How to Get Wireless Internet on a Laptop

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Wireless networks do not only provide accelerated data transfer speeds and wider coverage areas but also deliver additional opportunities for computer users that utilize mobile computing technology via the proliferation of wireless access points or sometimes referred to as WiFi hotspots. This technology which centers on increased connection capability, secured data and work flow interaction, and extension and simplification of mission-critical activities is useful for both enterprise and personal computing purposes. This relatively new technology allows mobile and desktop computers to access network resources across wide distances using 2.4GHz frequency signals covered by the IEEE 802.11 standards. Taking into consideration the issue of line of sight, the distance that can be covered by a wireless network would roughly be around the area of 300 meters to one kilometer depending on its location and amplification which can boost its capability even further than one can imagine.

Materials Needed:
- Wireless router
- wireless NIC or AirPort card for Mac
- Internet connection
- laptop
Step 1
Newer versions of laptop or mobile computers already come equipped with a built-in wireless network interface card. Check your device’s documentation on how to activate it. Older units however do not come with this luxury. In these instances, you need to purchase a wireless NIC or AirPort card (depending on your machine) and insert it into the PCMCIA slot of the laptop.
Step 2
PCMCIA card installation is fairly straightforward and can be easily detected and installed by the Operating System. Be sure that the card locks in place when inserted into the slot to be read correctly by the machine. However, make sure that the wireless adapter is backward compatible to the 802.11b standard to allow wireless connection to older wireless routers.
Step 3
To configure connection for the Microsoft Windows-based machine, go to Step 8. For laptops using the LINUX Operating System, proceed to Step 12.
Step 4
Laptops using the Mac OS Operating system platform may be connected to the wireless network simply by activating the AirPort card. The wireless network will automatically be detected.
Step 5
Clicking on the 'Connect' button will prompt for a network key or password if applicable. Before typing in the password, make sure that the correct encryption type is specified.
Step 6
The network key usually is represented as a hex value. However, Mac OS X does not automatically convert the password to hex prior to sending it which means that the hex equivalent of the actual password must be typed in.
Step 7
Once the correct password is provided, the laptop is now connected to the wireless Internet. Open the Web browser and surf the Internet to check the quality of the connection.
Step 8
Microsoft Windows may or may not detect the wireless network automatically. For automatic detection, follow Step 4 to Step 7. To manually detect the wireless network, the SSID value must be known by the user.
Step 9
Click on the 'Start' button and select the 'Control Panel' option. In the Control Panel window, choose the Network Connections category. This should display the available network adapters in the laptop.
Step 10
Right click on the 'Wireless Network Connection' icon and choose 'Properties'. Click the 'Add' button under the Wireless Networks tab.
Step 11
Type the SSID value of the wireless network along with the other fields as well as the encryption and authentication data for the wireless gateway. Click on the 'OK' button. This should allow your laptop to detect the wireless network and connect to it every time the wireless adapter is turned on.
Step 12
To connect wireless under the LINUX Operating System, KDE desktop must be used. Go to YAST and select the 'Network Devices' category followed by the 'Wireless' option.
Step 13
Enter the necessary configuration information based on how the wireless network was set up. This will allow the wireless hardware in the laptop and the wireless router to communicate with each other.
Step 14
Set the active card to the wireless adapter like eth1 for example. Use either dial up or Internet to connect to the wireless network. Both options can be searched from the box in the 'Start' menu.