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Basics of wireless networking

Created date

August 21st, 2012

If you ve been at a coffee shop, hotel, or airport, you ve probably been right in the middle of a wireless hot spot. A wireless (WiFi) hot spot provides a radio frequency signal similar to a wireless phone. These connections allow you to connect to the Internet using a laptop, tablet, or mobile device. WiFi networks are unobtrusive and enable you to share your connection with visitors. They can be used anywhere in your home from the outside patio to the bedroom or living room. If you don t already have a personal WiFi connection, you will find that getting one is inexpensive and relatively easy to set up. Here are a few items that you will need to get up and running. Step 1: Internet service You ll need to make sure you have Internet service from a local cable company such as Comcast or Verizon that bundles phone, cable TV, and Internet all in one package. The fastest connections are broadband connections major providers include Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, and Cox. These connections are the fastest and are great for watching streaming video or music. The next fastest connection is DSL, which is similar to broadband but a bit slower. Step 2: Cable modem When you sign up for Internet service, most cable companies will connect a square box, called a modem, to your cable connection. You usually rent this unit from the cable company and pay a monthly fee to use it. The modem usually has network ports that you can use to connect computers that do not have WiFi or printers. Some modems have an antenna and broadcast a wireless connection through WiFi. If your cable modem has WiFi antennas, then you already have a hot spot signal and can skip to step 4. Step 3: Wireless router You can find a router at any electronics retailer, but look for connections that are 802.11g or 802.11n, as these are the fastest. There are antennas that will broadcast your wireless signal; however, try to keep the unit away from wireless phones, which can interfere with the signal. Step 4: WiFi-enabled computer or mobile device To take advantage of the connection, you ll need a laptop that has WiFi built in, or a tablet or mobile device with WiFi built in. If you have a computer or laptop that does not have WiFi already built in, you can purchase a USB adapter that connects to your computer and will allow you to connect to wireless connections. Other considerations The most important thing you can do when setting up a wireless router is to make it secure. If you skip this step, anyone near your home can connect to your hot spot. If you get a modem with WiFi built in, you can have the cable company assist you with this; otherwise, you can follow the instructions provided with your router to set this up by creating a password that you use to connect.