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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Laptop wireless connection with a tower best way to do it is?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26783points) September 6th, 2010

If you have a cable modem to connect your tower to the Internet but you want to connect a laptop wirelessly off the cable modem how would that be done? To have a wireless connection for the laptop would the tower PC have to go wireless too or is there a way to have a hybrid connection; the tower direct to the cable modem and a wireless router for the laptop?

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8 Answers

majorrich's avatar

really the fastest and most secure for both laptop is a wired connection, wireless certainly is more convenient for laptops beacuse it cuts a cable outof using it and makes it mobile, at the expense of speed and security. a tower that doesn’t need to be moved would benefit for speed and reliability of a wired solution unless placement makes it impossible.
most wireless routers have st least a few sockets for wired connections which I personally use fo my storage server and my printers, and stationary computers if I had any.

FR07en's avatar

You would need to insure that your cable modem is also a wireless router, then as long as your laptop has a wireless card either built in or installed (ie: “air card” ) You can access the available networks via that card’s utility or choose the Wireless Z config, if your laptop is running a Windows OS. If it’s running another system, such as Mac or Linux, they’ll have their own connection utilities, I’m sure. In the configuration process, no matter which OS you’re running, there’s sure to be questions concerning SSID (your modem/router’s actual name or ID) as well as which encryption (I recommend you be sure and encrypt your network,) method you’d prefer. Then as long as you don’t opt for the more in-depth process of configuring a new network, which would involve you understanding much more about the process, you should be able to hit “ok” or “apply” all your choices in creating your network. At that point, whatever OS you’re running should have a way to bring up your “network” or “connections” list, and there you should find your new network by its available ID. Hit “connect” or some similar key command on screen, and it will either ask for the SSID and/or encryption code you created when creating the network’s security settings, or it will automatically link up for you. Check your connection speed by double-clicking on the blinking monitor/tv in the systray/lower right-hand corner of the screen, by the clock, which will bring up the current packet sending/receiving speeds, if you’re using Windows OS. If should coincide with at least close to the top available speed advertised for your ISP package by your cable provider. If it doesn’t go into your connections, locate the connection you’ve established, hit “disconnect” and then reconnect. It’s possible that you’ve tapped into an existing GHz frequency somehow, and will have to adjust for it. This usually happens in most cases with mobile phone connections, but it’s possible for laptops to experience interference from things like cordless land lines in the house and such. If the newest connection isn’t any better, call your cable ISP and tell them the problem. Explain about your new network, and if necessary, let them walk you through the process, to insure that you haven’t missed anything in the network creation process.

jaytkay's avatar

What @majorrich said – a router will take care of it for you.

The link below shows the back of a typical router.
* The cable modem plugs into the port labeled ADSL/INTERNET
* Up to four computers can plug into the wired LAN ports
* More computers can connect wirelessly
* The router gets its name because it “routes” one internet connection among the clients.

P.S. Good point, @FR07, the cable modem might also BE a router, sometimes they combine the functions in one box and you do not need a separate router.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The cable modem is a Motorola and is not a router also, but it has both USB (which currently connects the tower) and a port for a network cable. The netgear wireless moden I am thinking of using connects by way of a network cable and had network cable ports in the back to connect at least 2 PCs via network cable to a NIC card. I am assuming the Cable modem will be ahead of the router or 1st in line, but I really don’t want to lose the direct connection to the cable modem via the USB cord but free the laptop to be mobile but connected to the Internet. Could that would be possible?

jaytkay's avatar

Correct, the cable modem is first in line. The signal goes:
Cable modem -> router -> client PCs

If the cable modem is like the model in this guide, it feeds a signal to the USB or the ethernet, not both.

Why do you want the USB connection? Functionally ethernet will be identical, the only downside I can think of is if you want the PCs ethernet for something else.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jaytkay It is an older Surboard the the ports in the back are very similar, one USB, and one eathernet.

Functionally ethernet will be identical, the only downside I can think of is if you want the PCs ethernet for something else. Would not the USB handle more bandwidth or handle it better than going through the ethernet cord?

majorrich's avatar

both usb and cat5/10 will carry data faster than the cable modem is capable of delivering. The advantage of using the separate router is you can make much longer wired runs using network cable. Of course I retired from that business 8 years ago which is centuries in the pc world. I do know USB was not originally intended to be used for internet like traffic, but it worked so everybody shrugged and said ‘ok fine’ and started making applications. Even the connector on the surboard started out as a service terminal but data worked pretty good too they re-wrote the book.

jaytkay's avatar


A couple of notes about choosing a router:

A USB port on the router is a feature you might want, allowing sharing a USB printer and/or hard drive with all the PCs.

Also, I would recommend the faster 802.11n over the older 802.11G, even if your laptop is G-only. Because anything you buy in the future will probably include N, and the price difference is negligible.

I would only go for 802.11G if you are aiming for an ultra-low price, in which case $5 or $10 US can fetch something decent off eBay.

Two Ethernet ports is kinda stingy, with technology what it is you may be plugging your TV and stereo and fridge in there someday.

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