If your family uses any combination of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, you need a home wireless — or “WiFi” — network. WiFi is short for wireless fidelity and just about any mobile device or current-gen PC lets you configure and use wireless technology. If you want to learn how to create a WiFi network, check out these few simple steps.

Learn How to Create a WiFi Network

Step 1: Make a Plan

According to a tip sheet released by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the first thing you need is a plan. Start by determining what kind of devices, and how many, to connect to your wireless network. For most users, this is a combination of desktops, laptops, and mobile device in a household. Once you have a rough number, decide what kind of network you prefer: peer-to-peer or base station. All wireless devices support peer-to-peer networking, but bandwidth and signal strength is limited. Because peer-to-peer uses WiFi technology embedded in each device, rather than a central unit with a radio signal booster.

If you plan to use three or fewer devices in close proximity, a peer-to-peer network is fine. Base stations function as central connection points for all your wireless devices. This approach helps the network cover an entire house. When using a base station, consider an access point or gateway. A gateway works when needing wireless connections. An access point makes sense when needing both wired and wireless connections.

Step 2: Get WiFi Equipped

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets typically come with built-in wireless functionality. However, some older laptops and desktops only offer wired connection ports. If needed, purchase either WiFi network adapters which typically connect to a USB port. Simply install the necessary software and you’re ready to go.

When all of your devices are WiFi-ready, you need to determine how much bandwidth your network needs. Check your bandwidth with a speed test to find out. A standard 802.11b WiFi network provides 11 Mbps of bandwidth in total, but bear in mind that number is shared among all users.

If everyone in the house uses the network to send emails and browse the Internet, no problem. However, if your family enjoys streaming HD movies or playing online video games, consider a 802.11a or 802.11g access point. These offer 54 Mbps of bandwidth. Routers and gateways state on the box which types of networking they support. Many support all three.

Step 3: Secure Your WiFi Network

Once you’ve purchased and installed your access point, you need to secure the network. Note the access point connects to the Internet via an Ethernet cable, then broadcasts a radio signal detectable by any WiFi devices.

To secure the network, consult the router or gateway manual and find out the default IP address. Navigate to this address using your Web browser. Enter the username and password as required. It’s usually “admin” for the username and in many cases no password is needed.

This gives you access to the router or gateway’s administrator menu. Use the menu to enable WPA2 encryption to keep your Web traffic safe. Also change the default name of your network to something other than the router’s name and model number. Finally, create a strong password to authenticate users.

Remember, families use PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones in equal measure. So leverage this information to learn how to create a WiFi network, both for ease of access and device flexibility.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.