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Modem & Router
How To Install A Modem & Setup A Router

The setup process for modems and routers is not always easy to understand, hopefully this article will help answer some of your questions.

On This Page: Short Version Long Version Channel Hint

Short Version

(Including a hint that may stop your router from dropping the signal.)

To install a modem is usually just a matter of attaching a co-ax cable, or DSL phone cord, to both the service provider source and the modem, and then calling the service provider to have them match up to recognize the modem.

While installing a modem should be pretty easy, setting up a router for a wireless network of devices is another ball game altogether, because, to put it nicely, the setup process may not be very well documented in the owner’s manual. To put it not so nicely, the manuals that I have read sound to me like they were written by someone with dementia, they forget to mention this and that, like “well, you need to change this”, but they forgot to tell you where to make the change!

The thing that I have found to be most important to remember about setting up a router network is that, in most cases, the router network system will require two sets of IDs/passwords, which can be confusing, it was for me anyway. One is for setting the control panel password, you may not be allowed to change the login ID. Oops, they may not tell you that. The other is setting up a network security name and password. Oops again, they may not tell you where you can make either of these changes. Finding where to make these changes can be challenging, are you up for a challenge? Sure you are, you want a network setup don’t you?

To me, trying to read a router control panel is like trying to read Klingon, I know there is an online Klingon learning institute and dictionary, but that’s a language I never bothered to learn. LOL So, to my mind, there are just five basic things I try to locate when setting up a wireless network using a router, I use the KISS principle. I am sure a geek could think of twenty things, but my goal is just to get it done.

  • Setting the control panel password. (Status / Security)
  • Setting the network name and password. (Wireless / Primary Network)
  • Limiting access to only my devices. (Wireless / Access Control or maybe Advanced / Network Filter)
  • Inputting my e-mail to receive security alerts. (Firewall / Local Log)
  • Change the control channel setting. (Wireless / Radio) (This fix may stop your router from dropping the signal, it's discussed more in the long version.)

(In parentheses is where these might be found in the control panel, it varies by brand.)

For more details see my long version for installing a modem and router, including the huge hint that may stop your wireless signal from fading in and out and dropping off!

(Note: This article is from my notes for setting up our router, it has not been approved by any authoritative representative of any modem or router manufacturer and should not be used as advice. For authoritative advice you should only rely on the manufacturers’ instruction manual for your modem or router installation and setup. (I am trying not to laugh to hard as I write this disclaimer about relying on the factory manual. LOL LOL)

Long Version

Can’t wait for the hint details about router fading and dropping the signal? - Go Here.


To start with the very basics, if you want to access the Internet, you need a connection, a source so that your computer, or whatever, can interpret the signal, you need a modem to modulate the signal. Some electronics, like many Smart cell phones, have a built in modem, but most Internet capable devices require a modem in order to hook-up to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as Charter, Comcast, and ATT&T.

Electronic devices that may require a modem to access the Internet include such as items as most desktop and laptop computers, notebook computers, Blu-ray players, game consoles and some new Smart TVs. A modem is required to convert the signal coming in from an Internet Service Provider to a signal that a computer, or other device, can understand. Blu-ray players, wireless printers, smart TVs and such are normally not connected directly to a modem, but can access the Internet via a router network setup. A modem is used to connect one device to the ISP (Internet Service Provider), a router splits the modem signal to handle multiple devices, so the router creates a network.

For the out-lay of around thirty to a hundred dollars for a modem, you can have the world literally at your finger-tips. Some Internet Service Providers, will offer to sell or rent you a modem and others will allow you to buy your own modem. The big difference is having up-to-date technology, the Internet Service Provider may not have the most current technology. What does it matter? If the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is selling you a certain data transfer speed, but the modem processes at a slower speed, then you will only get the lesser speed. At this writing the newest modem technology is DOCSIS 3.0 with 160mbps downstream and 120 mbps upstream date speeds.

Check your computers speed, here is a speed test web site. Test your Internet connection speed at

A cable modem connects to a cable service’s cable connection, such as Charter Cable. If there is cable TV service involved, there will be a splitter, to split off the Internet signal from the TV signal, and the modem cable will connect to the splitter unit. A telephone modem is connected by a telephone wire to a DSL telephone connection. There is also satellite Internet service, which works basically the same.

To get the Internet signal from the cable or telephone modem to a device, such as a computer, can be done with an ethernet cable, plugged into both the modem and the computer, or a connection can be created wirelessly with a router.

Hooking up a modem is usually as simple as attaching the modem to the Internet Service Provider’s cable or phone wire and also to your computer using an ethernet cable, and then calling the ISP (Internet Service Provider) to give them the model and serial number of the modem unit so they can sync with it.

A number of devices can all be connected to the same modem with a router network, there are wired and wireless router units available. Having a wireless set-up requires that the each electronic device you want to connect to is capable of wireless connecting, and today most devices are Wi-Fi enabled.


A router is a way to connect more than one electronic device to one modem, wired or wirelessly, depending on the router selected. The wireless devices to be connected must be capable of wireless connection with the standardized Wi-Fi technology. A router has an inherent advantage of providing additional firewall security protection to what a computer normally comes with. The newest routers have even better security firewall protection.

A router can be purchased separately from a modem, or they are available as all-in-one modem/router units. Installing a router, that is a separate unit from the modem, is usually just a matter of attaching a coax cable from the modem to the router. All-in-one units, the modem and router combined, are nice because it is just one box and it requires one less cable.

Don’t confuse Wi-Fi capable with a computer’s internal Blue Tooth technology for connecting wirelessly to a keyboard or mouse, they are not the same thing.

There are two main parts to setting up a router network, setting up IDs and passwords and blocking other computers and devices from your network. If other people’s devices connect to your network they will slow down your Internet connection speed and it could present a serious security problem. Seriously I don’t belief a hacker is trying to break into my network, they usually want money (None Here!), but it’s better to be safe than sorry, as they say, so you want to add all the security you can. Technically speaking, just setting up the network password should prevent other devices from accessing a network, but in trying to outwit hackers, there is also the option of restricting a network to only the listed devices in that network using the Media Access Control (MAC) number Filter, not as scary as it sounds. Note, a MAC number is not an abbreviation for a Macintosh computer, it’s a number to identify devices.

As mentioned at the beginning for this article, there are normally two sets of IDs/passwords and the instruction manual may not make this clear.

  • One ID/password is for accessing the management control panel of your router.
  • The second ID/password set is for network security, to protect the network.

Where to start? At the beginning, accessing the control panel. To set the security ID/password and also to block outsiders from your network with a MAC filter, you must first access the management control panel, so the first you need is Internet access. Some new routers have touch button access, where you just push a button on the router and it will automatically pair-up with a computer that is turned on and which has Wi-Fi or Apple’s Airport capabilities. Sometimes the devices will be found by the router without even pushing the button. The router will probably come with a pre-set, or default ID and password, they should be in the owner's manual. On your computer, under your network icon, just look for the default network name/ID (usually the brand name of the router), and just select the network name and put in the default password. You should have wireless Internet!

Now the router control panel can be accessed through a browser window using an Internet browser such as Explorer, Safari, and Firefox.

If the router does not connect properly with a push button (been there, done that), then an ethernet cable connected to a computer and the router will provide direct access to the Internet.

Before you can setup your router, you need to get into the control panel. The router control panel login processes, that I have seen, are accessed via the Internet by putting a set of numbers into a browser search block. The control panel address, used by many routers and entered into the browser text block is, This information should be in the user’s guide.

So rather than putting something in the browser search box like: (Which is a disguise for the actual URL numbers.)

You would put the actual URL numbers, in this case:

Now you can log into the router control panel. The login ID and Password should be in the owner’s manual. It will probably be something like:

ID: admin / Password: admin (Or the password might be the brand name of the router.)

Control panels are not the same from brand to brand, but they are very similar. There will probably be a row of options across the top, these are the primary options and when one of these options is selected a different set of sub-options will appear along one side, usually the left side of the control panel page. In the control panel notes below, the first control option noted will always from the row of options across the top, because the top options determine what the side options will be. Example “Wireless” / “Access Control” - where “Wireless” is the top option and “Access Control” is from the left side set of options.

As mentioned in the short version of this article, I concentrate on five basic steps to setting up a wireless network using a router:

(In parentheses is where these might be found in the control panel, it varies by brand.)

  • Setting the control panel password. (Status / Security)
  • Setting the network name and password. (Wireless / Primary Network)
  • Limiting access to only my devices. (Wireless / Access Control or maybe Advanced / Network Filter)
  • Inputting my e-mail to receive security alerts. (Firewall / Local Log)
  • Change the control channel setting. (Wireless / Radio) (This fix may stop your router from dropping the signal, it's discussed more in the long version.)

Here is a D-Link Router Emulator to play with as you read my notes.

Now for the actual process.

Please remember to click “Apply” after making any changes to a page.

Login through your browser:

When the login page comes up for the router control panel, just enter the default user name and password provided in the instruction manual, usually something simple like, ID: admin and Password: admin. Once you are into the control panel the password can and should be changed, but the ID may not be changeable, it may have to stay “admin”.

Examples of default settings:
Zoom: admin / admin
Motorola: admin / motorola

This control panel login information it is available to everyone with just a quick online search of instruction manuals, so be sure to change the password in the control panel.

1) To change the control panel password:
Status / Security

To change the password, look for a security related page, it will probably be an option in the side panel after selecting something like the “Status” option at the top. After making the change be sure to click “Apply” or the change will not be made. This may be different with various brands, check the instruction manual.

2) To change the Network Name-SSID and Password-WPA Key:
Wireless / Primary Network

I just discussed the control panel login, this is the Network login, the Network Name and Password to access the Internet via your router network.

To change the Network ID/Password look for something like: “Wireless” at the top and after “Wireless” is selected, look for something like “Primary Network” in the side panel. Change Network Name (SSID) to the Network name you would like and change the WPA Pre-Shared Key to the password you would like, be sure the password has a combinations of letters and numbers, maybe some caps and symbols so it would be hard to break, but keep it something you can remember, and be sure to write it down. The “Show Key” (checked) lets you see what you are typing into the password text box as you type, so you don’t make a mistake and block yourself out of your own network, ouch! If you do block yourself out, never fear, there is probably an option to re-set to the factory defaults which will clear all changes. There is probably a reset option in the control panel and/or on the actual router unit, although I tried once and I could only do a reset from the router control panel, I could not get the router box reset to work.

Examples of default Network Name-SSID and Password-WPA Key, so you know what to look for to change them.

Motorola - ID: MOTOROLA-xxxxx and Password: 2537acb4972fgh

Zoom - ID: zoomxxx and Password: xxxx JD20 (Where JD20 are the last four letters of the modem’s cable MAC number and note that capitals must be capitalized.)

I am not giving away any secrets, this information is easily obtained, again that is why you should set up your own Network Name and Password. Be sure to click “Apply after making changes.

3) To change the MAC Filters:
Wireless / Access Control ---------- Options: Disable, Allow, Disallow
Advanced / Network Filter ---------- Options: Turn MAC Filter OFF / Turn MAC Filter ON and “Allow” / Turn MAC Filter ON and “Deny”.

There are normally three Media Access Control or MAC Filter options, disable, allow, and disallow (or deny). From my experience, disable opens the network to any device and so when it is disabled you can discover your own device’s MAC number. Allow tells the router that only the listed MAC device numbers have permission to use the network. Disallow or deny says to “not” allow devices with the specific MAC numbers that you have listed.

To only allow devices with specific MAC numbers to access a network is an obvious way to give added security to a network. To find the “Allow”, "Disable", and "Deny" options look for something like: “Wireless” at the top and when selected, “Access Control” in the side panel. Another arrangement is look for “Advanced” at the top and “Network Filter” in the side panel. It varies by brand. Remember, this MAC Filter is an identity number and is not short for a Macintosh computer.

With both selections made there should be a page with numerous small text boxes to input MAC numbers. To select the filers option look for a button like: “MAC Restrict Mode” with options like: disable, allow, deny. OR Configure MAC Filtering OR ConfigureWebsite Filtering, something along those lines.

Some routers will allow you to clone a device’s MAC number to easily add it to the “Allow” or “Deny” list, which means that with the MAC Filter set to “disabled” the router will see a device that is turned on and you only need to select “clone” it to add it to the Filter list.

Sometimes you may have to manually add MAC numbers. To find the MAC number of a device, using the router control panel, well, it’s probably not in the manual, but with the device turned on and the MAC Filter set to Disabled, look for the MAC number to show up at the bottom of the “Access Control” or “Network Filters” page, or it might be on a separate “Status” / “Wireless” page.

To add a MAC number to the MAC Filter list manually use the format of either “-” (dash) or “:” (colon) between each pair of numbers.

Example: MAC number format:
OR The text boxes may only allow two digits per box and no dashes or colons are needed.

Be sure to click “Apply after making changes.

4) To add e-mail alert: Firewall / Local Log

If your router has an e-mail alert option, this might be a good thing to setup, you probably just need to input your e-mail address to receive security alerts. This option might be in the router control panel at: Firewall / Local Log, or something similar.

5) Dropped Signal Hint!

*The Channel Change Hint*
To Put An End To Dropped Router Signals!

Change the Control Channel setting. (Wireless / Radio - Control Channel)

Drum roll, please! This hint could just make your day!

There are things that can interfere with your wireless signal and cause it to fade in and out and even drop out altogether; your cordless phone can interfere, your microwave oven, and in apartments your neighbor’s routers. I do not know about older routers, but if you have a newer router it may have a “Control Channel” option. This is so cool, you can just switch the channel, like changing a CB radio channel to get away from all the chatter, and viola, a clear signal. If that channel gets crowded, try another channel. Note: When you change to a different channel, with an Apple/Macintosh computer you may need to "Turn Airport Off" and then back on for your computer to recognize the new channel, and there is probably something similar required with a PC.

This channel change worked like a charm for us. We just selected “Wireless” at the top of the router control panel, and “Radio” from the side panel, and on the page that opened, about half way down was a “Control Channel” button with a drop down menu of numbers and we just picked a number at random, and clicked “Apply”. No more dropped signals. How come the hardest problem always seems to have the easiest solution? I’m not going to tell you which channel number we selected, I don’t want everyone coming to our channel - LOL!

Additional Notes

Remember to click “Apply” after making changes to a page in the control panel.

Zoom - IP Flood Protection:

In my online reading of product reviews, I noticed that several people posted comments that with the new Zoom modem/router combo, they felt they needed to uncheck the "IP-Flood-Protection", I don’t know why for sure, but something about not getting knocked off-line, I think. If you chose to follow those who suggested unchecking Flood Protection, then the option is, “Firewall” / “Web Filer” and in the list “IP Flood Protection” Enable, uncheck it.

Motorola Surfboard - Ethernet & Macintosh Comment:

Another tidbit I came across was about the Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 and Macintosh computers. The instruction manual has a strange comment: “System Requirements: MAC 10.4 or later (Ethernet connection only)”. WHAT??? I thought this was a ‘wireless’ router??? Well, the SurfBoard does work wirelessly with Macintosh computers, I was told that the comment in the manual has to do with the install CD and the setup Wizard, which does not seem to like Macintosh computers. I was also told that when setting up a Macintosh computer to ignore the instructions that say to use the number from the bottom of the router in the Setup Wizard. Basically I was told not to use that number or the setup Wizard with Macs. It sounds to me like it may require a manual setup for a Macintosh computer with a SurfBoard router, like in my notes in this article.

If you have problems setting up your modem or router don’t be brave, just call, most modem and router companies have excellent customer service departments. Very refreshing in today's world!

To me, the MAC Filters on our old router were very hard to find, I am noting it so you realize some things are not obvious. What we had was the “Advanced” option along the top and then the “Filter” option along the left side (done in that order). Then at the filters page, there was just a vague “MAC Filter” button. When the “MAC Filter” was clicked it opened up a new area with text blocks and the options to either disable, allow, disallow. This was tricky, because you didn’t know they were there unless you clicked the Mac Filter button. When “disabled” was selected (again not obvious) it is possible to see the MAC numbers for the our computers. The the MAC numbers could be ‘cloned” and added to the allow list, again not obvious. Then the MAC Filter can be switched to allow, so only those devices’ MAC numbers that we had listed, or cloned, were allowed to connect to our network. When finished the “Apply” button must be clicked to apply any changes.

Some Final Notes

When buying a modem or router, check out web sites such as Amazon and Best Buy, their web sites have customer opinions at the bottom of the product page and these posts often include tips and tricks that other people have discovered about products.

The instruction manual that comes with a modem or router may be paper and/or a CD, but if you lose the instructions most brands have the manuals available online at their web sites, such as:



Other sources

What is a Modem?

Types of modem service?

What is a MAC address?

More detailed discussion of Routers.
PC Magazine

Securing Your Wireless Router and Bluetooth.

What is Blue Tooth?

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