Dialup Modems, Broadband Modems and Routers

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This page was written in the days (not so long ago) when the normal method of connecting to the Internet was by a dialup modem. The advent of broadband means that the term Modem now means something very different.  A Broadband modem is now normally supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they come in two main varieties - either for a BT land line type or one for a Cable system (e.g. Virgin Media). See Wikipedia Instead of being inside the computer the Modem is connected to a computer via an Ethernet port (or can be connected to a USB port).  

Broadband modem showing lights
All modern (PC) computers have this socket, which is slightly larger than the socket into which some of the older dialup modems were plugged.

These days the equipment supplied by your ISP will be a Router. router  The Router's job is to sort out connections to several computers that use the same connection to the 'net'.  Routers have a wireless aerial and can be used to connect to from wireless equipment, including wireless printers.  Modern Routers include the Modem. The set up of these pieces of equipment is normally taken care of by software issued to you on disk by your ISP.  If there is a problem it is best to get in touch with them. The one popular technique tried if your broadband modem/router is not making a connection is to reset it by disconnecting the power cable from the back, waiting a few seconds, then replacing that cable. It will not harm it.
All modern laptops, netbooks and "Pads"  or Tablets have internal wireless (Wi-Fi) hardware. Desktops MAY have this but can be made wireless by the addition of a cheap wireless USB 'dongle'. Equipment, such as phones and most tablets do not have a socket to connect by cable to a router (and are therefore dependent on wireless)
The rear of the router looks like this, showing the sockets to which a number of PCs can be attached with inexpensive Ethernet cables router rear view

If your computers are normally close together there is no need to venture into the mysteries of wireless and, in fact, cable connections are less liable to be 'hacked' (got into) from outside and are usually fater than by wireless connection, especially if your device is a long way from the router or there are thick walls, ceilings or metal objects in between.

WIRELESS. Setting up a wireless connection has always been my weakness.  I have printed numerous instructions from the Netgear site and from magazines but have often been frustrated when it comes to connecting equipment such as a laptop, netbook or Kindle. I realise that there are security questions but it is a pity they couldn't make it as simple as attaching a wireless mouse. I was always concerned that resetting in the router attached to my desktop I might lose my internet connection altogether.  NOT SO. The router remains connected regardless of whether the wireless is correctly set up.
An example of resetting a Netgear Router and Password :Hopefully you will find connecting easier than this !

  1.  Poke the reset button on the router (if you can find it)
  2. Click your browser.  The Netgear Smart Wizard setup screen appears.
  3. Wait for it to detect the router and ensure you have an internet connection. Press Next
  4. Select your region.Click Next
  5. Enter the SSID (Service Set IDentifier) It is the name which your network will be called. This one defaulted to NETGEAR. But it will appear somewhere on your router. Click Next.
  6. Agree to Security Features (prevents other people getting in on your connection)  Either the weaker WEP type .WPA-PSK is stronger encryption. Click Next
  7. Under Security Encryption Key enter the passphrase from your router, usually a mixture of numbers and letters (case sensitive). Click Next.
  8. The program now may offer you a default Username (Admin) and Password (On your router this may be 'password 'or 'changeme') These should be changed.  They are case sensitive. Click Next.
  9. It also asks you for a passphrase. See this on your router
  10. Lastly, a Network Summary is displayed and you should print this also. Click Next.
  11. The import set of letters and numbers used to connect to a router is normally the Passphrase printed on that router, unless this has been changed by the owner.  For instance an hotel might have changed it to the name of the hotel plus some other characters. ALWAYS USE THE CASE OF THE LETTERS IN THIS PASSPHRASE. i.e capitals  MUST be capitals.


Wireless connections ?

The usual practice is for your Internet provider (ISP) to provide you with a broadband router when you sign up for broadband services (see my page on this HERE) Although not very expensive for them they will probably want you to sign up for a year and may charge you if you leave during that contract.

In view of the relative cheapness and better speeds of broadband I have now deleted a detailed section which dealt with dialup modems. Dialup is simply not viable any more

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