Wireless Network

Setting up a Wireless network at home

This article describes the basic steps to set up a wireless network at your home  and some tips on security, optimization, minimum configuration settings to keep your wireless network secure.

This post has been requested by a reader and if you have anything to add on or correct, please add on to the discussion in the comments section or in the Forum. We are asking you to do this because, we don’t have much knowledge on the home networking products, but would like to give it a try anyway.

Why is setting up a wireless network at your home exciting?

¤ In most homes, there would be more than one user accessing the internet. And wireless is the easiest and the most convenient way to share your internet bandwidth. Wireless should not lessen the speeds but you may experience a slight reduction of speeds.
¤ Even if you are a single user, you may want to access the internet from which ever place you like – without all the clutter of the cables. Since most laptops give a decent battery life, you could browse without your power cord as well. And from any place you want – like the sofa.
¤ More devices can be added to your home network without any additional hardware/ cables/ switches required. The wireless network would easily span 15-20 meters and could traverse the walls.
¤ Most of the devices are wireless enabled. And they work on a IEEE standard – 802.11a,b,g,n etc.

Which type of device you need to buy:

You could buy an Wireless-G ADSL Home Gateway like this. The advantage of a device like that is, you not only have the wireless network, you also have four wired ports to connect to. You can use this for one computer, scanner, printer etc. which do not come with a wireless connectivity (Some of them do).

Physical ports:

If you buy a device like the above, then you have 4 network ports (where you can connect the RJ 45 type of LAN cables – Cat 5E type) and you have the wireless radio, modem all built in. There is one port for connecting the DSL broadband line (Which is your telephone line and it may have a splitter – one line going to the phone and one line for the internet connectivity). Yes, you can browse the internet through broadband while simultaneously taking your phone calls.

Set-up and tips:

Initially, you may need to connect one computer (with a Cat5E cable) to the RJ-45 jack of this Wireless gateway (for configuration) and you could connect the phone line (with an active internet account) to the phone jack (RJ-11 connector) in the Wireless Gateway.

Now put the CD which came with your ADSL wireless gateway into the computer and run it. Mostly it should auto-run and guide you through the set-up process where you can complete the initial set-up of the modem. (While running the set-up, you will be asked if you want to change the user name and password – it is recommended that you do as most of the hackers know the default passwords and user names). If you are asked for IP settings, you need to get that from your ISP.

Then to change/ access the advanced settings, you need to launch a web browser and type the ip address given in your manual on the address bar and hit enter. You will be prompted for a user name and password – do enter. Then you will be taken into a graphical user interface where you can view and change settings.

There would be so many options that you can see here. We recommend that you at least set up the minimum configuration settings as specified below:

You would have a basic wireless settings. Go into that tab.

Wireless network mode: It should be in mixed. Keep it in mixed.
Wireless network name (SSID): This is the name of your network. Change the default name to something else (Like your name etc.). But dont use any confidential information here, as this would be visible for everyone.
SSID broadcast: It is suggested that this be turned off. For security reasons. This means that if any laptop is scanning for networks on the road, nearby your house – they cannot see the name of your network. (You can still access the network by manually typing in the network-name (SSID) in the ‘Connect to wireless network’ tab of windows). But if you are using MAC filtering (which we will come to later, you may not change this setting. But we recommend you to turn off.
Then save the settings.

Now go to the Wireless security section.

Security mode: The default will be WEP (It is a type of encryption). This is least secure. You should see more options like WPA-Personal, WPA II etc. The last one is the most secure. Try setting this to one of the WPA settings, and check if your computer is supporting that. In case it does not work, you could come back to WEP encryption.

Now go to the Wireless network access section.

(Before adjusting the settings in this section, you need to know about the MAC address. A MAC address is a permanent physical address of a device. You can identify a device using a MAC address. To find out the MAC address of your computer, go to the Start Section, click ‘run’. In the box which appears, type cmd and press ok. You will see the command prompt. There, type the command ipconfig /all and press enter. Your MAC address will be referred to as the physical address and will be like : 00-D1-BA-F2-G3-89).

Now select the ‘Permit only listed computers to access this network‘. This is a safe option as only those MAC addresses specified by you here will be given access to the internet/network. Here enter the list of MAC addresses you have for your PC’s etc. and save the settings.

Some gateways like the one we are describing now has a ‘Internet Access Policy’ or Firewall settings that can be configured. You can go into that and you can allow access to internet for certain computers (block certain PC’s inside your network itself, and allow only local file sharing). You can also block access to certain websites that you can specify in this section. You can block access to certain key-words also. If you are a doting parent, these options might be useful to you.

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