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:
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 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.)