Modems overview

The most common way to connect to the Internet is with a modem and an account with an Internet service provider (ISP). To share an Internet connection with other computers on your home or small office network, you should run the Network Setup Wizard, which configures Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). For more information about finding an ISP, see Internet service providers

The following table describes the different types of modems available today. To share your Internet connection with other computers on your network, you might want to consider higher-speed modems such as DSL or cable. Check with your local telephone company or cable television provider to see if these are available in your area.

TypeExplanation

28.8 or 56 kilobits per second (Kbps) modem

The most common and widely used method of connecting to the Internet, internal modems plug into a PCI slot on the computer motherboard. Some computers include a modem directly on the motherboard. External modems are connected to a serial, parallel, or USB port on the computer.

ISDN

Similar to a modem in many ways, ISDN modems can be internal or external. ISDN connects to a regular phone line. ISDN is actually a high-speed digital line installed by your telephone company or telecommunications provider.

Cable modem

A broadband connection to the Internet using cable television infrastructure, cable modems use a special band of frequencies that do not interfere with television transmission. External cable modems use a network adapter to connect to the computer. Internal versions plug into an expansion slot in the computer, eliminating the need for a network adapter.

DSL

A broadband connection to the Internet through existing telephone lines, DSL modems can be internal or external. Internal DSL modems are plugged into an expansion slot in the computer and do not require a network adapter. External DSL modems use a network adapter to connect to the computer.

 Note

Some satellite Internet services require the use of two network adapters, one for sending information to the Internet and one for receiving information back. These types of devices will not work with Internet Connection Sharing.

For a comprehensive list of hardware supported by Windows operating systems, see Compatible Hardware and Software in Help and Support Center. 

Hardware requirements overview

Network adapters overview

Buying the right hardware

Steps for creating a home or small office network

Internet service providers

ISP access methods



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