Using your old ADSL modem with a new broadband provider

  • How to reconfigure your old modem
  • When to buy a new modem
  • Locked modems

When you connect up with an ADSL broadband provider’s service you’ll undoubtedly need a modem to make the connection work. Most broadband providers these days either sell you the modem, you get it for free on a long-term plan (E.g. 24-months), or in some instances they’ll let you rent the machine. In this last instance you would have to return the device if you cancel your contract.

Reconfiguring your modem for a new Internet Service Provider (ISP)

If you’ve moved house and your previous provider isn’t available in the new location, or you simply found a better deal with a different ISP, you will need to reconfigure your ADSL modem for the new service. This is also the case if you bought your original modem from an electronics store.

The process involves putting the new user name and password you received from the ISP into the machine’s settings, but as you’re not buying the modem from your new provider, they aren’t technically obliged to help you (though some will be nice enough to try). This is one advantage of buying a modem through your broadband provider; they have to help you program it, or in some cases they will pre-program it for you before delivery.

One issue you may have to contend with is when the new ISP has no knowledge about your brand of modem, and as each modem is unique, their technical support team is unaware of how to program it. This is why it’s always important to keep your modem’s paper manual and/or set-up CD, so you have access to all of the necessary instructions. If you have lost these items, your next best bet is to ‘Google’ search your modem’s name, plus ‘How to configure’.

Don’t use your old ADSL modem on an ADSL2+ broadband connection


Just because you have an ADSL modem doesn’t mean it is going to be good enough for your new broadband connection. If you have been on ADSL for a long time and are now moving to ADSL2+, chances are your modem won’t be powerful enough to handle the new, faster speed.

ADSL modems are used on 256kbps, 512kbps, 1500kbps and 8000kbps connections. The maximum speed this type of modem can handle is 8000kbps. ADSL2+ runs at speeds of up to 24Mbps, or 24,000kbps. This means if you use your old ADSL modem on the new connection, you will only receive around one third of the potential speed you are paying for.

It will usually say on the side or bottom of the modem whether or not the device is only capable of handling ADSL, or if it can handle ADSL2+ speeds.

What is a locked modem?


On rare occasions an ISP will ‘lock’ a modem, so it only works on its own service. If you are one of the unfortunate few who have to go through this experience, your first port of call will be to ask the previous ISP if they can remove the locking codes; in most cases they will oblige. If the lock cannot be removed, you would have to buy a new modem.

Will I need to re-create my home’s Wi-Fi network?

This all depends on your specific brand of modem. In some instances you won’t need to do anything (the old Wi-Fi network settings can be left unchanged), whereas other modems will require you to create a new name for the home network. In this instance you’ll also need to create a related security password, so your neighbours can’t use up your download quota.