labeled “Cable In.” There should be a light (usually labeled “Cable Link” or “online”) on the front of the unit to indicate the status of the cable signal to the modem. This light may blink for a few minutes as the connection is established, and should turn on steady or turn green after a few minutes to indicate that the cable modem has established a connection to the incoming cable signal. If you don’t have this indication, you should contact your ISP for further support.
Note that if you are planning to connect other equipment such as a VCR or your “cable ready” TV—any TV that can be connected directly to the cable outlet without requiring a set-top cable box—to the same outlet as the cable modem, you will also need a cable splitter.
If you have one of the newer “all in one” cable modems, you will be able to hook up telephones into the phone jacks, and your computer(s) can be plugged into the USB or Ethernet ports, also called RJ45 ports. Note: Do not connect one computer to both the USB and Ethernet ports. Depending on the make & model of your cable modem, you may also be able to configure a wireless access point, but you will normally need to use a physical (USB/Ethernet) connection to set everything up, and then you can connect wirelessly once you have the wireless network properly configured and secured.
If your cable modem is not one of those with everything but the kitchen sink included, or if you have additional computers to connect, you will need to purchase a separate router or hub, which will plug into the cable modem with an Ethernet cable, and then the computers can be plugged into the router. The router should come with the appropriate cables.
It’s important to understand that because your internet connection via cable is “always on,” there is malware out there on the web that has the sole purpose of looking for computers that are vulnerable to their attacks. Once they find a computer that “has the doors open” so to speak, the intruders will sneak in and find a quiet corner to hide out and then invite all their buddies in to wreak havoc on your system. Here’s where Support.com can help you configure your firewall and network settings for maximum security. We’ll make sure that all the bolts are tight and the doors and windows open and close correctly.
Ready to set up the rest of your network? Give Support.com a click or a call for help with any of the following:
- Linksys® Router Setup
- Negear® Router setup
- Netgear Wireless Router Setup
- DLink Router Setup
- Belkin Router Setup
- Ambit Router Setup
- Arris Router Setup
- Ericsson Router Setup
- EZ Connect Setup
- Motorola Router Setup
- Scientific Atlanta Router Setup
- Thomson/RCA Router Setup
- Toshiba Router Setup
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