It's good news that usually a standard installation of a wireless access point is not much harder than plugging it in and turning it on. Typically, you'll be ready to use your wireless network (and shared Internet connection) within minutes.
But, much as I love Wi-Fi wireless technology, I have to be honest. There can be a dark side to setting up a Wi-Fi access point. It's as if you were walking along a mountain path with steep drops on either side. As long as you can keep to the path, everything is fine; but if you slip off either side, you can run in to trouble.
Trouble tends to come in two forms:
Regarding the first kind of trouble, network complexity, you probably won't get into it. That is, unless you already have a complicated network, or need to set up a complex network. In this case, you'll find more information in Chapter 14, "Configuring Your Wi-Fi Network," and in Chapter 15, "Advanced Access Point Configuration." Chapters 14 and 15 provide a great deal of information about different ways to set up networks, as well as some of the choices you can make regarding how to design and set up a network.
Perhaps there isn't a whole lot to be said about defective equipment. Every category of electronic device can have an occasional lemon. Your take-away from this should be that if you are following the manufacturer's directionsand the advice in this chapterand your access point is just not working, there is a possibility that the problem is with the equipment.
If you are using encryption (as you should) and you have connection problems from your Centrino laptop, the problem is most likely not defective equipment but rather with the encryption key and settings (also called the "security setting"). This can be frustrating to deal with. The thing to do is to go back and check the value of your key and related settings as entered in the access point and carefully replicate them using your laptop. It's also a good idea to check the support section of the equipment vendor's website for known problems and information about how to fix them.
Here are the general steps you need to do to get your access point working to form a network with your computers and to provide shared Internet access for the computers on the network:
Voilá! It's not very hard, and you'll be up and running with your wireless network very quicklyusually in less than half an hour.
For the most part, in the remainder of this chapter, I'll assume that you are creating a network from scratch using your wireless access point (which I'll also assume includes router functionality). This is probably the most common situation for a Wi-Fi beginner and, in many ways, the most straightforward setup scenario.
Some access points are not set up quite in this order. If the directions from the manufacturer differ from the steps I've outlined, you should, of course, follow their directions.
I'm also assuming the straightforward and simple Internet connection settings. In other words, I can't go into details for every obscure way to connect to the Internet. (For example, Australia's Big Pond cable has some special access settings.) The thing to bear in mind is that connecting a wireless access point and router to the Internet uses exactly the same settings for the Internet connection that your broadband Internet provider (ISP) gave you to connect a single computer. So if you have any problems with the Internet settings for the access point, you should verify them with your ISP by contacting their customer support department.