Installing a wireless network in a home or office may sound like it takes a degree in computer science. Wireless technology, however, has become so simple and user-friendly that almost anyone without advanced knowledge or special skills can do it.
Wireless, or Wi-Fi, is the easiest and cheapest solution for people who need to use an Internet connection in different areas of a home or office.
The cable modem, for example, may be in the family room. Family members may now need computers in bedrooms or a home office. Someone may even want to work from the deck, porch, or backyard.
Years ago, that usually meant drilling holes in walls and floors to string cable and wire-up the other computers. And it took time and patience for complicated configuring of each computer s settings.
We ve just gone wireless at home, with desktop computers in different rooms on different floors sharing an Internet connection. It s pleasant to grab the laptop and check e-mail, chat with friends, or view web sites while sitting on the front porch, the sun deck, or in the backyard.
The work took less than an hour and the gear cost about $200 but only because two of the computers were old models without Wi-Fi hardware already installed. With newer wireless-ready computers, the cost would have been below $100.
A wireless network broadcasts an Internet connection, using old-fashioned radio transmitter and receiver technology. Any computer equipped with a wireless network adapter, sometimes called a wireless NIC (network interface cards) can tune in.
Those two older computers in our place both needed wireless adapters, which are simply small radio transmitters and receivers.
The old laptop took a wireless adapter that looks like a thick credit card, and slips into a slot in the side of the case. The old desktop needed a wireless PCI card that slides into a socket inside the box-like system unit.
The other main requirement for a Wi-Fi network is a wireless access point or a wireless router.
A wireless access point is the base station for a Wi-Fi network. It s a little box with flashing lights on the front and a socket on the back to connect a cable from the modem that delivers your high-speed Internet access. Antennae on top broadcast and receive signals to the wireless adapters in the other computers.
A wireless router is a wireless access point with additional capabilities.
Local stores and Internet sites sell all the components for a wireless network separately. They also offer kits that include wireless adapters and an access point or router. You sometimes save money by buying the kit.
The packages include a CD with all the necessary software, and an installation program that leads you through the steps with simple understandable instructions.
For more information, check an excellent tutorial on setting up a home Wi-Fi network at