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How do I set up a wireless Internet connection?

Answer: Setting up a wireless Internet connection may sound complicated, but it actually pretty easy. Most computers and portable devices have built-in wireless adapters. Therefore, all you need is a wireless router and an Internet Service Provider.

Wireless routers come in several shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose – to serve as a hub for all multiple devices. Several companies make wireless routers, including Cisco, D-Link, Netgear, Siemens, and Apple. Fortunately, they all support Wi-Fi networking, so the manufacturer of the router is not important. It is more important to find out what Wi-Fi standard(s) the router supports. These include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n (released in that order). As of 2011, most wireless devices support the 802.11n standard, which provides better range and faster data transfer speeds than the previous 802.11g standard. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure the router you select supports 802.11n.

Once you have plugged in and set up your wireless router, you can connect to it with multiple wireless devices, such as desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones. However, you won't be able to connect to the Internet unless the wireless router has an Internet connection. Therefore, you need a cable or DSL modem provided by your ISP.

When you sign up for Internet service, your ISP will typically provide you with a cable or DSL modem. The cable modem connects to your cable outlet, while a DSL modem connects to a standard phone jack. Most modems have an Ethernet port, which is used for connecting the modem to a single computer or a router. Therefore, you'll want to connect your wireless router to your modem using an Ethernet cable. Many wireless routers have multiple Ethernet ports that are used for direct computer connections, and one Ethernet port labeled "Internet." Connect the router to your modem using the "Internet" port on your router.

Once you have connected your cable or DSL modem to your wireless router, your wireless Internet setup is almost complete. Your next step is to select a name for your router and secure your wireless network by following the instructions provided with your wireless router. Once you have set up a secure wireless network, you can connect to your router from a computer or mobile device. Just select the name of your router in the device's network settings and enter the correct password to connect to your network. Don't worry, you should only have to enter the password once for each device, since they will automatically connect to the router in the future.

Important: Some cable and DSL modems have built-in wireless routers, which means you may not have to buy a separate wireless router in order to set up a wireless network. Be sure to ask your ISP if your modem already has a wireless router built-in.

Published: July 5, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center