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Home Networking: The Missing Manual by Scott Lowe

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Chapter 3. Setting Up a Wireless Network

Imagine working away on your computer anywhere in the house—with no strings attached, footloose, and fancy cable-free. You can move from room to room with your laptop and still stay connected to the Internet. Stationary desktops can join in on the fun, too, since wireless networking works on all computers, big and small. No wonder WiFi (short for Wireless Fidelity) is the fastest growing type of network being used by people at home today.

WiFi networks come in three distinct varieties, formally known as 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g, but sometimes referred to casually as A, B, and G. Although they have important differences, which you’ll learn about in a moment, they all accomplish the same task: beaming data over radio waves. Each format also uses a central antenna to wirelessly communicate with computers, and in turn, each computer connected to the network needs to have a wireless networking card installed so it can communicate with the central station. By the end of this chapter, you’ll know a lot more about how all this works.

Along the way, you’ll get step-by-step instructions for setting up a basic wireless network and will learn how to secure your network to keep folks outside your home from piggybacking your network.

A WiFi Network’s Main Ingredients

As you learned in Chapter 1, WiFi, just like every other type of network, needs three things to fly:

  • A router. In WiFi’s case, this router not only works to connect your home to the Internet, ...

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