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How to Test Broadband Internet Connection

Connecting to the Internet is taken for granted. Until something goes wrong. Don’t panic. Test and troubleshoot. Check these items when you experience problems getting or staying online:

Power source: Confirm that you have power — when the power goes out, the Internet goes out.

Other signals: If you’re using cable Internet access, for example, check the cable TV. If the TV signal is out, your problem is with the cable system. On a DSL connection, check the phone line: No dial tone means no Internet.

Modem lights: Broadband modems feature lights that do more than just look impressive. Ensure that your modem’s lights are on, have the proper color, and, if appropriate, are blinking.

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Here’s what the lights can mean and how they factor into checking the Internet connection. Not all modems have the variety of lights listed.

Lamp Name What the Modem Is Doing When the Lamp Is Lit
Power Receiving power and operating normally.
Online Letting you know that it’s connected to the service, but not necessarily to the Internet.
Signal Sending information to, and receiving it from, the Internet.
Send Sending information to the Internet.
Receive Receiving information from the Internet.
Activity (Flashing) Sending communications to, or receiving it from, the computer or local network.
Status Working or having issues. The lamp may change color, depending on the modem’s condition or connection.

First, check the power light. Is the modem turned on? Check the power connection from the modem to the wall socket. No power means no Internet.

Second, check the modem’s signal or receive light. When the light is off, blinking, or colored red or orange, the Internet connection has a problem. Specifically, a signal isn’t being broadcast. You can phone your ISP for assistance or wait a few seconds to see whether the problem clears itself.

Disable the standby or loopback switch. Some modems feature a diagnostic switch, which can be labeled Standby or Loopback. Ensure that the switch is in the proper position for the modem to communicate.

Check physical connections. Is the modem connected to a router? Is the router plugged in and functioning? Are the network connections working? Can your computer access other computers on the local network? Can you ping the router?

Restart the modem. Restarting the modem is perhaps the most common trick for getting a broadband connection back up and running.

  1. Unplug the modem.

  2. Wait 30 seconds.

  3. Plug the modem back in.

If this trick doesn’t work, you need to restart the modem and the router. Follow these steps next:

  1. Unplug the modem.

  2. Unplug the router.

  3. Wait 30 seconds.

  4. Plug in the modem again.

  5. Plug in the router again.

If the Internet is still inaccessible, try restarting the computer. The problem might be in your computer, and the generic trick for fixing just about any computer problem is to restart the PC.

If the problem continues, the modem or router may need to be replaced.

  • Broadband Internet access over a cellular modem (known as tethering) doesn’t disappear when the power goes out. If your laptop is so equipped, you can still use the Internet during a blackout.

  • Your ISP (cable or phone company) can test the line all the way up to your modem. That should determine whether the problem is the ISP’s network or yours.

  • Broadband is the generic term that describes cable, DSL, satellite, and other high-speed connections to the Internet.

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