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  1. #1
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Going wireless - Suggestions

    Now that I have my new computer running smoothly, I am in the market to buy a wireless home networking kit so my family can share cable Internet access and printers.

    I've been looking at the 3Com Wireless Home Gateway here: http://www.3com.com/products/en_US/d...sku=3CRWE50194

    I found a review of 3Com's Wireless Router here: http://computers.cnet.com/hardware/0...52-404-4722177

    My question is what's the difference between a Gateway and a Router? For the record, I definitely want a router so I don't have to leave one computer on 24/7.

    I will have four computers in the network:

    1. Dell Dimension 8100, 1.3 Ghz, 256 MB RDRAM, Win2K
    2. Gateway 2000, 400 Mgz, 192 MB SDRAM, Win98
    3. IBM Thinkpad, 166 Mgz, 32 MB SDRAM, Win95
    4. HP Pavilion, 266 Mgz, 72 MB SDRD, Win95

    I'm looking for one no more expensive than $200 - the price of the one on the 3Com site is a little bit over what I'd like to spend. Can anyone share their experiences with wireless products and perhaps make recommendations? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    I'm not going to answer your question but I will address another problem. I don't care how fast the salesman tells you that wireless network will run...it won't be nearly as fdast. If' you're trying to share a cable connection and expect the speed, you need to get a normal ethernet network. The router, cards and cabling should run you no more than $250!!! you will maintain the speed of the high bandwidth internet and you'll end up happier...trust me...I know.

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  3. #3
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Sketch
    I'm not going to answer your question but I will address another problem. I don't care how fast the salesman tells you that wireless network will run...it won't be nearly as fdast. If' you're trying to share a cable connection and expect the speed, you need to get a normal ethernet network. The router, cards and cabling should run you no more than $250!!! you will maintain the speed of the high bandwidth internet and you'll end up happier...trust me...I know.

    Sketch
    I am going to be one primarily using the cable modem, since the modem will be installed on my machine, I won't be losing any speed - the other computers in my network may not get the highest connection possible with a cable modem, but at this point, just getting them online and without a 28.8K dial-up as we have now is my goal.

    Plus, I do not by any means want to drape wires and cables all over my house.

  4. #4
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    lol, oh come on...you run cable in the wall....lol...whatever you decide, good luck to ya...

    Sketch
    Aaron Brazell
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I would never use a wireless network due to my experiences with it at school.
    Here is a basic overview of our network:

    About 100 PCs with 100Mbit network cards
    5 Servers with 100Mbit network cards
    10 PCs with wireless 10Mbit network cards.

    All the PCs are exactly the same spec (well, near enough ). On one of the wired network cards, it takes 20-40 seconds for the system to log me on (I have a bigger profile than most though ), but on the wireless machine it took 15 minutes last time. The claimed max speed according to the drivers is 6mbits, however we were getting nearer 0.06mbits.

    I was tempted to get one here at home, but then when I heard it was going to be installed at school I decided to wait until then. I helped out quite a lot with the setup there so I know we didn't do anything wrong, but it really is terrible.

    In case you're wondering, we're using the Compaq wireless LAN stuff (all our PCs are Compaq as well).

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by mjames

    I am going to be one primarily using the cable modem, since the modem will be installed on my machine, I won't be losing any speed - the other computers in my network may not get the highest connection possible with a cable modem, but at this point, just getting them online and without a 28.8K dial-up as we have now is my goal.

    Plus, I do not by any means want to drape wires and cables all over my house.
    Are you sure? Cable modems (or at least the ones I know) are little boxes that plug into the wall. The other end of the cable modem doesn't goes to the hub or whatever you are using to split the connection. You'll be loosing speed.

    I haven't used a wireless network before but I doubt it offers good speeds. It'll definately be slower than cable.

    Don't go by maximum speed. That doesn't mean you'll get that speed or near that speed all the time. James illustrated that perfectly. There are all sorts of factors that affect speed.

    Also, you wouldn't have to drape wires across your house. You'd put it through a wall or through the ceiling (if you are on the same floor). It's a pain but I'd do it before resorting to a wireless solution.

  7. #7
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    So it seems the general consensus is to stay away from wireless networks. How do wireless networks compare to phone line networks as far as speed?

    I would go with plain old ethernet in a heartbeat if all my computers where near each other, but we have our computers spread out everywhere throughout the house.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard
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    They're probably a little faster than phone based networks but I've never tried before.

    I managed to setup my own wired network here at home even though the computers are everywhere - can't you just put some wires around the place? (I had to hide them very well though, took me 2 whole days).

  9. #9
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    Of course, I have no cocept what the layout of your house is, but mine is pretty spread out, multi level and I have 5 computers too. Basically, Piping a cable up through a floor or through a few walls took some time, but was very doable. It's a fun project too, if you get into it.

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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mjames
    I am going to be one primarily using the cable modem, since the modem will be installed on my machine, I won't be losing any speed
    How does that work? You said you don't want to leave a computer on 24/7, but if you connect your modem to your computer and not the router that is exactly what you will have to do. The modem will not be able to communicate with your LAN if your computer is off. And you'll need two network cards - one for the modem and one for the LAN.

    You will probably also need Internet Connection Sharing software to share your connection with the other computers on your LAN.

    That is where the router comes into play. From what I understand (and maybe someone can clear this up), a cable/DSL router is set up in this manner: the cable/DSL modem connects directly to the router who then shares the connection to all the computers on the LAN.

    Cable/DSL providers only allow one computer to be online at once (they usually charge you extra for additional computers), that is why you need a router and not a simple hub. A hub will share the connection but it will show each IP address form every computer to the modem, therefore your ISP will catch you. What a router does is it will only show one IP to the modem and it will redirect the incoming traffic to the proper computer just like the Internet Connection Sharing software if you were set up like in the first two paragraphs.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard
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    What dominique said is probably true for most cable/dsl providers, but is far from true in my case.

    RoadRunner (my cable Internet provider) allows a certain number of PCs to access the Internet before having an additional charge. IPs are assigned dynamically (meaning that they change and are not shared). A simple hub does me well. I haven't had more than three computers accessing the Internet off the hub at any given time, though.

    Bottom line: Find out if your cable provider allows you to have additional PCs accessing the Internet.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Aidan Bahta
    What dominique said is probably true for most cable/dsl providers, but is far from true in my case.
    I have Road Runner too and they do not allow multiple PCs on the modem. Maybe it depends on what region you live in. But I agree, do check with your provider first.

  13. #13
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    I agree with Dominique. What we more than likey have a case of is proxies. Your other PCs are probably hooked into the gateway PC...not the brand name, but the PC with the Roadrunner connection. The gateway is probably working as a proxy if other PCs are accessing the network via Roadrunner also. Give RR a call and just check how they do their IP assignments. I betcha they only assign 1 IP...which means they only allow 1 connection to the internet.

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  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by Sketch
    Your other PCs are probably hooked into the gateway PC...not the brand name, but the PC with the Roadrunner connection. The gateway is probably working as a proxy if other PCs are accessing the network via Roadrunner also. Give RR a call and just check how they do their IP assignments. I betcha they only assign 1 IP...which means they only allow 1 connection to the internet.

    Sketch
    This is wrong (for me).

    The cable modem plugs into the wall. The other end goes to the hub. The hub connects all of the PCs. There is no main connection from a single PC.

    They do not assign one IP. Every time I have checked, the IPs have been different. They change every two or four hours I believe.

    Now, if those comments were not directed to me, sorry for mis-reading!

  15. #15
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    they were directed at you...

    But you still have only one IP whether it is static or dynamic. And the hub has the one IP...

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    Aaron Brazell
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by Sketch
    they were directed at you...

    But you still have only one IP whether it is static or dynamic. And the hub has the one IP...

    Sketch
    I don't think so, if I understand this right. Each computer has a different IP address, that is changed over time. Yes, I only have one IP at any given time (not sure how else it could be).

  17. #17
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    Roadrunner doesn't see all your PC's IP addresses. It only sees the one IP, the one connection at the hub. Call them and ask how many connections they allow. I dare ya!

    Sketch
    Aaron Brazell
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  18. #18
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Here is what you do. Connect 1 pc to the Internet via RR (this is your gateway pc). Since this computer is connected directly, you will probably want some sort of firewall on it. You can set it up as a server to share the Internet connection (or use the Internet Connection Sharing in Win98). Network the stuff all together and BAM you have Internet access for all your PCs

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    moospot, that's exatly what I said in my first post, but mjames doesn't want to leave a computer on 24/7. He wants each computer to be able to go online indpendently from the main computer, which cannot be done with a gateway PC.

    Because of this mjames should probably go with a router. Aidan, Sketch and I were discussing whether a regular hub would also do the trick.

  20. #20
    Prolific Blogger silver trophy Technosailor's Avatar
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    I just so happened to see a segment on this very topic on The Screen Savers on Tech TV...my favorite show! lol A hub will not work without a gateway PC left on. It is a passive piece of equipment. It sits there and simply lets traffic go through it. You need a DSL/Cable Router. A Router is the equivalent of a traffic cop. It ACTIVELY directs traffic and can be used w/o a gateway PC.

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  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist thewitt's Avatar
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    This has drifted from wireless a bit so I'll bring it back on track.

    I run an Apple Airport access point which is Lucent's system rebranded.

    I have RoadRunner cable access.

    The wireless AP is faster than the cable modem access - there is no difference in performance if I surf the net wired or wireless.

    I use the AP as a NAT gateway to access the Internet, so RoadRunner - indeed the entire Internet - sees only one computer IP address - and that's my AP functioning as a NAT gateway.

    It's secure, it's fast, it's cheap. I have multiple wireless and wired computers accessing the Internet at the same time. As far as anyone knows - RoadRunner included - there is one computer here without any incoming services enabled.

    Works beautifully.

    -t

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Originally posted by Sketch
    A hub will not work without a gateway PC left on.
    Tell me how my setup works, then.

    Here's a diagram if it helps (using code to keep things straight)
    Code:
    =================
          | |
          | | - Cable
          | |
          | |
          | |
         _|_|__
        |      |
        |      | - Cable Modem
        |______|
           ||
           || 
           || 
           || 
           || 
          _||_
         |    |
         |    | - Hub
         |____|
         //||\\
        /| || |\
       / | || | \
      /  | || |  \
      |  | || |   |
    Works like a charm. I don't think my hub is anything special...3Com OfficeConnect Ethernet Hub 8.

  23. #23
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Originally posted by thewitt
    This has drifted from wireless a bit so I'll bring it back on track.

    I run an Apple Airport access point which is Lucent's system rebranded.

    I have RoadRunner cable access.

    The wireless AP is faster than the cable modem access - there is no difference in performance if I surf the net wired or wireless.

    I use the AP as a NAT gateway to access the Internet, so RoadRunner - indeed the entire Internet - sees only one computer IP address - and that's my AP functioning as a NAT gateway.

    It's secure, it's fast, it's cheap. I have multiple wireless and wired computers accessing the Internet at the same time. As far as anyone knows - RoadRunner included - there is one computer here without any incoming services enabled.

    Works beautifully.

    -t
    Thanks for that. It's good to hear some positive opinions on wireless. I think I've ruled out all the other options and wireless is the only one that remains. Don't want the cords with ethernet and phone line is too slow, so wireless is the best choice for me.

    What do I need to buy exactly? As in can I just buy a kit such a wireless router kit that 3Com offers and be done? Or do I need to buy NICs and additional things? If I want a laptop to be a part of the network, do I need to buy additional things, as well? At the bare minimum, I could go with just two desktop computers in the network (Win98 and Win2k Professional).

  24. #24
    SitePoint Evangelist thewitt's Avatar
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    Here's my configuration - though others are also viable.

    Cable modem into 4 port Hub.
    Wireless Access Point into 4 port Hub.
    Wired PCs into 4 port Hub.
    Wireless PCs using Wireless PCMCIA NIC.

    The Lucent Wireless Access Point acts as a DHCP client and queries the RoadRunner DHCP server for an IP address on the Internet. It also serves as a DHCP server (though I'm not using that) and a NAT Router. The Network Address Translation feature lets me use it as a gateway to the Internet for all the other computers - both wired and wireless.

    Apple has a couple of nice PFD files with instructions for setting up different wireless configurations on their website at:

    http://www.apple.com/airport/

    If you ignore the Airport specific stuff, it's actually a great general purpose tutorial on wireless configurations.

    Does this make sense?

    -t

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Aidan Bahta
    Tell me how my setup works, then.

    Here's a diagram if it helps (using code to keep things straight)

    [...edit...]

    Works like a charm. I don't think my hub is anything special...3Com OfficeConnect Ethernet Hub 8.
    I beleive you that it works, I'm just not sure how it works. I still think it's because RR just hasn't caught you yet. I once did a set up at a friends house in a distant city far far away with a different provider (not RR) that also only allows one IP and we set it up just like you did. We had 3 PCs just like you and it also worked like a charm. Vidéotron never suspected a thing. The problem came when we added a fourth PC. Vidétron still didn't suspect a thing but the cable modem started acting weird and only 3 of the 4 PCs could be online at once (or even less sometimes).

    Maybe the only reason why it works is because RR doesn't bother to check and most cable modems (including yours) allow up to 3 PCs on at once. *just my theory, I may be way off*



    thewitt, we may have drifted away a little, but mjames still needs to know if he can get away with a wireless hub or if he needs a wireless router (much more expensive, at least 2-3 times).


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