Share One DSL or Cable
How to Set up a Simple Wireless Network at Home
Do you have a
or cable Internet connection? Want to share it with your
kids on their computer? We show you how.
In our house,
the kids had their own computer and their own dial-up connection
to the Internet, yet they were always clamoring for a turn on my
computer. Why? Because I had the DSL "high-speed"
connection. Not only was there a restriction on the kids' Internet
time (it tied up the phone line), their connection simply wasn't
fast enough, they complained. Spoiled? Perhaps, but I have been
recognizing a "need", as my three kids grow older, for
more and more time on the Internetfor both school projects and
games. Of course, like most everyone else, I had been hearing about home
networks and their convenience for some time. But I put off finding a
"good" time to get one going for a number of reasons,
perhaps the biggest of which was the fact that I really didn't
know what it took to do it.
"wired" my computer with the kids' computer, in a
wireless sort of way. My only regret is that I didn't do it
sooner. I cancelled the dial-up connection for their computer
which of course saved some money. Most importantly to me, however,
is that I don't have to walk into my home office only to find one of the
kids at my desk, rapt in something that would take "just a
second" to complete, before relinquishing my desk chair.
The fact is,
even though I struggled with finding information on how to do it,
once I had the basic knowledge, setting up our home network was very simple. It took
about an hour to set up, however, but the end result wasand
isexciting. Now the kids can use my DSL connection on their
computer, and I can easily share files between the two networked
computersas well as share the printer.
With all this "sharing" going on, I thought I'd share
with our readers the
basic process our family went through to set up our home wireless
network, hoping that it will take some of the
initial guesswork out of the process.
I learned that,
in my case, I would need two products. Well, originally I thought
it would be three products, but an "all-in-one" product
by Linksys meant I only needed two products: the Linksys
Wireless-G Broadband Router and the Linksys Wireless-G USB Network
In order to
connect two home computers together, you need what is called a
switch and a router. I chose a product called Linksys Wireless-G
Broadband Router (WRT54G) which combines an Internet-sharing
router, a 4-port Switch (I plan to hook up our other computer in
the future), and a wireless access point. [Update: the
identical broadband router mentioned here has been upgraded with
although the WRT54G model we used is still available, and still
functions well. Some say that the Speedbooster-enhanced model
doesn't actually boost surfing speed.]
connects to both computers via a network adapter. In other words,
for each computer you want to connect, you will need a network
adapter. Most new computers, which was the case with mine, have
network adapters built in (10/100 Ethernet). The kids' computer is
an older model and I needed to purchase a second product, the
Wireless-G USB Network Adapter. Knowing that the kids' computer
has USB ports, and hoping to avoid having to open up the case, I
chose a network adapter that simply plugs into a USB port. Of
course, it is possible to use a PCI network adapter--one that
plugs into a PCI slot inside the computer. There are other
adapters made for notebooks, but the one mentioned here is
designed for a desktop.
In short, I
connected the Wireless-G Broadband Router to my computer and my
DSL modem. Then I plugged the Wireless-G USB Network Adapter to
the kids' computer -- an older model running Windows 98SE. We are
now able to share one Internet DSL connection and share files from
one computer to the other easily. Each product comes with an
installation CD-ROM and rather clear instructions. The two
products are as follows:
Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router connects to the
computer that is connected to the Internet through broadband (DSL
or cable). The unit comes with an Ethernet cable that plugs into
the back of your computer (where your modem now plugs in) and the
back of the router. The Ethernet cable that currently runs from
your DSL or cable modem to your computer must be plugged into the
router. The product comes with an installation CD-ROM that walks
you through the rather simple installation process.
product I needed was a network adapter for my kids' computer.
Because I wasn't comfortable with opening up the computer to plug
in a PCI adapter, I chose the Linksys Wireless-G USB Adapter.
The adapter is USB-powered, so no power adapter is necessary, and
it comes with an installation CD-ROM. Although this adapter works
with the faster USB 2.0 technology, it is also compatible with
older USB 1.1 ports. Wireless-G is a faster technology than
Wireless-B, but the router above works with the Linksys Wireless-B
USB and PCI Adapters as well.
there are a variety of ways to set up a home network. If you don't
mind running cables, you can save money by using wired as opposed
to wireless products. You can also choose Wireless-B versions of
the products above. These are a little cheaper, but have slower
connections. I would recommend Wireless-G technology.
You can also purchase a Wireless-G Router as above and
choose to buy a cheaper Wireless-B network adapter (they are
Also, if you are comfortable opening up your
computer, the PCI network adapters (such as the Linksys WMP54G Wireless-G PCI Adapter)
will of course work. Although the USB Adapter is small and rather
unassuming, some may prefer to have their adapter out of sight.
PCI adapters for notebooks certainly make sense, and are available
Of course, similar products are available from other
companies, such as D-Link and US Robotics. We are
commenting here on the products we actually used, which are
Since writing this article in late 2003, we have connected another
computer in our household to our wireless network. Everything has
been working well with the products reviewed above, so they are
still in place. For the new computer, we used
the Wireless USB Adapter (USR805422 ),
which is a Wireless-G network adapter with USB 2.0, by US
Robotics. Set-up was super easy, and we like the simple menu
controls. We did not have any compatibility issues with our
Linksys products. [Note that when an adapter is labeled 802.11g,
the "g" stands for wireless-G. Note also that USB
interface 2.0 is faster than USB 1.1] We like the design of this
adapterit's slim and portable, and it can be used for a
desktop or laptop interchangeably. Highly recommended.
As noted in the update area within the article, a newer version
of the router we reviewed here has become available, the Linksys WRT54GS Wireless-G Broadband Router with SpeedBooster.
We have not reviewed the product, which is supposed to increase
real-world network performance by up to 35%. It has a new feature,
a Parental Control Service that allows users to set individual
profiles with access restrictions, as well as controls as to what
kind of web content each profile is allowed to see. Note that this
is a free trial only. Nevertheless, we are very happy with
the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router.
It's less expensive, and some say the difference in speed between
the WRT54G and WRT54GS is negligible when it comes to actual
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