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What is Wireless Networking?

Katharine Swan
Katharine Swan

Networking allows two or more computers to interface with each other, whether in an office, a library or other type of establishment, or at home. Running cables throughout an office or a house can be tedious and time-consuming, however, making wireless networking — a network of interfaced computers that doesn't require any hardwired connection between the computers — preferable for many businesses and homes.

Wireless networking has many uses. In an office or place of business, it makes it easy to share files, printers, and Internet access between all of the computers. Home or in a home office networks can enable users to print a file from a laptop without having to go to the printer and hook up to it. These networks also means that individuals can take their laptops to places that offer free WiFi®, known as "hotspots," and instantly connect to the Internet — a valuable tool for businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and students.

A sign in interface for a wireless Internet connection.
A sign in interface for a wireless Internet connection.

For a network to be wireless, all computers connected to it must have a wireless card. It is virtually the same thing as wireless Internet access, except instead of connecting to the Internet, the user is connecting to another computer. Computers that can already access the Internet wirelessly can usually be set up to connect to each other just as easily. Many newer laptops on the market come fully equipped for wireless networking, and a consumer can buy a wireless card to upgrade a computer if it doesn't already have this capability.

A wireless router.
A wireless router.

There are several different kinds of wireless cards available. The first cards on the market were 802.11b, but the standard was eventually upgraded to 802.11g. The latter type of card, being the newest, also has the fastest data transfer, making it the obvious choice for anyone who is serious about wireless connections.

Wireless networking and wireless Internet access may seem dangerous to some people. If the channel is left open, anyone can log on to the network; once on the network, that person could hack into one of the other computers, easily locating personal files containing sensitive information. What many people don't realize is that wireless networks come with security features that can be set up to protect against such an event. One, called a WEP key, is essentially a password that is required before a computer can sign on to the network, preventing any unauthorized use. People who are unsure of how to set up this feature can call the provider of the wireless service or the manufacturer of the wireless modem or router for help.

Discussion Comments


We use wireless networking for our internet access and have to type in a special password in order to gain access. Even though our networking connection may show up somewhere else, if you don't have the password, you can't access it.

I know people who have wireless networking like this and don't ever set up a password. This means that anybody can get on and use their connection and have access to what they are doing. If you use wireless networking like this for internet access, make sure and keep it password protected.


I never felt very secure using the wireless internet that is offered at "hotspots." Even when I would stay at a hotel and they had free WiFi I wondered how secure it was.

Now I have my own wireless device that I can use for internet access. We can have up to five devices use the internet off this one device. One of the nicest things about it is that you have secure access.

Now I can easily take my internet with me and know that I am not sharing a wireless connection with a lot of other people. I don't know if most people realize when they access the internet from most "hotspots" they are not using a secure connection.


I remember when the only time you could get online was when you were at home, sitting next to your desktop computer or you went to a library. There were so many cords and wires that needed to be hooked up and kept out of the way.

Wireless networking has sure changed all of that. Now I can have the internet with me almost everywhere I go. I love visiting restaurants that offer wireless internet service. The number of "hotspots" continues to grow all the time and I don't see this slowing down any time soon.


We have more than one computer in our house but they all share the same printer. This makes it nice that we only need one printer for everyone in the family to use. Setting up a wireless network like this is really easy and most all new computers automatically come with this feature. You just have to go into your wireless settings and set it up.


@anon71609 - You just need a wireless network router and some wireless network adapters for all the computers you want to connect to your network. The router could connect to the internet, but it doesn't have to, and all your computers should be able to connect to each other once you've got your wireless network configuration up and running.


i want a simple wireless home network and sharing of computer. not internet, only lan wireless.

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    • A sign in interface for a wireless Internet connection.
      By: Brilt
      A sign in interface for a wireless Internet connection.
    • A wireless router.
      By: Scanrail
      A wireless router.
    • A wireless network router.
      By: lexan
      A wireless network router.
    • Wireless networking makes it easier for people working on computers to interface.
      By: FotolEdhar
      Wireless networking makes it easier for people working on computers to interface.