What do I need to create a wireless network at home?
1. A Broadband Internet connection
In order to set up an Internet-connected wireless network at home, you need a broadband Internet connection. Typically, you subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your connection. Depending on where you live, you might have a choice of service providers. Cable companies, as well as phone companies often offer broadband Internet service as part of a bundle that also includes TV and Phone services. The bundled services can save you money as compared to purchasing the services separately.
There are three ways that broadband Internet service can be delivered to your home:
- DSL: DSL is an abbreviation for Data Subscriber Line. This type of service is delivered to your home using your existing telephone line. The service is generally provided by your phone company, but it may also be available from third party ISP who shares the phone line with your phone company. DSL providers often offer an inexpensive “starter” Internet connection with download speeds of .5 to 1Mbps, as well as enhanced packages with faster download speeds. The download speed is limited by the distance from the phone company’s local office to your home.
- Cable: Cable TV providers also offer multiple tiers of Internet service. Internet service is delivered to your home over your existing cable. Depending on the cable provider, even the most basic cable Internet service is significantly faster – often 5 times as fast – as a basic DSL service, but it’s generally also more expensive. Enhanced Internet cable service can offer download speeds of 20Mbps or faster.
- Fiber Optic: In some areas of the country, you can get a fiber optic Internet connection. It, too, is often included as part of a bundle of services with TV and telephone services. Multiple tiers of Internet service can provide download speeds of 50Mbps or higher – if you’re willing to pay.
ISPs typically provide you with an Internet modem as part of your subscription. The modem decodes the Internet signal from your service provider’s network and provides an Ethernet connection for your network.
2. A Wireless Router
The heart of any home network is a wireless router. A router is a device that connects to your Internet service provider’s (ISP) modem. Its built-in hardware enables you to share your broadband connection with multiple computers and devices. More importantly, the wireless router contains the hardware to turn your home into your own personal wireless hotspot. If you have a desktop computer that doesn’t’ have wireless capabilities, you can still connect it to your network with an Ethernet cable using one of the router’s Ethernet ports. Some models include a feature that enables parents to control the content that their children view on the Internet. In addition, most wireless routers feature a firewall that can help protect all of your devices from hacker attacks on the Internet.
Tips for purchasing a wireless router:
- Although you may find less expensive Wireless G routers on the market, you should only consider purchasing a Wireless N router. Wireless N routers use the latest standards-based IEEE 802.11n technology. As compared to the technology in older wireless routers, Wireless N routers offer greatly improved speed, and more importantly, better coverage in your home. In addition, Wireless-N routers offer state of the art data encryption to protect your wireless data during transmission over the air. Don’t be tempted to save a few bucks by buying legacy wireless products.
- Purchase only Wi-Fi Certified products. Wi-Fi Certified products are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an alliance of more than 350 companies worldwide. Products that are Wi-Fi certified must undergo and pass rigorous tests that ensure seamless interoperability with other Wi-Fi Certified products. Click here to search for Wi-Fi Certified products. Look for the “Wi-Fi Certified” logo to identify which routers are Wi-Fi Certified N products.
- Purchase a router that is appropriate for how you intend to use your network.
- If you are looking for a basic router that has the latest technology, the Wireless N 300 Router (DIR-615) is an exceptional value. It includes all of the firewall and wireless security features found in more expensive routers but at a budget price.
- The HD Media Router 1000 (DIR-657) would be an excellent choice for most home networks. It features 4 Gigabit ports that can provide speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional 10/100 ports. The D-Link® HD Fuel® technology ensures that you can stream video content without your HD video breaking up.
- If you are a serious online gamer, the Xtreme N® Gaming Router (DGL-4500) is designed specifically for you. DLink’s GameFuel® technology prioritizes game traffic so that the performance of your game will not be compromised, even if others on your network are downloading music or video.
- If you live in an area that is congested with a lot of wireless networks in the more commonly used 2.4 GHz band, you might want to consider a dual band router such as the Wireless N Dual Band Router (DIR-815). This router supports simultaneous networks on both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. This allows you to use the 2.4 GHz network for basic Internet traffic and for connecting devices such as Smart Phones and iPads, and use the less congested 5 GHz band to stream music and HD Video without interruption.
3. Wireless Devices to Connect to Your Network
Although it seems to go without saying, remember that you will need devices that can connect wirelessly in order to round out your wireless home network. Finding them should not be difficult as most portable electronic devices, and virtually all tablets, laptops, net books and smart phones, already have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. Connecting them to your home network is simply a matter of enabling Wi-Fi on your device, “finding” your home network, and connecting to it. The next article in this series will cover in detail how to do that.
In a home environment, a desktop computer located in the same room as the router can be connected to one of its ports with an Ethernet cable. If you have desktop computers in other rooms, you may find it easier it to connect to your network using a wireless connection. If your desktop computer doesn’t have built-in wireless capabilities, you can easily add Wireless-N capabilities with a RangeBooster N® USB Adapter (DWA-140).
If you plan to share a printer with multiple computers, purchase one that’s Wi-Fi enabled. With a Wi-Fi connection to your network, you can place the printer anywhere in your home that’s convenient to everyone.
We hope that you found the information in this article useful. Be sure to check back here for more articles that will help you get the most out of your home network.