Routers, access points, usb wireless wifi adapter? Confusing!?

I'm confused. I know that my dad's comp is hooked up the router, as well as my laptop, that's hooked up to the modem (regulary old ho hum for broadband). Now, my laptop can go wireless but out where we live, the available networks are either weak or you some kind of password. I want to go wireless. Parents don't (they're afraid of info getting out and what not). So far I've heard about using an Access point (is this the same as a router?) that you hook up to the router and it acts like another comp accessing the internet but it'll send out a signal so that my laptop can access the internet wirelessly. Is that possible to do? Next, what exactly does a wireless usb adapter do? Does it find more networks out in my area? Enhance signal? This is all just confusing. I talked to my isp, Qwest, but they...well the two people that I talked to...sound a little clueless as well. Blind leading the blind. I am not at all that computer network savvy.

4 Answers

  • Taba
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer


    A USB or PCI or PCMCIA wifi adapter is to be installed on a computer so it can communicate with a wireless router or wireless access point so the computer can connect to a network and receive a connection to a shared internet.

    A Access Point connects to a wired network using a ethernet cable to a non wireless router so computers can connect to the wired network using there wireless adapters.

    A Router allows you to connect computers together to share not only a internet connection, but allows easy setup of a network to share files and printers. A wireless router lets you do the same thing but adds a built in access point so you can connect to it wirelessly.

    What you would want to do is purchase a wireless router to connect to your Qwest DSL Modem ans a PCMCIA wireless adapter for your laptop.

  • 1 decade ago

    A router is the device you use to connect multiple computers to a single ISP broadband connection.

    A router has a wired side that connects to the broadband network modem and the "local" side which your computers connect to. The local side of the router can be wired or wireless or both. The router provides all the smarts for your network. It provides a firewall, security, DHCP and loads of other features required to make you home network function. If you don't have a router, you connect a single PC to your broadband modem and the features the router provides come via the service provider network.

    Wireless - just replaces the wires. It's not a huge technical thing - don't make more out of it than it is. The key thing to understand about wireless is that there are basically two types of wireless. Broadband Wireless = wireless connectivity that is sold by Sprint/Verizon/AT&T wireless - which works similar to cellular telephones, i.e. works over a large area. Wifi = IEEE 802.11 local area wireless (this is what your talking about). Wifi coverage is a very small, like a 100 foot radius.

    An access point is a dumb device that allows wifi devices (computers) to connect to a wired network. If you have a wired network already, add an access point to have a mixed wired/wireless network. You don't add a wireless router with a wired router to a network.

    A USB wireless adapter is a gizmo you plug into a USB port to enable wifi access for a computer. You could use a wifi NIC (network interface card) or your laptop may have a wireless NIC built in to it instead of using a USB wifi adapter.

  • 4 years ago

    There is no way to know until you try it. For example, I have two almost identical laptops. One has an Intel wifi card inside. The other is an IBM branded card. When visiting a friend the Intel card has no difficulty with reception from one end of the house to the other. The signal is lost with the IBM branded card 20 - 30 feet sooner. I also have a usb wifi adapter. The signal strength is approx. the same as the IBM branded card. Remind your daughter than the wires for the wifi card are in the lid, behind the screen, of the laptop. Minimizing movement or using it on a desk may help reception. Some wireless routers have an adjustment in the software than allows for the signal strength to be increased.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Routers - these are the "traffic cops" of the network. They route traffic to specific area based on your request.

    Access points - these are areas that allow you to connect into a network. These can be wireless routers or just a booster.

    Usb wireless adapter - are usb enable wireless cards that allow you to connect to wireless connections.

    What you can do is place a wireless router off of the modem you currently have and then "lock it down" such that only you can get on it (using mac address filtering, limiting the dhcp addresses that are given out, and placing security encryption WPA).

    Those connection that you are picking up are probably your neighbors but they are too far away to be any use.

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