With many of the internet service providers (Comcast, AT&T, etc.) hoping to use their wireless modem to control your “smart” home, having a wired internet setup can be more challenging than it was 5-10 years ago. The following specific steps will help you navigate this process so that you don’t have the privacy, security and health risks associated with the powerful WiFi modems these companies provide.
Step 1: Determine your internet service provider. If it is Comcast, then you can now call to request a basic modem that has no WiFi capabilities. There is a pending class-action lawsuit against their new Xfinity WiFi systems, so they are now giving customers more control over what comes into their homes (I write about the problems with Comcast Xfinity in this article). If your only choice is AT&T, then you are pretty much stuck with their all-in-one modem/router combo. AT&T wants to eventually provide all internet/TV data through cell towers (wirelessly), so they are currently providing very powerful WiFi enabled modems. The good thing is that you can disable the WiFi in an AT&T modem by following the process in this video and then use your own router or Ethernet switch as outlined in the next step.
Step 2: Let’s assume you have Comcast and have called to acquire the basic modem without WiFi (your options are the Arris model TM822R and the Cisco mode DPC3008). You can either rent a modem from Comcast ($10/month) or purchase either of the Arris or Cisco models. You will then need a router to send the data to your computers, tablets and TV. For this, I suggest a Netgear Router model N600 (pictured above), which has an easy On/Off switch for WiFi (keep it off except for rare occasions). You can also get the JRS Eco-WiFi Router, which also has a simple on/off button for WiFi and has a less powerful WiFi signal when on. These routers will allow you to run up to 4 Ethernet cables to different computers and a TV. They will also give you the option for temporary WiFi should you ever need it for a guest. Note that you could simply get this Netgear modem/router combo that integrates with Comcast and has an On/Off button for WiFi. This will also save you the monthly $10 modem rental fee. Also note that if you don’t need any WiFi capability in your home, this simple TRENDnet wired router is a great option.
Step 3: You will now need some Ethernet cables. One short cable (3-5 feet) will go from your Comcast modem to your Netgear or JRS Eco-Router. This will typically be provided by Comcast or within the router box. For Ethernet cables that will go from your router to your laptops, I suggest flat, shielded CAT7 cables that come in 25 or 50 feet. If you need extra distance, here is a 100 foot Ethernet cable that works well. If you need to run additional ethernet cables, here is a basic 4-port Ethernet switch that you can use. Here is an 8-port switch if you have many devices/rooms that you need to connect with Ethernet.
Step 4: Programming your router is very easy. There are basic setup instructions in the box (just a few initial steps) and there is a CD that comes with the router if your computer has a CD drive. The CD will do the installation (or you can download the file) and you will just need to set a password for your home network.
Step 5: For PC computers and TV’s, you can simply plug the Ethernet cables into the devices. If you use Apple computers and tablets, you will need an adapter to get the Ethernet to your Macbook Air or iPad. The best option is the Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. Just make sure your device has a Thunderbolt port. If not, then get a USB to Ethernet adapter. You can also get this extra USB port with an Ethernet adapter. Here is a basic ethernet adapter for Windows. It is now also possible to wire an iPad and iPhone, which I outline in this article.
Step 6: Now that you have wired internet in your home, there are just a couple things left to do. You will want to turn off the WiFi and Bluetooth functions on your laptop (turning off the Airport for Macs and putting PCs in airplane mode). This will keep it from radiating and searching for a network while you work on the device. I also suggest that you get an external keyboard and mouse, such as this one, so that you are not directly contacting your computer all day while you work. This will help you from feeling drained while working on the computer.
Hopefully these steps will will help you easily make your home much healthier for you and your family!
Also, if you have had experiences with different internet providers across the country, feel free to share below.
This article was updated March 2019.