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Wireless Connection to Internet?

Q. On one of the shop at home TV stations they showed a laptop that the host could walk around with and be on the Internet. They said the Internet was built in.

Does this mean if I get that laptop I can be on the Internet wherever I go with it?

A. It sounds like the sales presentation may have been misleading.

To connect to the Internet you have to have some kind of physical adapter in your PC, laptop or pocket/palm device. You use that device to access an Internet connection somewhere.

That device could be a modem (which connects to your phone line) or a network card that connects via cable to a cable modem or hub or router or other device that is then connected to an Internet connection.

Or it could be a wireless adapter that lets you access your Internet connection without having a cable attached to your system.

It is important to note that you still need to access an existing Internet account. Even if you have a wireless card in your laptop, for example, all that card will do is let you access an existing Internet connection that you have set up in your house or office.

Here's the typical scenario. Say you get a high-speed Internet connection in your house - cable or DSL. You want to share it among a few PCs and your laptop. You can run cable from the cable modem (where the high speed Internet access originates) to the rooms you have PCs and plug your PCs and laptops into the cables.

Or you can plus in a wireless access point (kind of like a radio antenna) into the cable modem. Then you can put wireless adapters in your PCs and laptop and they will be able to tap into that access point without wires - for about 300'.

But just buying a laptop with wireless "built-in" will not automatically let you be on the Internet. You still need a source for that built-in wireless adapter to access.

You probably have heard of many "hot spots" springing up in town. These are areas where a company or organization has set up wireless access points and allows visitors like you in their vicinity to use their Internet access for free.

You will hear the term wi-fi used - short for wireless fidelity. You will also hear of 802.11b or 802.11g - these are specifications for wireless connectivity.

If you have a wi-fi enabled laptop you should be able to go to the Reading Garden of the downtown library, various museums and buildings in University Circle, StarPlaza at Playhouse Square and a growing number of places and use their Internet connection.

In some cities, coffee houses and fast food restaurants provide wi-fi access to try and get customers. I know of at least one restaurant in the Flats that provides wi-fi Internet access.

One caution. If you set up a wireless network in your house or office be aware that people within at least a 300' range of your access point can access your Internet connection and network.

You need to set up some security points so that intruders don't get into your network without your knowledge. It's not a trivial task to do. I would recommend having a professional assist you with it.

Answered by Tech Expert Dan Hanson

If you have computer or Internet questions, e-mail our Tech Guru at tech@ClevelandSeniors.Com

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