How to Hook a Laptop to a DSL Line

By Kurt Schanaman

A wireless router connected to a DSL router permits portability and security for your laptop.
i Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

A digital subscriber line (DSL) provides a dedicated high-speed Internet connection with guaranteed upload and download speeds. Your laptop computer can be connected directly to the incoming DSL line, but this method can pose a computer security issue. In addition to the security risk of a direct connection, the laptop would not be truly portable throughout the premises if it is connected to the DSL cable. An often-used DSL connection method for both portability and security includes the use of a wireless router connected to the DSL modem.

Step 1

Set up the DSL modem and the wireless router as close as possible to where the DSL line enters the building.

Step 2

Connect the RJ45 plug on the end of the incoming DSL line to the input jack of the DSL modem. The RJ45 plug resembles a large telephone jack plug. The input jack on the DSL modem may be labeled "WAN" (Wide Area Network), "Internet" or possibly "DSL." Line up the tab on the plug with the notch of the jack and press the plug into the jack until you hear it click in place. Gently tug to make sure the plug does not pull out from the jack.

Step 3

Connect a CAT5 networking cable from the output jack of the modem to the input jack of the wireless router. The output jack on the modem may be labeled "LAN" (Local Area Network), "Network" or "Computer." The input jack on the router may be labeled "WAN" (Wide Area Network), "DSL", "Cable" or "Internet." Connect the plugs in the same way as described above.

Step 4

Connect the power cords of the modem and the router to nearby electrical outlets and turn on the units.

Step 5

Connect a network cable between the Ethernet networking jack on the laptop and one of the networking jacks on the wireless router. This is required for initial configuration of the wireless networking on many wireless routers, which must be set up correctly before your laptop can access the Internet over the wireless local network. Most routers have a default IP address which must be entered in the browser of your computer to access the router configuration menu.

Step 6

Configure the router according to the instructions you received with the unit. At a minimum, be sure to set up the networking information section of the router, as well as the wireless settings. If your DSL provider has given you a static Internet protocol (IP) address that is permanent, enter that IP address into the "WAN IP Address" section of the router network settings. Your provider should have given you the IP addresses of at least two domain name service (DNS) servers. Enter those into the DNS settings of the router. Turn on the router's dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) so the router can assign IP addresses to any computers that request one from it.

Step 7

Set up wireless networking in the router. Select a service set identifier (SSID) name for your network. This identification name will be broadcast to all nearby wireless computers, allowing you to differentiate your network from others in the local area. Next, select whether you desire to use WEP, WPA or WPA2 encryption. For the most recent security, use WPA2 if the router provides this option. Write down the WEP or WPA encryption key on a piece of paper, because you will need to enter it into the network configuration of your computers.

Step 8

Save all router settings and exit the router configuration. The new configuration settings will become active for your local network.

Step 9

Configure your laptop to access the Internet through your router. For Windows computers, click the "Start" icon in the lower-left corner of the screen, then click "Control Panel." In the control panel search box, type "network" and press "Enter" on the keyboard. In the search results, click on "Network and Sharing Center," then "Set up a new connection or network." Finally, click on "Set up a new network." In "Gateway IP" be sure to enter your router's default IP address (an example is and make sure "DHCP" is selected. Select which encryption method your network uses (WPA, WPA2) and enter the encryption key when instructed to do so. Save all settings and exit the network configuration.

Step 10

Disconnect your laptop from the cable connecting it to the router and test the wireless Internet connection. Configure all additional laptops and computers that you want to be able to access the Internet through your DSL connection.