Science & Tech

How to set up a wireless network

By George Garza
Info Guru,

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Man with computer cables
Since a wireless network computer doesn't need to have all those tangled cables to worry about, you can freely move it around and still get a great Internet connection
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Setting up a wireless network can be easy with the right equipment.

Home network connections are important because they let you stretch your access to other computers in your house or to the Internet. Knowing how to set up a wireless network makes things even easier because you don't have to worry about wires or cables. In fact connecting to the Internet is easy if you have the right equipment and cables for wireless netowrking.

So let's start by looking at what kind of equipment you need. For starters you need:

- a modem to connect to the Internet

a cable to connect the modem to your wireless router

- a wireless router that will send a wireless signal to your computer

a computer with a wireless network card that can receive the signal 

What Type of Internet Connection Should You Have?

Start with your Internet connection. There are four connection types: Dial-up, DSL, Cable and Satellite. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the four different connection types.


The biggest advantage of a dial-up internet connection is its low cost. But dial-up is the slowest Internet connection with speeds limited to 56 Kbps (Kilo-thousand bits per second). NetZero and AOL are typical Dial-up Internet Service Providers (ISP). You must provide your own modem to use dial-up. But they are not very expensive. In newer PC's the modem is already built in.



DSL connects you to the Internet through your existing phone line just like dial-up. DSL is always on unlike dialup. But it doesn't tie up your phone line; phone calls are possible. The downside is that the farther away you are from the switching site, the slower your connections speeds will be.



First it is always on just like DSL and it doesn't tie up your phone line. It has high connection speeds up to 10 mega bits per second (Mbps); that's millions of bits per second. However, if you are always connected, that makes you more vulnerable to Internet security threats. And you are also sharing your backbone connection with other users so you may experience slower speeds.

Comcast and AT&T are typical DSL and Cable providers. These providers will provide you with a modem as part of their service.



The fourth connection type is Satellite. It has download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. Its upload speeds are slower at 128 Kbps. But they don't require hardwired connections. So it is a great alternative for users off the grid in rural areas. These connections however can be affected by bad weather. Skyway and Hughes Net are satellite service providers.

Okay, so you know about connections…what else?

When you contract with the ISP they will provide you with an Internet address. This is an IP address that you must have to connect. They will also provide you with other IP numbers like Gateways and DNS services. You can relax. You don't need to know what these numbers are, just know that they are there for you.

You will also need a RJ-45 network cable. You can get one at any electronics store for less than $10. You connect this cable from the modem to the wireless router.

The Wireless Router


So what is a wireless router? It sends out a signal into your home or office that originates from the modem. Linksys, D-link, and Belkin are companies that make these devices. Usually there is a port called Internet, or Uplink. Plug in your network cable into the port from the modem to the wireless router.

Following the Internet Path

Your Internet connection is coming from your ISP. It hits your modem, then it goes to the wireless router via the physical cable. Is that it? No, not quite. There is one more hardware device that you need.

A Wireless Network Adapter in Your Computer


Your PC or Laptop will have a network adapter card that can receive the signal. If you have a newer computer you may already have wireless capabilities built in. If you need to purchase an adapter for a desktop computer buy a USB wireless network adapter.

Configure Your PC for Wireless Operation

This is easy. Windows XP will automatically detect the adapter and it may prompt you to insert the CD that came with your adapter. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the configuration process. In most cases, accept the default settings and you are ready to go. But remember, the wireless range is about 200 feet. For best service be close to the wireless router.

Are you done?


Now you are. Each one of these steps is important, but now you know how to setup a wireless network. It is easy if you have the right equipment.

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