Back to basics - how to get online at home

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

Someone asked me recently, “What do you have to do to get online at home?” There was also an implicit question of cost attached to that as well.

It’s probably easiest if I start with the basics. First of all you need three things.

1. A phone line and an internet service provider (ISP).

2. An ADSL gateway/router for broadband access (most common type of connection).

3. Something to connect with. ie. A computer, tablet or smartphone.

It is worth shopping around for the best deals when it comes to ISPs. You will often find they have special offers for new customers, which means very cheap rates for a few months. Make sure you pay special attention to the costs after the honeymoon period is over! You may or may not need an engineer visit when first getting set up. Your ISP will be able to advise you on this.

Normally your ISP will offer you an ADSL gateway as part of the package, these may be free or there may be an additional charge.

ADSL gateways are the gubbins that allow you to connect to the internet, but they usually also include router capabilities. A router handles networking between devices in your home.

If you decide to shop for a gateway/router yourself, make sure it is definitely a gateway and not just a router. You can tell, because it will specify ADSL somewhere on the packaging. If you accidentally buy a router instead of a gateway, you won’t be able to connect to the internet.

Gateways (and routers) vary in price, ranging from a few pounds to a couple of hundred. You should be able to get a decent one for less than £100 though.

Two last words about gateways. Ones supplied by your ISP will often be preconfigured for you. To get them set up can be as simple as plugging them in.

If you purchase a gateway separately you will need to go into the setup and configure it yourself.

Secondly, make sure you use a microfilter on all of the telephone sockets that are in use in your house. Without these you will find the internet connection is lost every time someone phones you!

Once your gateway has been set up, your internet connection is up and running and you have had a nice cup of tea, you can start to surf the internet with your device of choice. More on that next week.

Alan Stainer