AT&T Internet Installation

DecisionData Team
April 06, 2020

As one of the top internet service providers (ISPs) in the country, AT&T is a great choice for your personal telecommunications needs. But how do you get started once you’ve made your decision? What’s the best way to handle AT&T internet installation?

You have two choices: Let a technician install your new system, or do it yourself with an AT&T self-install kit. We’ll explain both of these options so that you know which is the best choice for you.

Should I self-install AT&T internet?

AT&T self-install overview 

Self-installation means just that: you will handle the tasks necessary to install AT&T internet service on your computer and other devices. AT&T does its best to make this a streamlined process that anyone can tackle, but only you know if you’re up to the job.

The company has tons of how-to info on its website, and if you have a standard installation, the process involves little more than plugging cables into the correct locations on your computer, your phone line and the WiFi Gateway device that the company will give you. 

There’s no cost involved — the self-install kit is free with your plan — and AT&T’s website has a troubleshooting section that can help you if you get stumped. You can also call the company at its customer service line, 1-800-288-2020.

There are no special tools needed for the self-install and it shouldn’t take more than half an hour to get your system up and running.

Pros and cons of AT&T self-install 


  • You’ll save money. Having a technician come out to your house starts at $99 (as of March 2020), and may go higher if there are complications. Of course, if there are complications, it may be beyond your abilities and you’ll need a technician, but a basic installation does not require one.

  • It’s not that hard. If your home is correctly wired for DSL or fiber service, the install is not complicated. You’ll receive the color-coded cabling and Gateway device from AT&T, along with simple directions on how to configure the system so that it works properly.

  • You don’t have to wait around for a technician, and can do the AT&T self-install when it’s convenient for you. You know how it is: the company gives you a two-hour window (or more) for when its technician will be there, and you end up missing half a day of work or school waiting around for them. With the self-install, you take care of it when you want with no waiting around.


  • An AT&T self-install does take time, effort and a little knowledge. It’s not hard to do, but if you really don’t have any interest in getting down-and-dirty with a tangle of cables, and your time is limited, the technician install can be just the ticket. A self-install requires you to decipher the many ports that may be on the back of your computer or other device, and you’ll want to download the Smart Home Manager app and negotiate it. If that thought makes you want to panic, a self-install isn’t for you.

  • If you get stuck, you may end up with a technician anyway. If you have reason to believe that your particular install will be complicated for any reason, it may be easier in the long run just to have a technician handle the details.

Should I get AT&T professional internet installation? 

AT&T professional installation overview 

Having an AT&T professional install your internet is a good choice if convenience and ease are important to you, and if you’d rather not deal in the detailed tasks of installation that might have you climbing under a desk or behind a table looking for a phone jack or exploring all those inputs on the back of your computer. 

The installation should cost you $99-149 in addition to AT&T’s internet activation fee of $49 (which also applies to self-install — as of March 2020). That fee buys you a seamless experience and ease of mind. The other cost is in your time: AT&T will give you a two-hour window during which you can expect the technician and the installation may take as much as four hours, depending on your circumstances. If time is in short supply for you, that may add up.

Pros and cons of AT&T professional installation  


  • What’s easier than letting someone else do the work? If you are unable to or uninterested in dealing with the workings of your internet connection, having a technician do the work may be your best choice.

  • A technician can handle any special circumstances that arises. Although the basic installation process isn’t hard, sometimes things don’t go the way they’re planned or the infrastructure isn’t right. If that’s the case, having a technician on scene means you’ll get the kinks worked out quickly and have access to your internet sooner.


  • It’s not free. A technician installation starts at $99, and that’s on top of whatever fees you’re already paying for your plan. Be prepared for a bigger-than-usual first bill.

  • You’ll need to re-arrange your schedule. AT&T will give you a window of time in which your technician will arrive, but this will require you to be at home to let them in. If it’s hard for you to be away from work or school, that may be a big factor.

AT&T self-install how-to 

AT&T has a number of internet setup guides available online. Here’s what’s involved in the most common installations:

  1. Download the Smart Home Manager app once you have registered for your service. Sign in with your AT&T user ID and password. (This step is optional, but will help you manage your installation once it’s completed.) 
  2. You should have received your self-install kit from AT&T when you signed up for your plan. Unpack it and make sure it has the following elements. If any are missing, call AT&T customer service at 1-800-288-2020.
    • WiFi Gateway
    • Green data cable
    • Yellow Ethernet cable
    • Gray cable (for phone service only)
    • Two-part power cord
    • Instructions
  3. Have your AT&T access ID and password ready, or your account number and four-digit passcode.
  4. Locate the broadband jack in your home.
  5. Plug the green cable into the DSL (broadband) port in the Gateway, and into the broadband wall jack.
  6. If you have a wired connection, plug the yellow cable into the Gateway’s ethernet port and into the back of your computer.
  7. If you have digital phone service, plug the gray cable into the Gateway’s port labelled “Phone Lines 1 & 2,” and into your phone.
  8. The black power cord plugs into the Gateway and a convenient electrical outlet.
  9. Wait about ten minutes. You want to see the broadband and the service lights on the Gateway turn solid green. You should then be able to access the internet from your computer.
  10. To set up WiFi, go to Wireless Network Settings on your device. You should see the name of your WiFi Network there. Look on your Gateway for the sticker that has a 12-character WiFi Password, and enter it into your device. 
  11. You may already be registered online, and if so, you’re finished. If not, open a browser and follow the directions online to register.
  12. If you wish, now you can go to the Smart Home Manager on your device and customize the settings to your liking.

Should I rent or buy my AT&T equipment 

There are a couple things to consider when deciding whether to rent or buy your AT&T equipment. One consideration is cost, of course. Take your modem as an example. If you purchase one, it will probably cost around $50-$100, and then you own it for as long as it works, which should be at least three or four years. AT&T’s equipment rental fee ranges from $6 to 10 a month. In theory, you could save hundreds of dollars by purchasing your own modem.

But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. AT&T would rather have you using its equipment. That’s probably partly because it gets a little more money out of your pocket and into theirs, but it’s also how they can be sure that the equipment is correct for your particular setup. Plus, it’s the equipment that their technicians are trained to install. So the company makes it easy for you to rent your modem, router or other equipment directly from them.

Another reason to consider using AT&T equipment is the fact that if you’re leasing your equipment from AT&T and if it breaks down, a quick call to customer service will get you a new one. If you’re using your own equipment, you’ll either need to have the technical chops to fix it yourself, or go out and buy a new one.

In general, we’d recommend that you use the equipment AT&T provides unless you are tech-savvy enough to install and service your own equipment. This may save you some headaches down the road while ensuring that you are using equipment that is guaranteed by the company for use with your internet setup.

Self-install or call a pro?  

If you’d like your AT&T internet installation to be smooth with little chance of failure, we’d suggest that you go with the pro. For the cost of a few hours of your time and $99, you’ll have your internet up and running with little disruption to your life. 

On the other hand, if you want to save a little money and you don’t have any deep-seated fears of exploring the back of your computer, a self-install kit can be all you need for quick and easy internet installation. Although it takes a little time, it’s usually not difficult, especially with AT&T’s directions, website and phone support.