Techno's please - wireless technology

Submitted: Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 17:54
ThreadID: 8222 Views:2133 Replies:10 FollowUps:10
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Hoping with so many people visiting this forum that someone can help clear the fog that has slowly settled on my shoulders...

We're looking to replace our aging desktop PC with a nice new, fast notebook. Specifically want a laptop because with a new baby coming we're losing our 4th bedroom/office and we don't want a desktop PC "decorating" our family or lounge room.

Next issue is that the 2nd phone line which we use only for internet dial-up connection is in the 4th bedroom so we'd have to get it relocated to a more central area. Then I hit on the idea of going with wireless technology so we could use the notebook around the house/patio without having to worry about cables between modem and phone jack, or relocating the phone line. With me so far???

Then I'm thinking OK, if we're going to upgrade lets drop the 2nd phone line altogether and get broadband (yippee!). So I call Telstra and they tell me that wireless modems are not yet available for Broadband. This is where I get confused. Do they mean, not available through Telstra or not available at all? If it is available, can I get an internal wireless modem (Broadband compatable)???

Someone pleaseeeeeeee help!

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
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Reply By: Boobook - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:10

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:10

You should be able to get a wireless broadband modem from most computer stores or say Dick Smith.

I think D link make one. Generally wireless hubs are stand alone or integrated into the broadband router, integrated is cheaper and easier.

If you proceed you should turn WEP on in the router / hub and PC card. ( do this after you get it all working).

If you intend to run kids games ( if you have other kids) on the computer watch the video graphics card on the laptop, often they do not have a powerful graphics processor for games ( but will be ok for everything else.)

If you go ahead with the broadband / wireless and have a normal ethernet on the laptop I recomend the following procedure of one step at a time.

Connect the router to the DSL line ( don't forget to buy line filters).
Connect the PC directly to the router.
Make sure that DHCP is active on the PC ( the default in XP) you can check "start/connect to/show all connections/local area connection
then click on Internet protocol (TCP/IP)
select obtain IP address automatically.

Then when you get this going go wireless with the same config. The PC card installation should guide you through this.
Then last of all secure the line with WEP encription which will stop your neighbours using your line.


AnswerID: 35826

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:35

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:35
Thanks Boobook,

Sounds like the Telstra sales rep gave me a bum-steer when she said I couldn't access broadband through wireless tech. This really confused me because when shopping around for the notebook, all the sales reps were asking if we had ADSL so I started thinking "why are they trying to sell me ADSL compatable wireless hardware if I can't use it!?"

What are the line filters you recommend for the DSL line?

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 25869

Reply By: Dave - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:18

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:18
Hi Melissa,
Ihug internet service provider has broadband that operates through the one phone line so you do not need another line for your phone.
A modem is supplied and your internet phone number has one digit that is different.


AnswerID: 35828

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:38

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 18:38
Thanks Dave,

Yep, I know all that already...hence the attraction of broadband. The question was whether or not I can use wireless technology with broadband. Telstra rep said no, not yet available but others are saying yes.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 25870

Reply By: TravellingVegemite - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:08

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:08
It certainly can be done. I have the exact setup you're after, and I have only 1 phone line.

I have an ADSL Router hooked to a wireless access point. I then can use my laptop anywhere in the house (& yard) and be on the internet and share files etc with my wife's laptop. Her laptop has a PCMCIA wireless card, but mine has wireless networking built in. Try to get your laptop with wireless built in as it seems to have a better signal - I assume the antenna built into the computer somewhere is larger than the little one on the PCMCIA card.

Any good computer store should be able to set you up with an ADSL router and a wireless access point. I believe you may even be able to get one device with both of these features built in.

AnswerID: 35833

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:27

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:27
Thanks Roger,

You've put my mind at ease. The notebook we are looking at has built-in wireless. Still doing our homework on the ADSL router but will probably get the lot off the same company. Having outlined exactly what our requirements are one would think the IT co's can put together a suitable package for us. However, never assume anything so I need to have a good understanding of what does what before we part with our hard earned $. What do you mean by wireless access point??? Haven't heard this mentioned before. I just assumed we could connect the ADSL router to our spare phone jack or is there more to it than that?

BTW, how have you found your system...happy with it? Any probs?

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 25872

Follow Up By: TravellingVegemite - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:32

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:32
Hi again Melissa

A wireless access point is basically a box with an antenna (or two) that plugs into a computer network, thus allowing wireless access into the network. It's usually only small; a little smaller than an average clock/radio, and has little flashing lights on the front showing network activity.

In my case, the access point plugs into the ADSL router instead of a network, which connects to the internet. The router is about the same size as the wireless access point, and has the same flashing lights showing network activity.

I bought the access point with my Dell laptop (inspiron 5150), so it is Dell brand as well. My ADSL router is made by Dynalink (RTA300), and has a built-in firewall that I can configure to stop hackers getting into my computer through the internet (something to keep in mind when you're permanently connected). My router also has a built-in network switch that allows other computers to plug into it as well, thus accessing the internet and the wireless computers.

As I said before, I think you may be able now to get a combined ADSL router/wireless access point, but try to get the firewall feature.

Speed of wireless network is much slower than a wired network (11-54mbps compared to 100mbps), but don't let the sales people talk you into spending much more money on faster wireless as the 11mbps is approx 11,000kbps and the fastest ADSL is 1,500kbps download. So if you are using primarily for internet, then it is a lot cheaper to stay with 11mbps.

The only need you would have for faster wireless access, would be if you did lots of transferring of large files between computers over the wireless connection.

I hope this helps.


PS Make sure you configure your wireless network with data encryption (WEP) so that none of your neighbours can use your internet connection with their computers. Basically this is a password that you put on the access point to stop unauthorised use.
FollowupID: 25895

Reply By: Brad - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:26

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:26
I recently changed my dial up connection to wireless ADSL broadband - it was easy. It enables you to use the one phone line for broadband and your phone. You need to insert filters on each phone line but that is easy and your ISP should advise you. The broadband modem should attach via ethernet cable to the wireless hub. You may wish to investigate how your printer will fit in (it may be able to go into the wireless hub via USB or you may be content plugging it directly into your laptop when you want to print).

My 5 cents worth:
1. At least look at Apple for your new notebook After 10 years of putting up with Microsoft error messages I wish I had 'changed over' 10 years ago. 'No' viruses, 'no' error messages - its like my Landcruiser, its just the best for only a little extra :-)
2.The apple wireless system is called 'Airport Extreme'and works like a dream. Having said that most of the wireless systems seem to work pretty well. Harris technology I have found to be generally helpful people if you must go with a pc.
3. See - there are other options than bigpond - I thought changing my email address would be a hassle, but it was okay (Idon't need it for business however).

As the salesman said as I walked out of the computer store with my hundreds of dollars of wireless gear: "good luck".

AnswerID: 35835

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:33

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 19:33
Thanks Brad. I've been talking with HT quite a bit have been steered towards them by someone else. So far, they been very helpful.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
FollowupID: 25874

Follow Up By: Russell Terrano - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:10

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:10
I'm afraid to say that the Mackintosh's are the most technically competant personal computers ever made, unfortunately it would however be like buying a TATAowski 4WD, no one else has one, youd be an orphan.

Me , I've got a Bigpond cable modem into a Belkin wired/wireless router, my main desktop, wifes wireless laptop, sons wireless desktop and my wireless laptop. All works fine only the modem and router need to be powered on.

In Adelaide the citilan operates a wireless network covering Rundle Mall, the Universites and O'Connell Street.

aint' life fun.

Then I plug a data cable into my cdma $1 per 5mins after hours at 14k and I can collect my mail anywere I can get a signal.

When it works its very good when it doesn't it's Bill Gates Fault.

FollowupID: 25892

Follow Up By: Brad - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:23

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:23
More and more of us orphans every day

FollowupID: 25894

Follow Up By: Brad - Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 08:53

Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 08:53
...oh and read about Macs and viruses...

FollowupID: 25907

Follow Up By: Member - Bob - Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 11:45

Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 11:45
I have to take issue with you over your remarks about Apple.
At my office I have a wired Windows network of seven computers. At home I have a wireless network of mostly Macs, but also a couple of Wintels (superseded ones from the office).
The Airport Extreme base station is entirely compatible with both Apple and Wintel computers simultaneously. I can have music streaming across the network- different tracks on different computers as well as browse internet etc. Software is compatible across platforms and I have no trouble with documents, images, songs etc on both platforms. I'd have to say that the Apple equipment is more reliable, easier to maintain and run, and generally more rewarding to use.
Saying that Apple owners are like orphans is like saying that BMW owners (being a minority) are like orphans. Sure, if you have a Wintel you are always going to be asking someone for help.
I'd encourage anyone with an open mind who is buying a new computer to at least have alook at the Mac operating system.Bob
FollowupID: 25908

Follow Up By: Russell Terrano - Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 14:47

Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 14:47
Bob don't get me wrong, the apple mac is superior, but for the average Joe it's not main stream, few dealers carry spares, addons or upgrades, not all software is available for the mac and in the past they were gernerally more expensive.

I am very open minded so don't get me wrong I've been in the IT industry since the late 70's working both here and in the USA.

Regards to all.
FollowupID: 25915

Reply By: Mad Dog Morgan (Vic) - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:52

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 22:52
Telstra! Hmmm!! There are a large number of ISP's out there offering ADSL so chose carefully. The whirlpool site will be of great help. The choice is yours but don't jump in.

As others have said...wireless is great and works well. I love being able to plonk myself down anywhere.

My Best Mates
AnswerID: 35871

Reply By: Member - Allan - Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 23:57

Friday, Oct 31, 2003 at 23:57
Melissa, Go and have a chat to Abacus. They do a wireless router modem / router kit for around $270. Some of the new notebooks have a wireless receiver built-in but one does come in the router kit. If you get a notebook with inbuilt Wireless card you can put the spare one in your old PC and network the two computers together. A networked system is great for backing up files and best of all it prevents the family fighting over access to the net. We have our whole house networked with ADSL and it is the best thing we ever did.Cheers
AnswerID: 35879

Reply By: Member - Bob - Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 11:52

Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 11:52
Melissa, the Apple Airport Extreme base station plugs into your broadband connection and allows multiple clients (Windows and Mac) to log on and share the connection. It is well priced, easy to use, and obviously well made.Bob
AnswerID: 35892

Reply By: Nigel (WA) - Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 16:53

Saturday, Nov 01, 2003 at 16:53
Hi Melissa

Just a quick note make sure you get 802.11a /5ghz, not 802.11b /2.4ghz and 802.11g /2.4ghz. You will get a better signal around the house with the 802.11a :)4x4 is my heart, pain and pleasure, but most of all just a dream for the meantime.
AnswerID: 35898

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Sunday, Nov 02, 2003 at 16:55

Sunday, Nov 02, 2003 at 16:55
Thanks to all who replied to my post. Plenty of food for thought and some very helpful suggestions. I'm sooooo looking forward to the "freedom" of going wireless.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 35972

Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Sunday, Nov 02, 2003 at 22:03

Sunday, Nov 02, 2003 at 22:03

in addition, you can get tri-band broadband routers/access points that handle all three wireless networking standards (802.11a, b and g), that way you are covering all bases (could be overkill though - but certainly food for thought) Look for units that handle WPA encryption. WEP is a joke in terms of security, so look at WPA as a minimum.
A new and more secure standard is in the pipeline aswell, 802.11i. So this is another thing to look for as some hardware is 802.11i ready (i.e. it will just require firmware upgrade once the standard is finalised and released). 802.11i, whilst including WPA, also has addtional security features.

On the notebook front, any Intel Centrino based unit would do the job. And seeing as it will be a replacement for a desktop, one with a big screen that can handle high resolution would be a good move. The Dell Precision M50 I have has a 15" screen that can handle up to 1600x1200, meaning plenty of screen real estate for those digital maps, DVD's, digital photos etc.
AnswerID: 35993

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