Getting Connected

April 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Setting Up Your Wireless Connection

by Michael Bodine

As I sat to write about using wireless, it quickly dawned that this was too complicated to jam into the space available, so, this month, we have an overview. Later, we’ll work out details of completing wireless set-up, first your laptop computer to use at the library or in coffee shops, then setting up a router at home. That way, I hope to keep the technical overload in “byte”-sized chunks!

If you’ve got a desktop computer connected to the internet, you’ve got what you need to play games, exchange messages and pictures, research, watch videos – you’re all set! You can’t lug your desktop around to use elsewhere. Likewise,, a laptop computer plugged into the modem provided by your Internet Service Provider (like BellSouth or Comcast) also provides what you need to sit at home to work. Laptop, desktop, both very similar.

However, with a laptop, you can use it wherever your lap may find itself! Your laptop is mobile, not tied to one spot. There are a handful of things needed to get on the internet without a wire: an Internet Service Provider (ISP); a modem (DSL or cable); a router with wireless (although some modems do provide wireless connections as well); and wireless capability in your laptop.

Most ISPs do not want you to have multiple computers on your connection, and so will only help you if there is NO router included in your set-up. AT&T will charge you an extra monthly fee if you want them to support this.Comcast typically will ask you to remove the router if you need help. However, both companies will generally assist you in the basic set-up of a router with their modems, if only by providing articles on their web sites to help.

Whichever ISP you have, you will have to use their modems, either paying a monthly lease or buying them outright. The lease option is good, because about the time you think you should have just bought it, something will go wrong with it, requiring replacement! Routers with wireless capability are widely available. Chu’s doesn’t seem to have any, but Walmart does, so does Radio Shack, Home Depot, Staples, and most stores with electronics. The technical standard that wireless devices use is called IEEE 802.11, which comes in several varieties marked clearly on the box: 802.11a, .11b, .11g, and .11n.

Each is better than the previous, making 802.11n the fastest/best type of router. You can spend anywhere from $40 to about $150 for most such routers. The cheaper versions will serve most needs, unless you are an addicted online gamer – but if you’re one of them, you don’t need this article either!


Next time: using your laptop, wirelessly.

Michael spends his nights and weekends running around on Tybee helping folks get the most out of their computers, whether that’s fixing a problem, getting a new computer, or just learning how to use what you’ve got! Call him at 655-4361 or email to

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