Frequently Asked Questions

What is 802.11 wireless networking?

802.11 (sometimes called "Wi-Fi") is a set of protocols that are widely used for small Local Area Networks. Another protocol called Bluetooth allows devices to communicate wirelessly, but it is only useful for very short ranges, and generally not used for home networking. Bluetooth can be useful for networking personal devices in a small area, often called a Personal Area Network (PAN).

802.11 actually encompasses several different protocols. The trailing letters (i.e. the g in 802.11g) indicate different speeds and frequency bands used.

What kind of wireless antenna range performance issues might affect my wireless connection?

Radio waves don't really travel the same distance in all directions. Walls, doors, elevator shafts, people, and other obstacles offer varying degrees of attenuation, which cause the Radio Frequency (RF) radiation pattern to be irregular and unpredictable. Attenuation is simply a reduction of signal strength during transmission. Attenuation is registered in decibels (dB), which is ten times the logarithm of the signal power at a particular input divided by the signal power at an output of a specified medium. For example, an office wall (i.e., medium) that changes the propagation of an RF signal from a power level of 200 milliwatts (the input) to 100 milliwatts (the output) represents 3 dB of attenuation. The following provides some examples of the attenuation values of common office construction:

Plasterboard wall: 3dB
Glass wall with metal frame: 6dB
Cinder block wall: 4dB
Office window: 3dB
Metal door: 6dB
Metal door in brick wall: 12.4dB
Other factors that will reduce range and affect coverage area include concrete fiberboard walls, aluminum siding, pipes and electrical wiring, microwave ovens, and cordless phones.

What should I do if I am unable to access my e-mail or the Web page of my ISP?

You should contact your ISP to get the full URL and then perform the following steps:

Note: Linux users can perform steps 4 and 5 after opening a terminal.

  1. Connect your broadband modem directly to one of your computers.
  2. Perform the ping command by clicking Windows Start and then Run.
  3. In the Run dialog box:
    Windows XP, 2000, and NT users: Type cmd.
    Windows Me, 98, and 95 users: Type command.
  4. All users should then enter the following command: ping xxx, where xxx is the complete URL for your ISP.
  5. After you get the IP address, enter the IP address in the mail server option or in the address line of your Web browser.

Can the wireless router I am wirelessly networked with be used in place of a modem?

No, a broadband modem must still be used to have Internet access over the wireless network.