How to Setup a Home Wireless Network

You will encounter the following terms about wireless home network so to make things more understandable, here is a quick vocabulary lesson:

  • Access point – Aside from being a point of connection between users and networks, an access point is a transmitter and receiver of data via radio signals in the case of wireless gadgets. An access point is needed in setting up both a wired and wireless networks.
  • WPAN (wireless personal area network) – This network is limited to personal use, often used in PDA’s (personal digital assistant) so that data from such may be synchronized with a desktop computer. A WPAN makes use of Bluetooth as a wireless standard.
  • WLAN (wireless local area network) – The coverage of a WLAN is similar to that of a LAN (one building or house), but instead of Ethernet wires or cables, it makes use of the wireless standard called 802.11b or WiFi.
  • WWAN (wireless wide area network) – The coverage of a WWAN is more broad than a WPAN and WLAN, and makes use of Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication. This is the technology used in mobile phones to allow internet access and international calls and SMS.
  • Intranet – This is a type of network which does not require an ISP. This is usually setup to network computers in the same house or building to allow easier program and file sharing, but without internet access.

The Power of Networking

If your household uses two or more computers to accommodate all the users, setting up a home network would be very beneficial. Networking your computers allows easier sharing of files, common programs, and common printers (especially if you only have one) between and among computers. Licensed programs are intended for single users, but you can share this with other users in the house strictly for home use by making them available through your intranet (an ISP is not needed).

Aside from sharing licensed software, you can also share your printer, especially if you only have one available in the house. If you need to transfer files and folders, or a brother/sister/parent needs one of your files (e.g. list of expenses and how you spend your allowance) or you would want to share a file with them (e.g. the draft of your book review), then networking makes all these things possible.

Why go wireless?

Getting all wired up is a dream-come-true in this age of Information Technology. But navigating through long cable wires, making them pass through whatever hole and space in-between rooms of your house, and occasionally tripping over these snake-like wirings can sometimes drag your enthusiasm down. Not to mention, these wires make your room look cluttered and unorganized. But thanks to wireless technology, we can now kiss those wires goodbye and say hello to a hassle-free wireless home network.

If you have Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection but only one cable connected to one of your computers, networking your computers will allow multiple users to access the worldwide web, and also help facilitate sharing information downloaded from the internet to the people in the house.

If you need to connect mobile devices such as laptops, Palm Pilot’s, and Pocket PC’s, then having a home wireless network is an advantage especially if you own a business and need to go mobile every now and then. You can synchronize all your files from one device to another thus your files are in order. If you are not a heavy mobile gadget user, then old wired networking is enough to suit your needs.

Does wireless technology for home-use have drawbacks?

Yes! The major drawback is that wireless gadgets and peripherals cost more than the usual cabled computers and peripherals. This is understandable since more advanced technology as a result of several years of research and product development must be accounted for.

Another drawback: wireless standards such as Bluetooth, 802.11b (a.k.a. WiFi), and cellular technologies (GSM) make use of radio waves thus, home appliances such as microwaves, cordless phones, and televisions, as well as other facilities such as radio stations can interfere with the signals.

So what must I take into consideration before going wireless at home?

Before setting up a home wireless network, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I or other people in the house have mobile computer devices?

If no one has one, then why go wireless?

Is there a need for me or other household members to go mobile?

If your profession, educational pursuits, or business requires you or your family members to have mobile devices, do these mobile devices need to be synchronized with your home computers? If yes, then you are a likely candidate to wireless home networking.

Is managing internet use among household members a problem?

If there are multiple users in the house and you are having a hard time managing who gets to use the internet during any time of the day, then you may want to consider going wireless.

Can I/We afford the cost of setting up a wireless home network?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, a wireless home network would cost more. If there are damages to the gadgets and peripherals, repair would also cost more. You must therefore assess your financial capability since wireless home networking is more than just setting up the connection—it also means maintaining the connections.

How do I setup a home wireless network?

If you have finally decided to go wireless, here is an overview of how a home wireless network is put up.

Choose the wireless network equipment that you will use.  It is wise to canvass for the lowest prices without compromising the performance and quality of the equipment. You should consider how many computers and mobile devices need wireless adaptors in your home.

o          Desktop adaptors – PCI network adaptor or USB wireless adaptor

o          Laptop adaptors – Card adaptor or USB adaptor

Wireless routers offer better security and sharing within a network and are usually less expensive than access points. Access points are usually used by bigger establishments and businesses.  For home networking, the wireless standard to use is the WiFi or 802.11b.

Install wireless adapters to all desktops and laptop computers in the house.  Make sure that the desktop computer is turned off when you install a PCI network adaptor since you would need to open up the computer case to install it. USB adaptors only need to be inserted to a free USB port with the computer turned on. You will be prompted by the computer for further instructions.

Setup your wireless router in a convenient place.

In choosing the location to position your wireless router, consider its proximity to the computer having the cabled modem or DSL connection. Also, take into consideration whether the location is a dead spot�where radio signals cannot travel. Take note that walls, metal objects, and even people can absorb these radio signals.

Test if you have internet connection.

Turn on the wireless router and the computers. Test if you have successfully connected to the internet by opening a browser in one of your wireless computers and type in the default address of your router-you can refer to the router�s manual for this address; then input your username and password so that the computer can connect to the ISP (whether you are using dial-up or DSL connection). IP addresses will be displayed on the screen and you would also be able to see how strong the signals are for each wireless computer connected in your network.

Build up the security of your wireless home network.

Configure your Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) filtering address by enabling it in the router and wireless adaptors. By doing this, you can limit the computers that have access your computer network. In this way, your security and privacy are ensured.  Once you’ve got this setup you can roam freely around your house or even in the backyard and enjoy the convenience of your high speed connection while sitting in your hammock sipping a Mai Tai.

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