How to Set up a Wireless Network

By Techwalla Computers Editor

A wireless network offers enhanced flexibility and mobility. Desktops, laptops and other devices connected to the wireless network can access the network anywhere in your home or office. Besides, you can share files, devices such as printers and an Internet connection through a wireless network. Wireless networks eliminate extensive cabling. Here's how you can set up your own wireless network.

Things You'll Need

  • Wireless router
  • Cable modem
  • Cables
  • Antennas
  • Wireless network adapter(s)
  • Wireless LAN cards for desktops and laptops

Setting Up the Wireless Network

Step 1

Assess your requirements. Make a list of all devices required for creating the network. These include wireless routers, wireless network adapters and nodes, switches or hubs, cable modem, wireless LAN cards for desktops and laptops, antennas, amplifiers, firewalls, wireless bridges and cables. Three types of wireless network technologies widely used are 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. All equipment you buy should support either of these technologies, preferably 802.11g - the best performing standard of the three. Some of the basic devices that you will require for setting up a wireless network and sharing Internet connection on all computers connected include a broadband modem (cable or DSL), a wireless router, wireless LAN cards for all desktops/laptops and/or wireless network adapter(s) (nodes).

Step 2

Connect your broadband modem to the wireless router. You could connect the modem with the router using a cord (Ethernet or CAT5).

Step 3

Connect the wireless router with the computers. If your computers have wireless LAN cards, you can set them up to communicate directly with the wireless router. If you do not have wireless LAN cards, you will require a wireless network adapter per computer. In such cases, the wireless router will communicate with the wireless network adapter(s), which in turn will be connected to each computer. USB network adapters are recommended. These can be connected to computers through the USB port. Other adapters require Ethernet cable.

Step 4

Connect all computers in the network to each other. Again, if your computers have wireless LAN cards, you can set them up to communicate directly with each other. However, if they are not equipped with wireless LAN cards, you will need a wireless network adapter for each computer. In such cases, the network adapter (preferably one that has a USB interface) can be connected to each computer and its antenna can be used for transmitting wireless signals.

Configuring All Devices and Computers

Step 1

Configure the wireless router. This can be done by connecting the wireless router to any computer. Usually, an Ethernet cable is provided with a wireless network. One end of the Ethernet cable should be connected to any of the ports of the wireless router (except for ports labeled Internet or WAN). The other end should be connected to the LAN port of the computer. Open your browser and type in the admin URL. This will be mentioned in the router's user manual. It would also mention a login name and password required to access the router's admin site. Once logged in, follow the instructions to configure your router and set up an SSID (a unique name for the wireless network).

Step 2

Configure each wireless network adapter, if any. If you have Windows XP installed on your computers, the system will automatically detect the network adapter as soon as it is connected. In other cases, you may have to install specific drivers. Ensure that you get a drivers' CD along with the network adapter. Next, you may have to insert the installation CD to configure the adapter. The CD will take you through the entire installation process.

Step 3

Ensure that the broadband modem is configured for the Internet. It not, refer to the broadband modem's user manual for the configuration process.

Step 4

Once the network devices have been configured, your operating system should show a wireless network icon in the status bar (at the bottom of the screen). The process of connecting computers to a wireless network may differ depending on the operating system installed. Refer to your operating system's help file for details. However, the connection process in Windows XP (and most other Windows operating systems) is explained below.

Step 5

Click on the wireless network icon. A list of all wireless networks available should be displayed. This will include the wireless network you have set up. Look for the SSID entered while setting up the wireless router. If the network is not listed, refresh the screen or restart all devices.

Step 6

Click "Connect" after selecting the wireless network. You may be prompted to set up a network key (a password) for accessing the wireless network. This key is required by all users to connect to the wireless network.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your wireless router at the center of the network. This ensures optimal performance.
  • To minimize the hindrance with your wireless network settings, try to keep the wireless router at a considerable distance from other electronic items such as microwaves, cordless phones and television.
  • If the procedure of setting up a wireless network is not clear to you, than it is advisable to get it set up by some professionals. You can also call wireless hardware specialists for setting up your wireless network. In any case, always refer to each device's user manual before installation.
  • Ensure that devices such as wireless routers have security standards such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). Wireless networks are vulnerable to security threats. It is thus important to find products that incorporate additional security measures.