Setting up Wi-Fi at home will enable you to enjoy all kinds of content on your compatible devices without connecting a bunch of cables: computers, phones, tablets, game consoles, and more. Here's how to get your home set up for wireless.
What Do I Need for a Wi-Fi Connection?
- High-Speed Internet Connection — Assuming you intend to access the Internet (or use applications/devices that require access), the first thing you'll need is a high-speed Internet connection. Check out local broadband ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and you'll find a cable, DSL, Satellite, or other plan to suit your needs.
- A Modem — Modems convert cable, phone-line, and other carrier frequencies into digital data (and vice-versa). Modems, essentially, are your connection to the Internet. More often than not, ISPs will provide (or have you purchase or rent) an appropriate modem for their service, but you can also purchase one here at Amazon.com. (Just make sure it's compatible with your provider's service.)
- A Wireless (Wi-Fi) Router — Routers are the heart of any home network, allowing multiple devices to use the same Internet connection and communicate with one another. This is where the Wi-Fi comes in. You'll want to purchase a wireless router, selecting from the many 802.11n (speedy) or 802.11ac (very speedy) Wi-Fi routers available. Our Router Buying Guide can help you with your selection.
How Do I Set This Stuff Up?
- Connect Your Modem — Follow the instructions provided by your ISP for connecting your modem. Usually this is as simple as connecting via phone (or coaxial) cable to the wall phone/cable jack, connecting the AC adapter, and powering up.
- Connect Your Router — You'll want to keep your router near your modem, as they will need to share a wired connection using an Ethernet cable. Chances are your router included the necessary cable, which you'll take from the modem's output to the port on the router labeled “WAN,” “Internet,” or something similar.
- Access Your Router — Your router will likely include software and instructions for setup. At this stage you'll follow those directions to get your router set up to your needs, including setting up security for your network, giving your network a public name (SSID), and more. This may involve connecting a computer directly to the router, at least initially. Once you set up a password for using the wireless network, anyone connecting to your router will need it. You can also set up the administrative login/password for your router, making sure not just anybody can log in and change your router's settings.
- Connect Your Devices — Once you've confirmed router functionality and the ability to connect to the Internet, you're ready to get all your toys hooked up. Most laptops, computers, and tablets have very simple Wi-Fi setup options. You can just select your network by its name, enter the password you set up on the router, and start enjoying your new Wi-Fi connection.
- Trouble — Wi-Fi can be stubborn. Radio bands can become quite busy in apartment buildings full of competing wireless networks. You may have to try different channels (smaller bands within the normal operating frequency of wireless routers) to get peak performance. These will be accessible in your router's admin settings.
Signals can also be weakened by your home's construction. If you've got a less accessible spot in your home you may want to look into range extenders (which do exactly what it sounds like), powerline Ethernet adapters (which create a wired connection to another part of your house using your homes power wiring), and other options.