Wireless Service

Step-by-Step Guide to Activating a Spectrum Modem

By
Kyle Reyes
October 25, 2022

Spectrum internet charges a crisp $50 for a professional to come out and install your internet. That’s not cheap! If you’ve decided to get Spectrum internet it is wise to opt for a self-installation instead of hiring a professional. This guide will cover every step of the self-installation so you can run your new internet in no time! 

How to Activate Your Spectrum Modem

Once you’ve chosen Spectrum as your internet, you can decide between getting a professional to install it or getting a self-installation kit. The customer self-installation kit is completely free and will ship directly to your door. If you’ve already signed up for your internet, you can contact Spectrum’s customer service and have one shipped to you.

Here’s a quick rundown of the self-installation kit’s contents:

  • Welcome guide and instructions
  • Cable modem
  • Power Cable (x2)
  • Wi-Fi router
  • Coaxial cable
  • Ethernet cable

If your kit is missing any of those items be sure to give their customer service a call! If you’ve got everything mentioned above then you are good to get your installation started! 

Step by Step Installation instructions

There are four major steps to installing your Spectrum modem, and this section will cover each one in detail. For those who know a thing or two about this process, here is a quick list of everything you need to do:

  1. Connect your modem with coax cable and power cord
  2. Connect Wi-Fi router to your modem
  3. Power Wi-Fi router 
  4. Connect a device to your wireless network and activate the network 

If any of those steps sound confusing, the following sections will explain installing your Spectrum modem in further detail! 

Connect Modem

Using your coax cable, find a cable outlet and connect one side there. Take the other side of your coax cable and plug it into your modem. If you are also receiving TV service from Spectrum you will need a coax splitter, but if not then you don’t need to worry about it! 

Connect your power cord to the modem and a convenient outlet in the wall. From here, wait for the “online” status light on the front of the modem to turn from flashing to solid. This generally takes less than five minutes, but it can take up to twenty. If it is taking a long time (over 10 minutes or so) your modem may be updating to a new firmware. The extra time is the update, so when it turns into a solid light you know it’s updated and ready to go! 

Connect Wi-Fi Router to Your Modem

First, get your Ethernet cable and connect it to your modem and your Wi-Fi router. At some point in this process, you should think about where to put your modem and router. If you haven’t decided yet, read on for some insight into where you should set up your modem-router combo! 

After connecting the two items with the Ethernet cable, connect the second power cord to your Wi-Fi router and an electrical outlet. The Wi-Fi status light, at this point, should be flashing. Wait until it turns solid green. This generally takes around 10 minutes. If no light turns on, press the power button on the back of the router. If you’ve still got nothing, remove the power cord from both ends, wait a bit, and plug it back in! For further troubleshooting make sure the outlet is working, and if it is, contact Spectrum customer service for assistance, as there may be a problem with the power cord or your router. 

Connect a Device to Your New Wireless Network

Every Spectrum router comes with a Wi-Fi name and password, which can be found on the equipment label on the back of your router. This router comes with both a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz network. 

What’s the difference between a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz network, you ask? A 5 GHz network is more concentrated, meaning it is faster but has a shorter wireless range. The range usually hits about 50 feet (or 15 meters).  Your 2.4 GHz has a lower maximum speed but extends further, generally around 150 feet (or 45 meters). 

So, depending on your proximity to the router you can choose which one works best! For smartphones and tablets that go all around the house, we recommend the 2.4 GHz network so your coverage is stable all throughout your home. 

After you choose your network, you’ll be prompted to enter the password that’s on the back of your Spectrum router. The password is the same for both networks. From here, you should get directed to a site where you can activate your Spectrum modem! When you open your internet browser you should be immediately directed to their activation site. If you are not immediately directed to their activation site, it is spectrum.net/selfinstall. You are also able to activate your services through their Spectrum App. 

To DIY or not to DIY

While it is relatively pain-free to self-install your Spectrum services, it is definitely more convenient to opt for professional installation. Their installation costs $50 and one of their employees will arrive at your house and set up your internet from beginning to end. You won’t have to worry about making any mistakes or any possible problems with the hardware because the professional has it covered! All you need to do beforehand is pick out the place where you want to have it installed and move any furniture out of the way.

Spectrum Internet Plans

Finding the right internet plan allows you and all your family members to access the highest speeds at all times. This is especially important now, because of how many devices there are in a home! 

Spectrum offers three internet plans at different speeds. It is easy to switch between them month-to-month if you notice that your speeds are too fast or too slow. 

  • Spectrum Internet — 100 Mbps download. $50 a month
  • Spectrum Internet Ultra — 400 Mbps download. $70 a month
  • Spectrum Internet Gig — 940 Mbps download. $110 a month

Those three plans offer a huge variety of speeds that can suit just about any household! Let’s start with the basics. 

Mega Bits Per Second

One sneaky secret of internet providers is that they measure their speeds in megabits per second, not megabytes per second. That translates roughly to this — if you are downloading a game, for instance, with 100 Mbps internet your download speeds will max at around 12.5 MB per second. That is still very fast, but it is important to keep in mind that the speeds you see in the shop are not the download speeds you’ll see at home! 

Spectrum Internet

One hundred Mbps download is a significant amount of internet for one person to use. By US standards, “high-speed’ internet starts at 25 Mbps. Now, if you were on the internet and getting 25 Mbps you might not think that it’s high speed anymore, but the 100 Mbps that comes with the Spectrum Internet basic plan goes a long way. 

You can comfortably run two internet intense activities at the same time, like streaming in one room and playing a videogame online in the other. We recommend 100 Mbps for households where there are generally only two intense activities going on, generally in households of one to three people. If anyone works from home, we recommend at least 100 Mbps for home internet. 

Spectrum Internet Ultra

Coming in at 400 Mbps, Spectrum Internet Ultra packs a serious punch. Access to 400 Mbps at home gives you a ton of bandwidth. In an interesting comparison, one of the most common internet-intensive activities is streaming video. Streaming a video in UHD (4K) takes about 25 Mbps of bandwidth. That’s right. With 400 Mbps, you could stream 16 UHD videos at once before you started noticing faltering speeds. This is, for all intentions, a bit overkill. It allows big homes to rest easy knowing that the internet will never be overworked, no matter what you and your family are doing! 

Higher download speeds also allow you to download files at significantly faster speeds. Downloading that same game, you can expect around 50 MB download if no one else is using the network. It is probably overkill, but at only $20 extra a month, quadrupling your speeds is not bad! 

Spectrum Internet Gig

For a family, no matter how much they do at once, 940 Mbps is overkill. Following the same analogy as before, you could stream 40 UHD videos all at once! Nine Hundred Forty Mbps is enough to run a business of a few dozen employees all working on tasks of varying intensity. So, unless you expect your internet to be bombarded with a tremendous amount of activity you will be fine sticking with their standard or ultra speeds. 

There is also, of course, a bit of wonder that comes into the eyes of your guests when you explain that you have a gigabit of internet. One important note, however, is that a lot of activities are bottlenecked by the slowest part of the process. Whether you have this internet or one of their less speedy packages, there’s no need to worry if you are uploading or downloading at significantly slower speeds on a certain platform. 

Optimize Internet Coverage in Your Home 

Now that you’ve got your Spectrum internet it’s time to make the most of it! You want your internet to provide the best coverage to all of your devices. How do you do that? We have a few answers to common questions in this section to help you pick out the best place for your modem, the right GHz, and whether their modem is right for you. Read on for our answers! 

Where Should You Place Your Spectrum Modem? 

The best place to put a router is in a central, unobstructed location in your home. Think of your router as the center of a pair of bubbles. One has a fifty-foot radius, and the other has a 150-foot radius. That is, give or take, how far your internet extends in the house. If possible, you want all of your stationary devices to be within that inner, 5 GHz circle in order to benefit from the faster internet speeds. 

You are, unfortunately, limited by the coax cable spots within your home. Some homes have one in every room while others have those jacks in only a couple of rooms. We recommend finding all the cables in your home to then have an idea of all the potential spots where the router can reside. Once you know that, you can pick the spot that is central to all the streaming you do on a regular basis. 

Which Devices Should You Connect to Each Network? 

You should prioritize connecting devices to your 5 GHz network. It is only a little faster, but devices will benefit from connecting to it as long as they stay well within that sphere. If you have a variety of devices that stay within that network they should benefit from the speeds. A more practical test is to spend a week or so with the device on one network and then on the other. From there, you can figure out which one offers a faster and more consistent connection and go with that one! This is concerning stationary devices. 

We recommend keeping all mobile devices on the 2.4 GHz network, as it likely extends all throughout the house, giving you the ability to access the network at full speed from anywhere at all. If your house extends beyond the connection of the router, try to keep that room relatively device free. Beyond the bubble of high-speed internet there’s a space where you are still connected but only with one or two bars, resulting in a spotty connection that will make any serious connection more challenging. 

Should You Purchase a Third-Party Modem? 

Buying a third-party router can boost your Wi-Fi signal strength if you find that the one supplied by Spectrum is not working fast enough. This is a relatively uncommon occurrence, but if your space is a bit too big or you are running a lot of devices at once you may decide that a more robust modem or router is exactly what you need. 

When you join Spectrum you are offered a modem and router as a part of your installation kit for free. There is a list of approved modems at Spectrum, ordered by the internet speeds that they support. 

Do You Need a Wi-Fi Extender?

If you experience spotty speeds in your house, a Wi-Fi extender can patch those holes right up! The further you are from the modem, the choppier the coverage gets. Wi-Fi extenders are perfect for people who enjoy working outside on a patio or deck. Those areas are likely the furthest areas from your router and bad connection could keep you from enjoying the weather while working from home. A Wi-Fi extender should connect with your router and produce a connection bubble of its own, increasing your wireless speeds to a consistent and fast speed where they were once too slow. 

You’ve Activated Your Spectrum Modem — What’s Next? 

At this point, hopefully your network is up and running on your new Spectrum internet modem and router. It is fast and provides consistent internet speeds to your devices all around the house. Great! But what do you do now? Hopefully, you can relax and enjoy your internet speeds for a year or longer and not have to think about it at all. Nothing breaks, no areas get slowed down, and you never use so much internet that you are pushing the limit of your current internet speed. 

That is, alas, not always the case. If you run into any hardware problems with your internet, the first call you should make is to Spectrum’s customer service. They handle all sorts of hardware problems and they can direct you to the fastest and easiest solution to get you back up and running at 100%. If you notice speeds are slowing down you can do some internet troubleshooting! 

Try to figure out a good way to word your problem, for instance, “Internet slow in certain rooms of the house” and check out the results! If your first query gets you no closer to the answer you can type in another keyword and keep cycling until you find some good info! You can, of course, contact customer service again! They have access to an encyclopedia of knowledge all about Spectrum internet. We hope that you are feeling ready to handle anything your internet can throw at you! From finding the right provider to installation to maintenance you are prepared for everything but the kitchen sink.

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.