Setting up a Wireless Network is rather simple but does require a few prerequisites. First and foremost is that you have a Broadband Connection. This can be Cable (such as RoadRunner) or DSL from the phone company. You cannot do your own wireless without Broadband, it will NOT WORK ON DIALUP.
To establish your Wireless Network you must have a Wireless Router. Wireless Routers have become pretty much a commodity item with folks finding that one is pretty much the same as the other for normal Internet Access sharing. 802.11n is the latest standard to date, operating at over 100 Mbps with an average range of about 100-125 feet. 802.11g routers are much lower in price, compatible with most laptop built-in wireless. Since the incoming Broadband signal is normally less than 5Mbps, this is quite sufficient. Also, since it is a standard, equipment from various manufacturers are compatible with each other. Should you plan to stream media from a PC to other devices (XBox, Media Extender, etc.), you may want to install a wireless router that is combination 802.11a and 802.11g. Speeds and range limits above the 802.11g standard exist but use proprietary protocols, are non-standard and require components which match not only by designation but also by brand. Mixing either will result in a step down to the standard 802.11g. Remember, your wireless device will need to match your router to get speed and performance. If you have an "n" router and a "g" laptop then it will connect at "g" speed.
Lastly, the devices to be connected to the Wireless Network need to have wireless capabilities. Recently, almost all notebook computers have built-in wireless capabilities (802.11g). They are ready to go out-of-the box. Older laptops will require either a USB adapter or a PCMCIA card. Most, if not all, desktops will require an adapter, either an internal PCI card or an external USB adapter.
Most of the information below is provided in one form or another in the little booklet which comes with a new Wireless Router. When in doubt, use the information from the manufacturer.
Typical Broadband installations consist of a Broadband Modem (Cable or DSL) with a cable linking the modem to a desktop. To install a Wireless Router do the following: Shutdown your desktop computer. Disconnect the cable from the desktop and plug it into the WAN port on the Wireless Router (sometimes designated as Internet, Modem, etc.). Connect the cable provided with the Wireless Router to Port 1 of the router and to the desktop where the other cable was connected. Connect power to the Wireless Router and turn it ON. Bring your desktop up and you should be connected as you were prior to doing this hardware installation.
You could probably now access the Internet from your other wireless-enabled devices (such as your laptop). It is a PUBLIC network, available to you, your neighbors and someone parked in the street outside your house. NOT GOOD. In order to limit access, you must become a PRIVATE network be setting encryption on the Wireless Router. Doing this is rather simple. From your desktop, open Internet Explorer (or your preferred browser) and enter the address of the Wireless Router into the place you would normally enter a site name (such as www.microsoft.com). This address is specified in the booklet which comes with the router. Most often it will be either 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1 or 192.168.0.1. This will connect you directly to the Wireless Router. If a user ID or password is required, it will be specified in your booklet. Following prompts and tabs on the screen you should set your own ID and password along with naming your network (SSID). The SSID is the name of the network that you see when you look at available networks from a laptop. IF YOU MAKE A CHANGE TO A SCREEN PAGE YOU HAVE TO SAVE IT BEFORE GOING TO ANOTHER PAGE. Proceed to Wireless Security and enable security by setting encryption to WPA, WPA-PSK. Based on the booklet with your router you might want to set other levels but I have found WPA to be sufficient. You will enter a PassPhrase (password) of 8-63 characters. This PassPhrase is used to encrypt data passed back and forth over the wireless connection and is required on the wireless device to make connection.
Last Step. Go to your wireless device (laptop, desktop, etc) and bring up your Wireless Network access. This is normally done by double-clicking the little icon in the system tray that looks like a monitor with little wavy lines going out from it. If necessary, tell it to browse for wireless networks. Your network (SSID) should be shown. Highlight your network and click on CONNECT. You will be informed that you are attempting to connect to a private network, to enter your code. Enter the PassPhrase that you entered in the router setup. Click OK and the systems will connect. The laptop will remember the code and connect automatically into the future.