Setting Up a WiFi LAN the Easy Way, Part 1 of 2: Wired Components

General Introduction

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will probably offer to provide all of the equipment you'll need to connect several wireless (WiFi) computers to the Internet. If all of this equipment is packaged into a single box, we'll refer to it as a "Wireless Residential Gateway" device.

If your ISP must supply you with 2 or more boxes (or if you've previously obtained 2 or more such boxes from a prior ISP or technology retailer), it will be necessary to interconnect them in series, to implement the same logic. Once those interconnections are completed, you can treat the combination as if it were a single-box Wireless Residential Gateway.

Even though we refer to modern WiFi networks as "wireless" LANs, you'll need to use several special wires or cables; there's just no way to avoid that in most situations. For example, if your ISP is using "Cable Internet" technology, then you'll use a coaxial cable like the ones in common use with cable TV to make a connection into the "broadband modem" section of your Wireless Residential Gateway box. On the other hand, if your ISP is using "DSL" technology, then you'll use a telephone extension cable for that connection.

If you can't get a single-box Wireless Residential Gateway solution, then you'll use wired "Ethernet" cables to interconnect the various smaller boxes.

Almost every WiFi setup provides several Ethernet connectors for hard-wiring to nearby PCs, and you'll need to use at least one of those connectors during the initial setup.

As a general rule, your ISP will provide some kind of software that they will expect you to install on at least one of your PCs. That software is intended to help you set up your first Internet connection. It may also be helpful for accessing special services (like your ISP's preferred email server) that your ISP may want you to use. However, there is generally no REQUIREMENT that you install that software. Modern operating systems like Linux, Macintosh OS-X, and Microsoft Windows have built-in support for WiFi and for Internetworking, so the extra software that your ISP wants you to install is generally not necessary.

The video information provides a brief overview of all of these principles and offers helpful advice and details. If you've already been introduced to all of this, use the button at the bottom of this page to skip ahead to part 2, describing the wireless components.