How to Setup & Activate a Modem for any Internet Service Provider

How to Setup & Activate a Modem for any Internet Service Provider

We all love the best performance at the right price. I for one love value for money. That is what your own modem gives you rather than depending on the rental modem. However, how can you configure, setup & activate a modem for any internet service provider?

You’ve had your new modem for a while now, but you have no idea how to use it! Well, don’t worry. Here are some easy steps that will show you how to set up and activate your modem for any internet service provider (ISP).

  • First, make sure that the power cable is plugged into the back of the modem.
  • Next, plug one end of your Ethernet cable into an open port on the back of the modem and plug the other end into your computer.
  • Now that your modem is set up and all of its lights are green, it’s time to call your ISP to activate it.
  • If they ask you for a MAC address or serial number, write down what they say; you’ll need this information in order to get your internet activated.
  • Finally, follow your ISP’s instructions on how to activate or register with them.

Setting up the modem ensures that you eliminate the monthly rental fees. Moreover, you get a choice of the modem that will give you the best service. Furthermore, you can easily configure the modem to suit your needs.

Getting a modem for your internet provider is a big step towards living life in the digital age. If you are just signing up with an ISP, then this article will show you how to set up and activate the new modem that will give you access to faster internet speeds.

To get the best modem for your home, you can choose between a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, or a DSL modem for your home or office. Once you have chosen the best modem, you can do the setup and activate it using the following 5 easy to implement steps:

How to setup and activate your own modem

The Modem Installation Process

The installation process for a modem is relatively simple. You will need to find the best place to place your modem and then you can plug it in. After that, you will need to connect an ethernet cable from the modem to your computer and then call your internet service provider for activation.

1. Get the requirements ready such as your modem info

The first step before replacing the modem is to have all the requirements ready. This means you need to have:

  • The replacement modem ready together with the connection cables and power cable
  • Modem information that you will use to setup and activate the new modem. This information includes the MAC Address (MAC ID), Serial number, and Your Internet Provider’s Account ID.

How to get the modem information for setup and activation of the replacement modem

Getting the modem information is important for the setup and activation of the modem. You will need this information in the steps that follow:

Setup & Activate a Modem for any ISP
Mac address:

A MAC address, or media access control address, is a unique identifier assigned to a network interface controller (NIC) by the manufacturer. Every NIC has a unique MAC address that is used to identify it on a network.

Thus, every modem has its own MAC ID. When activating your modem, your ISP will definitely require that you serve them with a unique ID. The MAC address is the unique identifier that your modem uses to identify itself and connect to the internet.

It can be found on a sticker on the back of your modem. In some modems, especially those with a phone jack or modem router, you may find that they have a number of MAC addresses. In these instances, for connection to the internet, you need the MAC or CMAC (Cable) ID.

For modems with a phone jack, they will also have an eMTA MAC ID while the modem router will have a WLAN MAC ID.

Serial Number (S/N):

A modem’s Serial Number is a unique number that allows your ISP to activate your modem. If you’re not sure where to find the serial number, it’s on the bottom of the modem and should start with a “W” or “T”.

Some ISPs may require the modem’s serial number before they will activate the device. For some internet service providers, the MAC ID is adequate to activate your modem.

You will find the Serial Number typed in the same sticker as the MAC address. It is labeled as S/N, Serial, or SN depending on the modem you are using.

Your ISP account number:

If they ask you for a MAC address or serial number, write down what they say; you’ll need this information in order to get your internet activated. Once your modem is set up and all of its lights are green, it’s time to call your ISP to activate it, most of the time using your ISP account number.

The ISP unique account ID is what the provider uses to know the connection. It is used for billing and allocating the internet plan for your home or office.

Thus, you can get it one email, or physical billing statement. However, some of the ISPs will be able to identify your connection using your name, address, and your social details.

However, it is important to have the account ID ready in case they need it to activate your modem.

How is an ISP able to identify a subscriber?

One way ISPs identify their subscribers is through the use of a MAC address. This unique number is assigned to a subscriber when they sign up with their ISP and is permanently linked to the subscriber’s account. It is the same for all of their devices, even if they change them. The MAC address helps ISPs find out who belongs to that account and what services they are using.

2. Disconnect Current modem

For the original modem/ ISP-provided modem, when you get a new subscription, they will send a technician to connect the modem for you. However, since you are changing the modem, the ISP may not send a technician.

However, the process is a bit easy. You will need to know the different ports available on the modem:

  • Power port: The modem will have a power port that you will connect the power cable to the modem and the other end to the power outlet. Some modems power cable may be permanently connected to the modem while others have a power port.
  • Ethernet port: A modem will have an Ethernet port where you connect the modem to the router or other wired devices. The port may be one or several depending on the modem. Furthermore, some modems will have fast Ethernet ports while others will have gigabit Ethernet ports.
  • Coaxial cable port or DSL line port: Depending on your connection, the modem will have a Coaxial cable port or a DSL line port. These are for cable modems and DSL modems respectively.
  • USB port: Some modems will connect to the computer and storage devices using a USB port. Thus depending on the type of connection, your modem will have either or both of USB port and Ethernet cable.

Thus you will need to disconnect the current modem from the power source and then remove the coaxial cable or DSL cable from the connection. You will also need to remove the Ethernet cable from the current modem.

3. Connect New Modem

If you’ve just received a new modem, the first thing you need to do is set it up. Below are the steps for how to connect a new modem.

First, make sure that the power cable is plugged into the back of the modem. Next, plug one end of your Ethernet cable into an open port on the back of the modem and plug the other end into your computer.

Thus the process is a bit easy. However, before you can access the internet, you need to carry out the following steps. The steps are important as you do the setup and activate the modem.

How to activate a modem

4. Check if your modem has Internet Access

After the modem is set up and activated, you’ll want to check if the modem has internet. There are two ways to do this:

Check the lights on the front of the modem. If they’re green, it means that your internet is connected. Most modems have 5 indicator lights. The lights are used to check the connection and also for troubleshooting. The following are the 5 common lights:

How to set up and activate a modem- The modem indicator lights

When you power the modem, the whole set of indicator lights blinks. However, they all go dark except the power indicator light as shown above.

Once the modem is powered, the other lights start blinking one by one or several at once. The light will then become solid. The light will turn solid green if the modem has no icons but uses light only.

The internet (Online) indicator light will become solid when you get a stable internet connection. In this case, you will find a solid green light if the modem has lights instead of icons.

Now that your modem is set up and all of its lights are green, it’s time to call your ISP to activate it. If they ask you for a MAC address or serial number, write down what they say; you’ll need this information in order to get your internet activated. Finally, follow your ISP’s instructions on how to activate or register with them as indicated below.

It is important to note that a blinking color or amber/ red color indicates there is no connection. Therefore, you need to restart the modem. If after restarting the lights are not stable (solid green), you may consider resetting the modem by long-pressing the reset button using a pin.

5. Activate your new modem

Once your modem is set up, it’s time to call your ISP (internet service provider) and activate it. If they ask for a MAC address or serial number, write down what they say; this information may be needed for activating the internet. Once you’ve activated, you’re able to access the internet

Once you have a stable connection, you need to activate the modem. This may be the case for most but not all ISPs. To activate, you can either visit their website or you can call the ISP.

To activate the modem, you will require the activation information that we noted down earlier. The information will be provided on the call or on the web activation page for your ISP.

How to Activate/Register with your ISP

Once you have your modem set up and activated, you will need to register it with your ISP. There are several ways to do this:

  • Call your ISP and provide the MAC address or serial number they requested (step 4).
  • Visit the website of your ISP, log in, and go to their “self-install” section. Follow the instructions on how to activate/register with them.
  • If you have a newer model that has a built-in modem, there should be an activation button on the screen when you boot up the device. Simply follow the instructions on screen.

The tables below give details of how to activate your modem for different ISPs:

ProviderModem activation procedure
Spectrum (Time Warner)Visit the Self Install Webpage
XFINITY / ComcastVisit the Activation Webpage
Verizon FIOSThe modem does self-activation
Cox CommunicationsVisit the Activation Webpage
Optimum / CablevisionVisit the Self Install Webpage
WOW!The modem does self-activation
Suddenlink CommunicationsThe modem does self-activation
MediacomVisit the Activation Website
RCNCall 1-800-RING-RCN (1-800-746-4726)
Cable ONECall 877-692-2253
Wave BroadbandCall 1-866-WAVE-123
Other ISPsSearch for: YOURINTERNETPROVIDER modem activation

Connect your router

Once you have done the setup and have activated the modem, you can now access the internet. You can connect a computer to the internet using the Ethernet cable on your modem.

When you can access the internet on your computer, it is time to connect the modem to the Wi-Fi router. This is done for the modems which do not have a built-in router.

To connect, use an Ethernet cable to connect. One end of the Ethernet cable should be connected to the Ethernet port on the modem and the other on the router.

For a modem with a built-in router, you can use the default admin details to connect the router to the network. The details include the username (wireless network name- ESSID) and the password.

You will be able to find the details printed at the back of your router.

6. Return your rental modem equipment

Once you have done the setup and have been able to activate the modem, it is time to return the rental modem. This will in effect reduce the internet subscription bill since most ISPs charge a monthly fee for using the rental modem.

Most of the ISPs will give you an option of shipping or dropping the rental modem at the local office. You will thus return the rental modem using the method prescribed.

However, we recommend dropping the modem at the local office. This will ensure that you get a document to show that you have returned the modem. The receipt enables you to avoid cases of lost equipment during shipping. In addition, you can use the receipt to claim your money if the provider still charges you the monthly rental bill.

Provider return addresses

For the providers, you can use the following method to return the rental modem:

Internet Service ProviderHow to return the rental modem
XFINITY / Comcast InternetDrop off at local UPS store or Comcast / Xfinity
Time Warner / Spectrum InternetDrop off at local Spectrum store or FedEx
Verizon FIOS InternetShip or drop off via UPS
Cox CommunicationsDrop off at local Cox store w/ Product Drop Off
Optimum / Cablevision InternetShip by mail or drop off at local Optimum store
WOW! InternetDrop off at a local WOW! store
Mediacom InternetDrop off at local Mediacom store
Suddenlink CommunicationsDrop off at local Suddenlink store
RCN InternetDrop off at local UPS store or RCN store
Cable ONE InternetDrop off at local Cable ONE store
Wave Broadband internetDrop off at local Wave store or call 1-866-928-3123 for pickup
Other ISPsSearch for: “YOURINTERNETPROVIDER” modem return

6. Confirm that you are not charged for the rental modem in the next billing statement

Once you are through with the activation and return, you should get a discount on the following month’s internet bill. However, sometimes, the ISP may still continue charging you the rental fees.

Therefore, check at the end of the month to ensure you are not charged for the rental modem. If you are still charged, then contact the ISP to ensure this is corrected. Since you have proof of return, they should be able to correct the bill in the next month.

However, it is still important for you to check the following month’s bill as well.

Why should I use my own modem instead of rental modem

There are several reasons to get your own modem. These are the reasons for getting your own modem instead of using the rental modem:


Most of the ISPs charge a monthly rental fee for the modem. The amount may vary from one provider to the other and depending on the modem given. The cost ranges between $5 and $20.

Getting your own modem saves this rental fee. This is because modems last for long. Thus getting a modem at the current prices will enable you to save the rental fees in the long run.

The money can be used to get better equipment at home. They include a gaming Ethernet cable, a Wi-Fi extender, or a router among others.

Decision making for better choices

Once you choose your own modem, you will be able to make better decisions. You can work with the specifications that you want in your modem.

For example, you will have the chance to choose a modem with a phone jack or with 4 Ethernet ports. This is in addition to being able to choose the specifications that matter to you.

Some of the specifications include DOCIS, channel bonding, modem with built-in Wi-Fi router among others. These will make the use of the internet at your home better.

Therefore, with your own modem, you will be able to choose one that suits your needs. This will ensure that you don’t pay for a service that you are not happy with.

Choice on specifications

Some people would want a separate modem or a gateway. This may not be a choice given by your ISP. Thus when you get your own modem, you will be able to get a device that suits you.

Getting a separate modem or modem router has its own advantages and disadvantages. You will need to explore the pros and cons of a modem router combo as you make the choice.

Compatibility with different ISPs

A rental modem may be locked such that it does not work with different ISPs. This may be limiting since you may move or have access to more than one ISP.

Therefore, when you choose your won modem, you will get a chance to choose a device that is compatible with different ISPs. This will make your work easier when you want to change the ISP.

Set up & activate modem FAQs

How do I activate my spectrum WiFi?

You can activate your Spectrum WiFi by opening up a browser on your computer or smartphone. You should then go to (or input this web address manually). On the next screen, enter either your primary contact number or your account number if need be and select Get Started!
You can also call 844-824-7222 from either device if you prefer speaking with someone over typing it out yourself!

How do I know if my Spectrum modem is activated?

Once the modem has connected to your network, you will know it is activated when its online status light switches from blinking or off state into a solid one. After you connect it properly with a cable or fiber from an internet service provider (ISP), this usually takes about two to five minutes.

How do I activate the Xfinity internet modem?

Activating your Xfinity Gateway or Modem is easy. Simply follow these steps:
1.) Connect to the temporary Internet connection you’ve set up 2.) Open a web browser and go to 3.) Follow all on-screen prompts 4) Your gateway will be activated. To check if your modem is activated, wait for the online status light on its front panel to become solid.

Is it hard to install Xfinity Internet yourself?

It is not hard to activate your Xfinity internet. However, the process takes up to 30 minutes. To activate your Xfinity Gateway or modem, you can go to and follow the on-screen prompts. This will allow you to verify your account and complete the process of activation
Once a temporary Internet connection is established via Comcast’s modem, open any browser such as Chrome or Firefox and log in at You’ll be prompted with what appears like an email verification page; this isn’t spam but it does require confirmation for security purposes before proceeding further into setup. All that’s left after this step is entering billing information (if not part of the already existing package) followed by finalizing the setup.


Using your own modem or router combo will help you save on the monthly internet bill. You will also be able to get a device that will serve you well with the current ISP and other ISPs.

However, as shown above, you will need to do a setup and activate the modem before use. As discussed, the process is simple and straightforward. It will result in a better connection every time you use the internet at home or in the office.

A lot of people make the mistake of not reading the instructions, but luckily for you, we’ve got all you need to know here. From connecting the cable jack and telephone line to installing the device. And since most of us think that replacing a modem is daunting, most of us are stuck with low quality or costly monthly rental fees.

However, replacing your modem is easy and rewarding!