How to Order and Install Internet Service

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Last Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Internet Setup

You’ve done your research and you’re ready to get set up with your new internet service provider (ISP). After choosing a plan, the final step is to actually order and install service.

How to Order Internet Service

There are three ways to order internet service: over the phone, online, and in person. Depending on how quickly you want to move through the process, each method comes with its own set of advantages and steps you need to take.

Over the Phone

Ordering internet service over the phone is the most common and easiest way people get connected. The reason is that it’s often unclear exactly which packages are available at your address and whether or not professional installation is required. Major providers like AT&T Internet and Xfinity list phone numbers on their websites for you to call and order. When you order internet service on the phone, you can expect a follow-up email with a contract to confirm your order. With month-to-month internet plans, the contract is often less formal and included when you create a customer account.


Ordering online has become increasingly popular, especially for providers like Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier. The main advantage of this method is that you can pick exactly which plan you want on the provider website and avoid talking to a sales person before you’ve chosen the product. However, some providers will require you to call them after you place an order. In these cases, the only purpose the online order serves is to record your name and address with proper spelling. In most cases, you have to confirm the purchase with a live person on the phone before they’ll schedule an installation or turn on the service.

In Person

Buying internet service in person is an option, assuming you’re in an area that has a storefront for the provider you want. Not all providers have physical storefronts, and they tend to only be in larger metro areas like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. (Some smaller providers like MetroNet are an exception to this rule.) The advantage of buying in person is that you can talk face-to-face and ask questions about the service with a trained representative. It’s also a good choice if you want to install your own Wi-Fi but don’t want to wait for them to mail the router to you.

How to Install Internet Service

Internet Installation
Be prepared to spend the better part of an afternoon getting internet service installed and Wi-Fi working properly.

There are three ways of getting internet service installed so you can set up you Wi-Fi: professional installation, self-install kits, and self-installation of your own equipment.

Professional Cable Installation

When you schedule a cable installation, the company will have their own unique process and instructions for picking the time and coordinating with the installer. Here are a few general tips that apply across the board:

  1. Schedule at least two hours more time than you’re quoted, in case the installer is late or needs more time to complete the job.
  2. Move large furniture items away from the wall where any TVs will be installed.
  3. Be sure to test and confirm service is working smoothly and meeting the download speed of your plan before the technician leaves.

Self-Install Kit

Self-install kits are an easy way for internet-only customers to avoid installation fees. They aren’t as difficult to use as you might think. You can expect to receive a box that contains:

  • A modem
  • A router
  • Ethernet cables
  • Coaxial cables
  • Step-by-step instructions

In most cases, it’s as simple as plugging in the devices and turning them on. Providers will offer support over the phone if you run into any issues.

Self-Install Your Own Equipment

Customers who use their own modem and router should follow these steps:

  1. Connect modem to coaxial or phone jack.
  2. Plug in modem power cord.
  3. Connect router to modem with ethernet cable.
  4. Plug router power cord into wall socket.
  5. Call the provider tech support number and give them your modem MAC address so they can activate service.

The important part here is that you have the equipment plugged in and ready before calling your provider’s tech support number. They should be able to turn on service using the MAC address to identify your device.

How to Confirm Your Contract

Every provider has a different process for handling service contracts and fees. Many providers currently offer contract-free services, so you only have to agree to basic terms and conditions when making your online account in order to get online.

When you sign up over the phone or online, you can expect to have the contract emailed to you or sign an e-contract through their website. When you sign up in person, they should be able to produce a paper or digital contract on the spot.

Don’t Forget the Satisfaction Guarantee

Last but not least, don’t forget to thoroughly test your internet service right away. The majority of internet providers offer satisfaction guarantees for the first 15 days or so. If you find that the service isn’t quite as good as you like, you can still cancel for free during the agreed-upon period. If you wait a few months, however, you can be stuck with an early termination fee.

Keep in mind that it’s normal for the download speed you get over Wi-Fi to be 15–25 percent lower than the maximum speed the plan offers. This is usually caused by signal degradation over Wi-Fi, and can be remedied by connecting your main computer or streaming TV directly to the router with ethernet. You can also explore mesh networking routers and Wi-Fi extenders to improve connection reliability.

If you encounter any trouble with your Wi-Fi after installing service, learn how to troubleshoot common Wi-Fi issues or how to secure your home network before calling tech support.