Wireless networking, also known as Wi-Fi, is a way to share a single Internet connection among several computers within the home. Additionally, portable notebook computers with wireless capability can often be used to connect wirelessly with other wireless networks in locations such as cafes and libraries. Setting up a home wireless network has never been easier. The available options are plentiful and inexpensive.
Wireless Network Components
The necessary elements for wireless networking in the home are:
- An Internet connection (usually DSL or cable)
- A wireless router or access point
- A wireless network adapter for each device that will be connected to the wireless network.
The router's function is to manage and distribute the various connections by communicating with the DSL or cable modem and with each computer connected to the network. An access point serves a similar function. However, access points are more common in business applications whereas routers often include several useful built-in security features and are recommended for home networks.
Many wireless routers include ports for wired connections as well, which can be useful if portability is not a major issue. Most contemporary desktop computers already include a wired Ethernet adaptor, which can be used with the wired connection on the router, saving the cost of purchasing a wireless adaptor for that computer.
After selecting the router, it is time to choose a location for it. If you plan to connect the router directly to the computer, you'll want the two to be close together. Additionally, the router will need to be connected to the DSL or cable modem. It may also be a good idea to find a location that allows free transmission of the wireless signal. Many times, signal from appliances such as cordless phones or microwave ovens can interfere with the wireless signal, so it is best to place the router away from these things.
Other than the wireless router, you will need a network adapter for each computer that you are planning to network wirelessly. These come in many forms. For desktops, PCI wireless adaptors are very common and can be installed in one of the computer's slots. PC Card adaptors are available for laptops with PC Card functionality. USB connectors can be used with either desktop or laptop computers and offer easy installation and removal. To connect these devices to the wireless network, you will need to configure the router using one of your computers.
Refer to the instructions provided by the router's manufacturer for more information. Once the network is set up, you will be networking wirelessly!