What is a Wireless Network?

Back in the early days of the Web, most households didn’t need a network. A family typically had just one computer, which was used to check email or browse the Web. Fast forward to today and it’s a far different picture. Computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, televisions, set top boxes, even kitchen appliances all need to connect to the Internet and each other.

Today the home network has become a necessity. In essence, a network lets multiple devices in the home share the same broadband Internet connection, as well as talk to one another. The most common type of Internet network in today’s home is a wireless network (also called Wi-Fi).

Wireless networking is the easiest and most affordable way to set up an Internet network. There are no obtrusive cables. And families are free to use their devices virtually anywhere in the home. In addition, new devices can be added to the network in minutes.

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What Makes up a Wireless Network?

Computers, tablets, and other devices connect to a wireless network via a wireless access point or wireless router. In Wi-Fi-based wireless networks, the access point or router acts as an Ethernet switch. All devices connect to the router, rather than directly with each other.

Here’s what you need to build a wireless network:

  1. A broadband Internet connection: To connect your home network to the Internet, you’ll need a high-speed broadband connection (i.e. DSL, cable, or fiber).
  2. A wireless router or access point: You’ll need to purchase a wireless router or access point. Also note that many DSL and cable modems today come equipped with integrated wireless networking capabilities; these are called wireless modem routers. If you have a wireless modem router, you do not need to purchase a separate wireless router/access point.
  3. Devices with wireless networking capabilities: Most newer devices today will have built-in wireless capabilities, either 802.11b/g, 802.11b/g/n, or even 802.11ac. These devices will be able to connect directly to the wireless router.
  4. A wireless network adapter to connect other devices in the home: An older laptop, television, or Blu-Ray player may not have built-in wireless support. In this case, you may need to purchase a wireless network adapter to connect to your wireless network.

How do Devices Connect to a Wireless Network?

A Wi-Fi-enabled device can connect to the network when it’s within the range of its wireless router. If you have wireless security enabled on your network, then you will need to enter the network password on each device that you’d like to connect to your home wireless network. After that, the device will be wirelessly connected to the router (and you will not need to re-enter the password each time).

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