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Building Your Wireless Network At Home

Get rid of wires and connect all your devices at home into an intelligent network that shares your broadband Internet access, printers, storage and multimedia across different computers and devices.

Here's What You Need To Build Your Dream Wireless Network At Home

The Essentials

A broadband modem that connects to the Internet, which can either cable modem or an ADSL modem from providers. This modem is connected to a wireless router, the "heart" of the home wireless network. It is the control centre that "talks" to all the devices in the wireless network, and also connects your home network to the Internet. It lets all your computers surf the Internet at the same time. A media centre PC with a built-in TV tuner that can function as an entertainment hub, for recording television shows and storing an entire library of music tracks. You can of course, use a normal computer.

Supplementary Resource

Some desktop PCs, and older notebooks may have to be fitted with a wireless network adapter to "talk" to the router. These adapters can be a USB device with an antenna. New notebooks that are labelled as "Intel Centrino are Wi-Fi compatible out of the box. You can share information between the computers, using the wireless network.

A printer can be connected to one of the. computers on the network where it can be.shared  by all the other computers. Or, install a print server in the house fitted with wireless network adapter - this means it can work on its own and you do not need to keep a computer powered up just to print documents An Internet Protocol (IP) web camera can transmit the images to a web portal ideal for keeping an eye on things at home.

An IP telephone - which looks like any cordless phone, and works similarly ~-.-can be installed and used to make VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls using services such as the popular Skype. An media adapter device that can wirelessly "fetch" video, photos and music content from any computer and output them on a television or hi-fi system. Use a device called a media  media extender to transmit content from a media centre PC to the living room. Additionally, a game console can also use a wireless adapter to connect to the network, and hence to the Internet, for online gaming.

Benefit From A Networked Home

The basic building block of a digital home is the wireless network, which lets you link up all the computers in your house - whether desktop PCs or notebooks - in a network without any cabling needed.

Get Connected

The first step is to get a broadband Internet connection because it allows for faster downloads of files. You can, for example, stream movies on demand with a broadband service -something impossible on a dial-up connection. The second step, which is the tricky part, is getting all your computers to talk to each other. Buy a wireless router and connect it to your broadband modem, as well as to a computer for the initial installation - using Ethernet cables.

(There are many leading brands for wireless routers, including Linksys, D -Link and SMC. They also offer integrated 2-in1 devices that combine a wireless router and a broadband modem.) Install the supplied set-up software on the connected computer, and follow the onscreen instructions to get the wireless network up and running.

Computers running the latest Windows XP and Macintosh OS X operating systems will make it easy to install the network, but you may need to call your Internet Service Provider for certain information needed during the installation process. The router is the "heart" of your wireless network, and it opens up the possibilities for your digital home.

The router basically carpets your entire house with the wireless network. It's not rocket science to install a wireless router anymore, and the prices are now as low as US$50. Your wireless network uses a radio frequency standard that is popularly known as Wi-Fi. Each computer or device - like a PDA - that you want to include in the network, must be Wi-Fi capable.

Most new notebooks are wireless-ready, but for your desktop computer you may want to buy Wi-Fi adapters that plug into a universal serial bus (USB) port. The most important benefit is no more fighting over who gets to surf the Web - everyone now gets to share the Internet connection from his or her computer, from anywhere in the house.

Networking Benefits

  • Apart from everyone having access to the Web, there are other things you can do with a wireless network:
  • Share files between the computers, or even use one of them as back-up storage for all important data. Just view the folders on the networked computers on your desktop, and drag and drop files into them.
  • Play music and movies stored on the computer with the sound piped from your hi-fi system. There are media streaming devices that act as the bridge between your computer and the usual home entertainment systems. Or, get a full fledged media centre PC running the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition - a computer that also acts as a television, a PVR (personal video recorder) and a music jukebox-to fit into your living room.
  • Share peripherals. Connect a printer to the network, for everyone to share. Just remember to tweak the printer settings to allow for printer-sharing.
  • Install an Internet Protocol (IP) web camera and link it to the network. You can see what your child or pet is up to when you are at work.
  • Make a phone call over the Internet using software like Skype. It is cheaper compared to traditional IDD services, but the service may require subscription fees to make calls to regular telephones.

Tip: As you go about setting up your wireless network, be sure to turn on the security features like WEP (wired equivalent privacy) settings when you install the software. This usually lets you set a password to keep intruders out. This will keep your neighbors from freely tapping into your network to ride on your Internet connection.


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