Wireless Networking vs. Wireless Internet Access

Wireless Networking vs. Wireless Internet Access
Wireless Networking refers to the networking (joining) of multiple devices, which can be shared
wirelessly with other devices or other computers.
• Devices include other computers or shared devices such as a printer or data storage (hard drive).
• The networking (communication) between devices is accomplished without wires (cables)
• For each device to communicate wirelessly, it requires each device (or computer) have an
“Access Point” (access to the air waves)
o The Access Point makes the device (or computer) wireless by recognizing or
broadcasting wireless signals.
o This Access Point can be a formal “wireless” Access Point, a “wireless” adapter, a
“wireless router”, or a “wireless” card installed in the device or computer.
ƒ The Access Point is “wired” (directly connected) to each device, usually by an
Ethernet “Patch” cable, or a built-in component of the device.
ƒ The advantage of the use of an Access Point to connect a device is that only the
device need be left on.
ƒ This is in contrast to using the computer as the connection between the device and
o A computer can also act as the “wired” connection for an installed device.
ƒ Again, since it is connected to the computer by USB or other cable and installed
to the computer, it is “wired”.
ƒ But then the computer must be left on (see below) for the device to be available to
others on a network.
• Wireless Networking can make available the use of a printer which is too far to connect by USB
o Or use of a common printer by several computers (shared)
• Only certain devices connected to a computer can be networked wirelessly.
o If capable of being used over the network they must be configured to be “shared.
o The disadvantage of this is that the computer onto which the device is installed must be
kept on (not in either “Standby” (XP) or “Sleep” (Vista and 7) for it to be accessible by
others. Otherwise the computer must be restarted before the other Computer has
availability to the device/printer.
1 Wireless Networking vs. Wireless Internet Access
Wireless Internet Access refers to the availability of an Internet connection without wires.
• We are referring strictly to Internet use, such as for surfing, e-mail, or online computer or
program access.
o There are now many sites available to use in order to do word processing, create
spreadsheets, share calendars, control finances, store or back up data, and even access
workplace computers.
o The most common use is for accessing e-mail on your laptop while traveling.
• Wireless access requires the providing institution (hotel, coffee house, library, etc.) to have a
Wireless Router.
o This router “transmits” the Internet to anyone who has the proper equipment.
o The necessary equipment is:
ƒ A computer with either an internal “wireless card”, or a wireless adapter attached
via USB (or inserted as a PC card/PCMCIA card)
ƒ The wireless card/adapter must be compatible with the form of signal.
o Wireless, or Wi-Fi as it is frequently referred to, comes in various “protocols” (formats).
These protocols are called “Standards”.
ƒ 802.11a (54 mbps), 802.11b (12 mbps), 802.11g (54 mbps), and 802.11n (>100
mbps). The numbers in parentheses refers to data speed capability.
• For Internet access, since most is less than 12 mbps. all the adapters are
ƒ These different formats reflect different speeds and distances.
ƒ 802.11n is the newest, fastest, has the best range, and is backward compatible
with 802.11b & g (meaning someone with b or g adapters can share the signal),
but not 802.11a.
• 802.11a is an isolated protocol.
ƒ Some computers internal cards are universally capable of using signals broadcast
with a, b, or g routers, thus they can also use n routers (since n, b, & g talk to each
• But those older cards cannot exploit the newest, 802.11n speed.
• There is no adapter or internal card which combines a, b, g, & n.
ƒ Most older computers today have 802.11g adapters, thus can use signals broadcast
from b, g, or n routers.
o Understand, devices communicate only as fast as the slowest component in the
connection. Thus if an 802.11b device connects to a 802.11n router, communication is at
only 12 mbps, or the slowest standard.
o Wireless Routers can transmit either “unsecured” or “secured” signals.
ƒ Unsecured uses no encryption thus can be accessed (or hacked) by anyone.
ƒ Secured network signals encrypt the information being transmitted, thus are less
susceptible to interception, but then are not accessible without the “pass code”.
• Most hotels utilize secured network access, thus you generally need a code
to use.
ƒ There are several forms of security, WEP or “Wireless Encryption Protocol”
(least secure), WPA or “Wi-Fi Protected Access” (more secure), or WPA2 (most
secure, but all devices cannot recognize it)
• There is another wireless alternative, cellular phone cards which provide Internet access.
o We won’t deal with those; they are entirely different…and expensive services used
primarily by business people.
2 Wireless Networking vs. Wireless Internet Access
Configuring the Wireless Connection
• Windows XP, Vista, and 7 have Wireless Configuration Managers
• When the computer has a wireless adapter installed, the Wireless Network Monitor appears in
the “Notification Area” (old System Tray…the icons at the bottom right on the Taskbar). If no
connection has been established, it will have a red “X” over it.
o Or Windows 7 may have an amber dot in front.
• When no current connection has been established, and a wireless signal is identified, a talk
balloon appears announcing “wireless networks are available”.
• Right-click on the icon and choose:
o “View Available Wireless Networks”. (XP)
o “Connect to a Network” (Vista and 7)
• On the Wireless Connection window which appears, the wireless network (or networks) appears.
o Select the one you wish to use, then click on “Connect” at the bottom right.
o If it is a secured network (“security-enabled” is displayed under the name), after clicking
”Connect” it will then display a box into which you place the “Pass Code” or “Network
o Once the key is confirmed, it informs you that you are connected, and displays a window
asking if you want to connect automatically when available.\
o The red “X” or amber dot disappears from on top of the icon.
• The first time you open Internet Explorer (or the browser), it may display in the status bar (at the
bottom), “detecting proxy settings”, and then the Home Page will be accessed.
o For most public establishments, the first time you access the browser, an Internet window
may appear asking for the code (hotel for example). You customarily get that at the time
of hotel registration, or upon requesting (and paying for) the service.
• You now have Internet access. From here you can now perform any Internet activity
o Web mail, surfing, pay bills, etc., even VoIP (telephone over the Internet).
o Be aware these are “Public” access routers, and hacking is a potential risk, though usually
minimal occurrence.
ƒ Do not click to install any questionable software, programs, or give permissions
unless you have been advised to do so by the establishment.
o If you wish to use your own e-mail program such as Outlook Express or Outlook,
Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird (Firefox’s e-mail program), etc. you
will need to configure these programs, for example your Outlook Express Account,
o Remember: NEVER use these public accesses without an active up-to-date antivirus
program, and preferably a firewall.
3 Wireless Networking vs. Wireless Internet Access
Configuring the computer e-mail program to access and send e-mail.
• Most, but not all, will access an e-mail account without change.
• It is the “sending” of e-mail which is most commonly blocked without proper configuration.
• To configure this, you must understand e-mail account configuration. For configuring the e-mail
program to send and receive e-mail, you need:
o User ID (usually the first part of the e-mail address
ƒ But for some it requires the entire e-mail address (EarthLink is an Example).
o Password
o Incoming Server address POP3 (usually contains a term followed by the domain, such as
ƒ These settings can be obtained from the Internet carrier’s home page under help
or support, or by calling technical support.
o Outgoing Server SMTP (similarly includes a term followed again by the domain, such as
ƒ Again, these settings are obtained from the Internet carrier’s home page help or
ƒ Many require special security settings.
o Many Internet Providers now have special server addresses or instructions to set up the
account to be used from ANY connection.
ƒ In the past, e-mail could be “picked up” from any account, but to send mail out
you had to change the SMTP to the current ISP being used.
ƒ Now, because of the vast availability of Internet access, most have redesigned
their systems to accommodate access by other means than the ISP’s own
• To change (or set up) configurations in Outlook Express, Windows Mai, or Windows Live Mail:
o Go to Tools, then Accounts.
o Double-click on the account (or highlight and click Properties on the right).
ƒ or choose New Mail Account
o The User ID, Password, and server addresses (incoming and outgoing) are found under
the “Servers” tab.
ƒ If a new account, a wizard walks you through.
o Most carriers require checking the “My server requires authentication”, and then clicking
on the “Settings” button.
ƒ Choose either “Use the same settings as my incoming server”, or “Log on using:
and place the appropriate information (from the ISP’s instructions).
o Changes may need restarting either Outlook Express, or the computer itself.
• Some establishments require reinserting the password every day or even every time you wish to
o Hint: In that situation, always try Internet Explorer before attempting to access your email. It prevents the e-mail program from stalling out, giving a cryptic connection
message… due to inability to reach your carrier (being blocked until proven authorized
by the current service).