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Novice Needs Networking Help!


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#1 thegraves

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 06:02 PM

Hi, I am ok with computers but a dummy about networking to an extent. I have a Dell PC with XP Home Ed. SP2 and a Toshiba laptop (probably 2003 model), XP Home Ed. The PC is connected to DSL service (ATT) via modem and want the laptop to join in on the fun.
It appears to me that my basic needs are a wireless NIC adapter for laptop, since I don't think it has wireless device built in (not sure how to tell) AND a wireless router.
Now, one thing that confuses me is what my options are. BTW, the laptop will be used by my daughter for basic surfing and email and maybe some light file-sharing, so I wanna keep this simple and cheap. Anywho, I know that ATT offers a networking service that is free with my subscription level and I have the option of getting a static IP for free as well....I would just need to obtain a router and card/adapter which I guess I could get from them or on my own. But, if I just go out and buy a wireless router and adapter from Best Buy or where-ever, do I even need ATT's wireless service? Static IP? Can I use the same modem I already have and just hook it to the router or what?
Any help, comments, or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

RG

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#2 gavinseabrook

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 11:45 AM

Well, if they offer you the wireless service for free, they will supply you usually with a 2wire modem. If you already have a 2wire modem (white and might have a light on the front that says "WIRELESS"). IF you have one of these modems already, then all you need to buy is the wireless card for your daughters laptop. I would recommend a Wireless G adapter. Usually these go for about 15-40 dollars. If you would like to tell if it already has wireless built in, go to Control Panel>Network Connections and see if it has a connection that says (Wireless Connection). If so you wont even need to buy a card.

As far as the Static IP, you really dont need one unless you plan to remote connect into your computer from other computers. Say if you wanted to connect to your PC from Starbucks with a laptop.

Double check what type of modem you have and get back to us, we will love to help.

Gavin Seabrook

 


#3 thegraves

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 01:02 PM

Thanks for your response. The current modem does not have a wireless option. Checking online it appears ATT will provide me with a "gateway" router plus modem?!? but I might have to pay $100.00 to get it. But, they will break it into payments I think.
As far as the adapter, I think I will need one since under Network Connections the only thing showing is LAN, ethernet plug disconnected. Anyways, I see some adapters at like $20 and some for $50 for the Wireless-G's. Is one for $20 as good as the others? I noticed some have 54/108/or more Mbps, is that speed, not necessarily range, right?
Thanks again for the help!

#4 Cyb3r_Ninj@

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 05:49 PM

You can probably purchase a Linksys Wireless Router (i.e. a WRT54G) for less than the $100.00 that AT&T is going to charge you for the 2WIRE home portal. In which case you can also get yourself a Linksys wireless-G USB adapter for your laptop and it will cost you about $29.99-$49.99 depending on where you purchase from. I usually tend to purchase from BestBuy because i have an account with no-interest financing.

You can find other brands that may be cheaper on the pocketbook if cost is a concern. D-Link equipment works well and is in the low-mid price range versus Linksys. Belkin is another good brand. Whichever brand you get, you should be able to get yourself a Wireless Router and a USB Wireless-G adapter for less than $100.00 that you would spend with AT&T on the 2WIRE residential gateway.

The good thing about going with a USB Wireless-G adapter is that you can easily swap it between different computers without having to open up the chassis and remove PCI cards.

However, if money is not necessarily a huge concern, the advantage of going with the 2WIRE home portal is that you would be using equipment that is consistent with your ISP and you would get the advantage of their technical support should anything go wrong with the equipment - they will just replace if they cannot talk you through the troubleshooting. You would still probably have to purchase a USB Wireless-G adapter for the laptop, which would work out to another $29.99-$49.99 on top of the $100.00 for the home portal. Another advantage is that if there are network problems, its easier to troubleshoot with less equipment. Adding a Wireless Router into the network topology means that there is one more device to manage and troubleshoot if there are network problems.

So do a cost benefit analysis based on your budget and how comfortable you would feel configuring and managing all the equipment involved in your home network. If you want to have the security of being able to contact AT&T at any time for support, i'd stick with their equipment and just add a USB adapter for your laptop. If you want to go cost effective, you can probably purchase all the equipment you need to make your wired LAN into a wireless LAN for less than what AT&T will charge for the 2WIRE (plus the additional cost of the USB Wireless-G adapter); this just means a little more complexity on your network, but if you are comfortable working with the devices, it will probably work out to be more cost-effective.

Edited by Cyb3r_Ninj@, 02 January 2008 - 05:50 PM.

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