What Is a Wireless Network Adapter?

By Andrea Stein

Many of us use the Internet on a daily basis. You may wish to connect wirelessly to the Internet, or without a physical connection from your personal network to another network. You use a wireless network adapter to establish a wireless Internet connection.

Definition

A wireless network adapter is a computer hardware component device designed to enable computers to communicate wirelessly over a network.

Function

Wireless network adapters function by connecting to the computer via expansion card devices, or cards designed to expand computer functionality, such as memory cards or PC cards. You can also connect a wireless network adapter via a USB port on the computer or via an internal adapter already contained within the computer.

Process

Wireless network adapters pick up signals that a wireless network broadcasts. A Wi-Fi "hotspot," or location, typically broadcasts radio waves through an area with a range between 75 and 150 feet. A wireless network adapter within range picks up the signal and establishes a wireless connection.