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Wireless Cable Modems - An Introduction to Wireless Cable Modems

users connection devices device

A wireless cable modem is a device that combines cable broadband to wireless functionality.

The term “wireless cable modem” is somewhat misleading. While a modem is a device that creates a single connection to the internet, a router negotiates the connectivity of multiple devices. Since wireless connections cater to multiple users, any kind of wireless-capable modem could be described as a router. Though this article will continue to refer to these devices as “wireless cable modems,” users should note that these devices can also be described as “wireless cable modem/routers.”

As a combination device, a wireless cable modem handles two tasks: enabling broadband and dispensing it to wireless devices.

Any cable modem—wireless or otherwise—is connected to the internet using a coaxial, or “coax,” cable. This is the same thick, needle-and-nut cable that has been connected to the backs of televisions for decades. The cable itself connects to a modem which serves as a digital traffic cop for all the devices on the user end of the device. In addition to ports for networking cables, a wireless cable modem will also feature a wireless transmitter, which can range from a small, built-in transmitter to a pair of stubby antennae.

Storms are the sworn foe of modems, so users should funnel electricity to their wireless cable modems through a surge protector or surge-protected outlet. Once the coax cable is fastened and the electricity is flowing safely, the wireless cable modem is ready to set up.

From here, users can access their wireless cable modem using a laptop or similar wi-fi capable device. The user can then configure the wireless cable modem. Configurations will vary depending on hardware, with an Installation Wizard being provided for most mainstream consumer devices and others describing the process in their documentation and instructions.

Though the modem is ready-to-go once configured, users may wish to configure their security options as well. Without some form of security, anyone in the neighborhood can use the connection. Such digital generosity comes with several risks, ranging from slowed bandwidth to fallout from freeloaders’ internet crimes. A freeloading user can, for example, get the internet connection banned from a website, or implicate the connection in software piracy by using it for illegal downloads.

Most wireless cable modems feature LED indicators to indicate whether a connection is active. Furthermore, they will usually sport several ports for wired connections.

If a connection falters, two simple steps can often restore connectivity. First, make sure that the coax and power cables are plugged in. Then, try turning it on and off again. Most tech support personnel begin their service calls with these two suggestions, and preempting their tips can save time.

Prices for wireless cable modems vary from $30 to $150, but most cable broadband providers allow users to lease wireless cable modems as part of their internet package. Such modems require little user involvement, as they will generally arrive pre-configured to the network’s settings. Some companies will even offer to install it as part of the package, sending a contractor to assist in placement and setup.

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