Beginners guide to understanding the sticker details on your ISP’s routers

For those of you who don’t know ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. In simple terms, an internet service provider is any company that utilizes their network to allow you access to the internet. Depending on where you are located this could be Comcast, Verizon, CenturyLink, AT&T, Frontier, Spectrum and more. Here’s a link to find the best ISP’s in your area.

Your ISP usually provides you service through a router. There are two types of routers; wired and wireless. Nowadays wireless is more common. Routers allow you to connect multiple devices to your home network. This includes but is not limited to your laptop, phone etc. Here’s a little more detail on routers.

Below is a picture of my wireless router compliments 


Photo credit: AQSCORNER


What you need to know about your Router Model Number:

Just like many things you purchase a router has a model number. In this case the most important thing to pay attention to in regards to the model number is the 802.11n. Please note that your letter may be different. 802.11x references the version of WI-FI that you have. The higher the letter the more data the wireless router can obtain. So for example 802.11n can obtain more data than 802.11a.

What you should know about your SSID:

The SSID is the routers name and stands for Service Set Identifier. This name is often created by the ISP before it is sent to you. In my case the first half of my router name is CenturyLink and the second half is a numeric value determined by the company. This helps them identify and keep track of my router. Once your wireless connection is set up this is the name that you look for when trying to connect. I remember when I lived in New York I changed my SSID to say, “FBI VAN”. From time to time you’ll see people set up different names.

What you should know about your Security Type:

To keep thing simple in 2018 your Security Type is most likely WPA2-AES. This is an encryption method for the data being transferred on your network. So this helps to protect the privacy of your network.

What you should know about your KEY/Passphrase:

A Key/Passphrase is actually your “password”. However, it is called a passphrase because it is a bit longer than a regular password for added security. If you know anything about Multi Factor Authentication you’ll know that users are often authenticated on the following: something they are, something they have, and something they know. One of the examples of something they know is a “passphrase”.

What you should know about your Modem GUI Address:

The Modem GUI (Graphical User Interface) Address is essentially the ip address of the modem associated with your router. The ip address should appear as a numeric value similar to the following format: 192.XXX.X.X. You can open a browser and type your Modem GUI Address in a browser. You may get a login screen similar to below. My ISP is CenturyLink so this is how my GUI appears. Yours may appear different.


What you should know about your Admin Username:

In this case the Admin Username is for your Modem GUI Address. So once you are on the above screen you will login your Admin Username.

What you should know about your Admin Password:

The Admin Password is for your Modem GUI Address and is not to be confused with the Key/Passphrase. The Admin Password is for logging into your Modem GUI.

Once you use the Admin Username and Password you may see a screen similar to below:


All of the items in the above screenshot allow you to access a particular feature depending on how the GUI is set up. For example when I click “Modem Status” below is what appears on the screen:

The above screen may be useful if you are having a problem with your internet connection and can’t find any immediate issues. Once you contact your ISP you can let them know whether your router is showing a “connected” status or not.

So the next time you call your ISP don’t be so afraid when they tell you to look at the back of the Router. Show off your new tech skills. Have fun exploring your modem but be careful on changing any settings you may not be familiar with.


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