So youve decided to get high-speed Internet, congrats! How do you make things happen? Do you let your provider set it up, or should you do things yourself?
SEE ALSO: Local ISP Versus A Big National ISP
Internet Service Provider Basics
An Internet Service Provider, or ISP, is the company that delivers a connection to the Internet. Major ISPs include AT&T, Comcast, TimeWarner and Verizon, but the choices vary depending on where you live.
Furthermore, every ISP offers a variety of packages with different speeds and features, so that you can pay for as much speed as you require for your personal Internet usage.
There are several different means of accessing the Internet. Cable companies deliver high-speed broadband Internet access, through the same wire they use for television. Other ISPs offer DSL broadband via your homes telephone wires. Some companies, including Verizon and AT&T, have begun offering Fiber Optic Internet through wires they install for you, and new companies set up a 4G LTE hotspot in your home.
In every case, a modem is the device serving as a hub for delivering the Internet to your computer, via an Ethernet cable. The ISP makes sure you have the correct modem for the job, and will lease or sell it to you when you sign up for an Internet package. Typically, a technician from a major ISP will install the modem in your home, so that you can plug your computer into the modem and have Internet in your home. The benefit here is that you are guaranteed to have a working connection from the start: If the technician plugs in the modem and something doesnt work, he will fix it.
Alternatively, you can purchase your own compatible modem and hook it up on your own. The modem will come with instructions for connecting to the Internet, and if you have problems you can call your ISP's customer service for help. If things are really bad they may even send out a technician to investigate.
While the ISP will help ensure you have wired access to the Internet, most customers will want to set up a wireless fidelity (WiFi) network. The wireless network relies upon a router, connecting it to the modem and translating the Internet connection into a wireless signal.
Whether your ISP offers to set this up or not depends on the provider. Some ISPs will rent you a combined modem/router, so that your Internet connection goes hand-in-hand with a wireless network, but most will leave you responsible for buying your own router.
If you do provide your own router, you will most likely be responsible for setting up your own network. Windows comes with the Network Setup Wizard to guide you through the process, while Mac has its Airport Utility and Network settings in System Preferences. Learn a bit about data encryption and different forms of network security before you get started.
SEE ALSO: Secrets To Finding Free WiFi Hotspots
Convenience Vs. Control
The decision of whether to set up your own network comes down to your desired involvement. If you want to be in charge of your network settings and primed to make changes as you see fit, set up your own network.
But if you dont want to worry about the details of things, and are willing to ask your provider for help if something goes wrong later, having your provider set up the network might be the best route.