World Without Wires: Wireless Networking
Besides your computer(s), there are so many devices now that can help simplify your life, or just bring enjoyment, without messy cables.PC World Staff | Tuesday, February 01 2011
Besides your computer(s), there are so many devices now that can help simplify your life, or just bring enjoyment, without messy cables. All you need is a computer with built-in wireless networking support or a wireless network adapter; an ADSL modem from your internet service provider and a wireless router.
The wireless revolution is here and it’s here to stay. Many mobile phones now have built-in Wi-Fi, so you can check your email, update Facebook and tweet from your couch. There are Wi-Fi enabled cameras and video cameras transfer photos and videos to your computer and chosen sharing sites. A lot of printers are also wireless now, and some Wi-Fi routers allow you to connect a USB printer and print wirelessly. Do I need to mention common wireless and connected lounge devices such as PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 for online gaming and media entertainment? The wireless Apple TV box, that can be used to instantly rent movies from the iTunes store, is looking set to revolutionise the video rental industry. You can even get Wi-Fi scales. The scales measure weight, fat mass, lean mass and BMI and instantly send these readings to a phone.
Welcome, N standard
Today, some ADSL modems offer built-in Wi-Fi router capabilities. The good news is that recent developments have greatly improved the throughput, signal strength and reliability of wireless networks. Last year, the wireless N standard was finally approved, which opened the door for further reach and faster data transfer speeds compared to the other Wi-Fi standards (a/b/g). So, the first step is to buy a router that uses the 802.11n wireless standard.
Choose a dual-band router, which will divide traffic over two areas of the wireless spectrum, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Routers send signals in the 2.4GHz range or 5GHz range. The ability to use both effectively opens up another channel, enabling the network to handle more data at faster speeds. A dual-band router would also allow you to put newer N-standard equipment that supports 5GHz on the fast track while keeping older gear on a slower 2.4GHz network, if you wish.
The advantage of the 5GHz frequency range is that it is less used than the 2.4GHz range, keeping interference to a minimum. Using a router operating in the 5GHz range will improve your chances of faster data transfer speeds.
A potential downside is that signal range is often not that great in this frequency. If you are looking to set up a network covering a large area, a router operating in the 2.4GHz frequency may still be your best choice.
Extending your network
Most home networks make do with the four Ethernet ports built into a typical router. However, if you are running a larger network or a small office network you may find yourself in need of more ports. This can be solved by adding a low-cost switch. The neat thing about switches is they can send and receive data at the same time. And if you run out of room on it, you could simply add another switch.
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