What You Need To Set Up a Wireless Network

If you want to install a wireless network in your home or office, you need wireless network cards and a Wireless Access Point Router. This section covers these components.

Wireless Network Cards

To enable your computer(s) to connect to the wireless network, you need to install a wireless network card on each of the computers you want to be able to access the network. If you purchased a new laptop, it may already include a wireless network card. Many new systems do. If not, you can purchase and install a card. For laptop computers, you can add a card (called a PCMCIA card) that you slide into a PCMCIA port, or you can purchase a card that plugs into your computer via a USB port. For desktop computers, you can install a card into a slot inside your system unit or, again, add an external card that plugs into your computer through a USB port.

Wireless cards have somewhat confusing names and vary in transmitting and receiving speeds. Common cards include the following:

  • 802.11b, the first card introduced. This is the slowest and cheapest card. It can transmit at speeds around 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) and receive at 11 megabits per second. The speed factor comes into play when you want to share files and is especially important when sharing big files, such as video files. (You don't really have to remember the speeds. Just use the speeds for comparison, noting that some cards are faster than others.)

  • 802.11a, the second card introduced. This card is significantly faster than the 802.11b card: It can transmit at 5 GHz and can receive at 54 megabits per second.

  • 802.11g combines features of the a and b cards. It's cheaper than and has a better range than the a card, transmits at the speed of the b card (2.4 GHz), and receives at the speed of the a card (54 megabits per second).

Wireless Access Point Router

For the connection, you need to set up a hotspot, the connection point for the wireless network. You create a hotspot by adding a Wireless Access Point Router, a small box that contains the radio used to send and receive signals. The Wireless Access Point Router also includes a port to which you can connect your cable or DSL modem. When you connect your modem, you then provide access to the Internet from any computers on the wireless network.


You can also find hotspots at restaurants, hotels, schools, libraries, airports, and other places. If you have a wireless card on your laptop, you can connect to the Internet using these hotspots. Note that some may charge a fee for access.

You can also create software access points. For this type of configuration, you install the software on a computer with a wireless network card and Internet-sharing software. For this type of wireless network, you create a peer-to-peer network. (You can find more information about peer-to-peer networks in Chapter 24.)

    Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Windows XP
    Absolute Beginners Guide to Windows XP (2nd Edition)
    ISBN: 078973432X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 176
    Authors: Shelley OHara

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