Buying Guide: Home Wireless Networking

A secure wireless network makes sharing files between computers and devices (like a printer or iPhone) easy. Wifi lets you surf the Net using a modem and router, without messy cables. We look at how Wi-Fi works and the gear you’ll need.

What Is A Wireless Network?

A wireless network connects multiple computers and devices (printers, phones, iPod Touch, etc) together, without using cables. The devices “talk” to each other through a central hub — a router. This enables the computers and devices to:

  • Share files and documents.
  • Connect multiple computers to the one printer.
  • Enjoy multi-player gaming.
  • Load files from portable wireless devices, such as an iPod Touch.

What Are The Benefits Of Wi-Fi?

Wireless networks do away with messy cables. This leaves you free to wander around the house, while staying connected. New computers have Wi-Fi technology built-in, while older ones will require a USB adaptor.

Connect To The Internet

Most wireless routers come with a modem built into them. This enables all devices connected to the router to be simultaneously connected to the Internet.

Is It Hard To Set Up?

Not at all. The latest generation of networking gear (routers) comes with easy-to-follow wizards that guide you through the process. Simply plug in, follow the prompts and you’re away.

What Are “Standards”?

Wireless technology (Wi-Fi) is available in a range of standards. These refer to factors such as the data transfer rate and the operating frequency. The standard you choose ultimately affects your network’s speed and its range (distance):

  • The top standard today is 802.11n.
  • This offers faster transfer rates and more range than the previous 802.11g format.

Important Security Note!

If you do not take the necessary security steps, your network will be left wide open to anyone within range. They could gain access to files on your computers (this could include banking details, tax returns or passwords). They could also download illegal content using your Internet account.

Some, but not all, of the ways to secure your network include: