Networking Day 4: Wireless Router Setup

A wireless router is a wired router with 1 or more antennae. You should complete the setup of the wired portion before continuing. The router’s admin tool will have a wireless setup section that we’ll be working in today.

Speeds
Most routers and devices use the “G” form of wifi. It’s technical name is 802.11G. It runs at up to 55 Mbps (megabits per second). The “B” form runs at up to 11 Mbps. The latest version, “N”, runs at up to 600 Mbps.

The speed of your connection will be the lower of the router and the device. So, if your router is “B” and your device is “G” or vice-versa, the fastest you’ll go is 11 Mbps. Just like many other things, you network is only as fast as its weakest link.

AP Name & Channel
The Access Point Name is the name that will identify the wireless network. It will only operate on the channel you select. If you notice that something is interfering with your signal, change the channel. 2.4GHz phones are bad interfering with wireless networks, but changing the channel does the trick most of the time.

Wireless Security
Under the wireless section of your router’s configuration, you can setup your security. WEP is the most common type of security used. It uses 128-bit encryption, the same level used by websites that take credit card payments.

Select WEP from the drop down menu and give it a 13 character password. The better the password, the better the security. A good mix of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters is best. Try to use acronyms, like NASA or NFL, instead of words.

Windows and MacOS should have an icon next to the clock to setting it up. Tell it to connect to the AP name and it will ask for the password. Linux uses a utility called wpa supplicant which can be setup graphically or by the command prompt.

Where to purchase
You can get these anywhere. You don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles. The biggest question is whether you want wireless or not. If you’re going wireless, go with the “802.11G”.

One of the best places to purchase a used router is the flea market. It sounds a bit shady, but usually honest and good people work up there, and the price is 50% off the retail version.