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wireless internet for my laptop

By susiefrenchtoast ·
I travel a lot and need an internet card for my laptop. I would like to get rid of the DSL (AT&T) I have at home and use the laptop internet card as the only internet card in the house. Can it supply internet to the 2 other computers in the basement? How does that work? Is there anything else I need to buy to make the signal reach the basement?

Thanks

Susie

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You need a router

by nepenthe0 In reply to wireless internet for my ...

The short answer to your question is: No. You need a router that will broadcast a radio signal.

I recommend Linksys, which has downloadable software that will autoconfigure your system. From your DSL modem, you run an Ethernet cable to the router, then another Ethernet cable from the router to your desktop computer.

The router broadcasts a 2.4GHz signal - each laptop needs a wireless adapter to connect to the router.

The Linksys system is inexpensive and reliable. Configured as described above, the router confers substantial additional security to your computer network.

Check out the Linksys router:

http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite?c=L_Product_C2&childpagename=US%2FLayout&cid=1115416825655&pagename=Linksys%2FCommon%2FVisitorWrapper&lid=2565536001B17

Also, check out the Linksys wireless adapter:

http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite?c=L_Product_C2&childpagename=US%2FLayout&cid=1154470123093&pagename=Linksys%2FCommon%2FVisitorWrapper&lid=2309339789B07

I have used both for a couple of years without aggravation, and they were easy to configure.

You may need a booster antenna on the router if the signal is weak in the basement (a vertical booster antenna increases the horizontal range by ~50%). You may need to experiment with the optimal placement for the router.

An expensive alternative will roll out in the next couple of years, called Wi-Max, basically a cellular network analogous to that used for cellular telephone service. With a Wi-Max adapter, you could connect to the Internet anywhere within range.

The range of Wi-Max is ~6 miles from the repeater tower. Urban areas should be well covered, but rural areas will have sparse coverage. The service is likely to be much more expensive than your current DSL, but it should confer broadband data transfer rates.

Current download broadband transfer rates are ~4mbps; upload rates half that. Ignore the hype, because you won't get faster transfer rates.

Rick/Portland, OR

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New 3G / Wifi router is what is needed

by robo_dev In reply to You need a [i]router[/i]

Take a wifi router and add a pcmcia slot to plug in an AT&T sierra AirCard, and you can make your own hotspot with ~1MBS of bandwidth in a 3G coverage area.

Linksys WRT54G3G is one of these:

WRT54G3G-AT is the model for AT&T users

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Couple of options

by robo_dev In reply to wireless internet for my ...

First of all, you can save yourself some money by buying a unlimited data plan on your phone and 'tethering' your phone to your laptop via bluetooth or USB cable.

Officially, AT&T does not bless this, but with the right WAP connection string settings, it works fine.

AT&T has told me that it does not 'officially support tethering' and they may even want to charge you extra to allow tethering, depending on your particular voice and data plan. (but with the right wap strings, the laptop tethered to the phone looks just like the phone to their network).

Tethering works great. I've got a Samsung A707 which I tether all the time via Bluetooth or USB when traveling. In 3G+ coverage areas I can get DSL-like speeds (around 1MBs).

You might want to make sure you can get 3G+ at your home before you dump DSL, because if you are in a coverage area where you only get 'Edge', you may be stuck with ~300K download speeds which aint much better than old dialup.

Now if, instead, you get a AT&T broadband modem such as a Sierra AirCard (the official method)....there are two ways to share this service in your house.

a) the easy but expensive way
b) the more difficult but cheap way

The easy but expensive way ($200-300) is to get what's called a '3G router'.

One of these is the Linksys WRT54G3G-AT.
(The AT means AT&T). Also D-Link makes the DIR-451 which is similar.

Basically this is a generic Wifi router with a PC slot to plug in your broadband modem.

Keep in mind that this is a fairly new product category, so many computer store newbies will think you're on drugs when you ask for this technology, as will anybody at AT&T.

http://sewelldirect.com/3g-phoebus-cellular-wi-fi-router.asp
http://www.cnet.com/topic-reviews/pc-card/router.html
http://3gstore.com

Plan B)

The free but messy and difficult way is to use Windows Internet Connection Sharing (ICS).

This would require that one PC have both a slot to plugin your AT&T broadband modem AND a slot to use for a Wifi adapter (or a wired ethernet adapter if you don't mind running cables to the other PCs).

ICS is not terribly stable, and the 'gateway PC' has to be on, or it won't work.

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Nice!!

by Grey Hat Geek In reply to Couple of options

Very nice Robo....

If you have the money, the 3G router would be the way to go!

http://3gstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=85&products_id=516

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Thoughts

by TheChas In reply to wireless internet for my ...

Just a few thoughts about this.

First, depending on the quality of your DSL connection and the quality of the wireless data connection, the wireless connection can be slower than your DSL is. Only you can determine if the slower speed of the wireless data plan is a problem for you.

Second, if you do go with the wireless data plan, get the USB and NOT the PC Card adapter. Most new laptops do not come with a PC card slot. And, you can use the USB adapter in other computers.
This also gives you the option of making a computer other than your laptop the host computer for your home connection.

Third, check coverage. Make sure the provider has coverage where you travel. Not all networks have good data coverage nationwide yet. It is changing fast, but you still need to make sure the plan you choose has coverage where you need it.

Fourth, what are the users of the other 2 computers going to do when you travel if you make the wireless data plan your only Internet access?

Fifth, I might be behind the times, but I have not seen any routers that take the wireless data plan connection directly. You need to select a "host" computer and set up Internet Connection Sharing on it for your home network. You likely do not want to leave your laptop on all the time and use it as the host.

As to your basement location, with the USB adapters you can usually get a remote antenna that plugs into the adapter. This would allow you to locate the antenna near a window or at least as high as possible.

Perhaps the best thing for you to do is set down with a sales consultant for the wireless data plan you are looking at and review the issues of speed and coverage. If you do need to have Internet access available at your home when you are traveling, check into the cost of a second USB adapter for your account.

Chas

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3G is obsolete and slow

by nepenthe0 In reply to wireless internet for my ...

Mobile broadband internet is becoming a reality with the new Wi-Max technology. It won't be cheap.

I have used 3G with Verizon; its coverage is spotty, downloads are agonizingly slow, and the service is expensive (25 cents a minute plus monthly fees plus access charges plus all kinds of creative bill padding).

You can expect the same creative billing with Wi-Max once it becomes available. The principal difference will be that Wi-Max (where it works) will provide transfer speeds comparable with current cable Broadband.

I offered Susie the least expensive of the choices. If her laptops have built-in adapters capable of receiving G mode Wi-Fi, she could avoid the cost of an external adapter. The link I gave her was for the trouble-free USB Wireless G adapter should she require it with her router.

Rick/Portland, OR

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