How to Build a Wireless Network
Level of difficulty:
Wireless Fidelity or Wi-Fi standard is a term initially associated with wireless networks but eventually has evolved to reference products introduced by device manufacturers which support the implementation of networks using the 802.11 communication protocol standard. Needless to say, a device that carries the Wi-Fi mark, be it a router, network interface card, or even a mobile computer is capable of supporting the different wireless-based communication networks. Quite recently, this wireless networking standard has been boosted up with the introduction of cards that support gigabit data transmission speeds as well as longer frequency ranges between 2.4GHz to 5GHz. What this means for the average user is wider wireless network signal coverage combined with faster data transmission among network clients sharing resources and information.
- Wireless router
- wireless network card
- Web browser
- DSL or cable modem
- Internet connection
- Ethernet cable
The first step to building a wireless network is to purchase a wireless router and wireless network interface cards which support the same 802.11 standard. It is preferred that the router and the NICs are of the same brand. This will mean complete support for the communication layer of the network allowing the components to communicate better with each other.
The next step is to position the router on an elevated surface or mount it near the top of a central wall. This will allow it to broadcast at maximum range with minimum obstruction.
Connect the broadband modem and the wireless router using a Cat-5e or higher Ethernet cable. This will provide better support for data transmission operations. Connect one computer to any vacant port at the back of the wireless router for configuration purposes.
Turn on the broadband modem followed by the wireless router and then the computer system. Make sure to proceed to this in order to make sure that each connection is properly detected.
Check the documentation that accompanied the wireless router for the default IP address used by the device. Otherwise, click on the network icon in the taskbar and select the 'Support' tab. Take note of the Default Gateway IP address.
Launch the computer’s Web browser and type in the IP address of the router in the address field. This should bring up a login window requiring a username and a corresponding password. The default values should be indicated in the wireless router’s documentation.
After typing in the correct username and password, the router settings page will be displayed. Modify the default admin password to prevent other users from accessing the settings page and reconfiguring the router. Save the changes. This may cause the router to prompt you to log back in. Use the newly defined login password this time.
Replace the default internal IP address and subnet used by the router. This is done as an additional security layer to prevent unauthorized access to the wireless network. It also helps to avoid IP address conflicts on larger networks. Save the changes and log back in using the newly designated IP address of the router in the address field.
Proceed by changing the SSID value of the router. This is the name broadcasted by the wireless router to identify it across the network. Editing this value is also a means of enforcing network security. Use a unique SSID name.
Make sure to enable Wi-Fi encryption, a significant security layer for wireless networks. This allows for the generation of an encrypted network key required to gain access to the wireless network. Without this protection, any computer system that can sniff the wireless network can access its resources. Save the changes to implement the encryption process.
Exit the Web browser and turn off the computer, the wireless router, and the modem. Remove the Ethernet cable connection between the computer and the wireless router.
Turn on the devices as outlined in Step 4. The wireless network interface card should now be able to detect the wireless network. When prompted, type the assigned network password to access network resources.