Tech Friday: Wireless Networking

Wireless networking allows you to roam about an area with your laptop computer unteathered to a network connection…and (hopefully) your power cord, if you have a fully charged and functioning battery.

In buildings where it is difficult or impossible to run network cable, a wireless network allows you to connect to your local area network or the internet with much the same speed and convenience as you would with a wired connection.

In rooms where you want to set up a temporary network, such as a conference room, a wireless access point can be plugged into an existing wired connection to extend the network to laptop computers throughout the room.

Wireless gear from vendors such as D-Link, Linksys and NetGear is inexpensive. You can equip yourself with a wireless access point, and network card for a laptop for under $200.00. Speeds have increased from 10 megabits per second to 54 megabits and beyond. The D-Link AirExtreme series will exchange data at a theoretical 108 megabits per second with other AirExtreme units; that is, you need to have both an AirExtreme networking card in the computer and a router or access point from D-Link. This brings you into the realm of speeds similar to a wired network.

If you tried wireless a couple of years ago and were disappointed, get the latest generation of hardware and try it again. You will be amazed at the improvements.

A couple other ideas:

When you create your wireless network you have the opportunity to change the name of the “broadcast beacon”. Typically this is set with a default name like “linksys”. If you choose to change this, remember that the name will be visible to other wireless users, so don’t choose something obscene (like a bonehead neighbor of mine has), or something readily identifiable.

Once you have got your network connection running, satisfactorily be sure to turn on the encryption feature. Without this, anyone can connect to your network, just as if they plugged into a network jack.

Resource: Jeff Duntemann’s Wi-Fi Guide Second Edition

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