How Does a Wireless Router Work?

By Amber Keefer

What It Is

A wireless router is a hardware device used to connect a computer to a network without running cables from the computer to the router. A wireless router allows you to share an internet connection with several other computer users without having to pay internet subscription fees for each individual user. Users can quickly and easily connect to the internet, usually within 100 feet of the wireless signal.

Accessing the Internet

There are two types of wireless routers, each designed for a different use. The first type allows you to connect computers within a single household as long as the computers are within the range of the router. This router type allows you to access the internet remotely. The second type of wireless router is designed for office application and covers a wider area. While wired routers cost less than wireless routers, wireless connections are convenient and becoming more reliable.

Remote Connection Without a Cable Wire

A wireless router works by plugging a base set into an internet connection, giving your computer access to the internet. Wireless routers allow computer users to work online without having to be connected with a cable wire. They allow for wired connections as well (i.e. having a desktop computer connected to the router through the Ethernet cable in addition to a wireless laptop).

Connecting Computers to a Single Network

The number of ports on a router determines how many computers can be run off that router to access a single broadband connection. A router actually is a junction box that joins together a single network. A modem is built into the router connecting computers either wirelessly or through one of its wired cables.

Radio Waves Transmit and Receive the Signals

In much the same way as a wireless cellular phone, a wireless router hooked up to a cable or DSL internet connection uses radio frequency waves instead of telephone lines to transmit and receive networking signals. This allows transmission of data from one location to another. Data from the computer is translated into a radio signal and then transmitted. A wireless router receives the signal, decodes it, and then sends the information to the internet using a wired connection. The router also can receive information from the internet, translate it into a radio signal, and then send it to the computer. An easy description is to compare a wireless network to a two-way radio communication. Radio and television programs are broadcast in a similar way.

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