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Different Ways to Share

There are three different ways to share an Internet connection on a wireless network. Which method you choose depends on your particular needs and, perhaps, the equipment available to you:

  • The first method, using Windows' Internet Connection Sharing, is best if you want to share a dial-up connection. With this approach, your modem connects directly to the main PC in your network; the sharing of that connection is done through that PC.
  • The second method, using a combination wireless router/modem, is sometimes an option if that particular piece of equipment is offered by your Internet service provider. The Internet line runs directly into the router/modem, which then beams the Internet signal (along with other network signals) to all the computers on your network. The advantage of this approach, of course, is that you only have one piece of equipment instead of two (separate router and modem). In addition, this device is often provided free (or at a reduced rate) by your cable or DSL company; in some instances, you may even get them to come out and install everything, which saves you that time and expense.
  • The third and most common method of sharing an Internet connection, however, involves a separate wireless router, which you provide and connect to your ISP's broadband modem. This type of setup is the most flexible (you can upgrade your router whenever you want without having to change the modem) and is relatively easy to configure.

Connecting Via a Wireless Router

The most common type of wireless Internet setup uses a separate wireless router and broadband modem, as shown in Figure 7.1.

Figure 7.1

Figure 7.1 A home network utilizing a separate broadband modem and wireless router.

Setting Up the Modem and Router

Fortunately, this type of setup isn't too difficult; just follow these steps:

  1. Connect a coaxial cable between the cable/DSL wall outlet and the broadband modem.
  2. Connect an Ethernet cable between your broadband modem and your wireless router. (Most routers have a dedicated "modem in" connection, although you can connect the cable to any Ethernet port on your router.)
  3. Connect an Ethernet cable between the wireless router and your main PC.
  4. Configure the wireless router for network use, using the unit's accompanying installation software.
  5. Set up your network from the main PC.

Configuring Your Computer for an Internet Connection

That last step in the previous section is only necessary if you're setting up an entire multiple-computer network. If you only want to share an Internet connection, with no other network functions, the setup is simpler. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Windows Start menu and select Control Panel.
  2. From the Control Panel, select Network and Internet.
  3. When the Network and Internet window appears, select Network and Sharing Center.
  4. When the Network and Sharing Center opens, click Set Up a Connection or Network (in the Tasks pane).
  5. When the Set Up a Connection or Network Wizard appears, as shown in Figure 7.2, select Connect to the Internet and then click Next.
    Figure 7.2

    Figure 7.2 Getting ready to set up an Internet connection.

  6. This launches the Connect to the Internet Wizard, shown in Figure 7.3. Select which type of connection you have—Broadband or Dial-up.
    Figure 7.3

    Figure 7.3 Selecting your particular type of connection.

  7. If you have a broadband connection, enter your username, password, and connection name, as shown in Figure 7.4. Check the Allow Other People to Use This Connection option; then click Connect.
    Figure 7.4

    Figure 7.4 Configuring a broadband connection.

  8. If you have a dial-up connection, select which modem you want to use; then enter your ISP's phone number, your username and password, and the connection name. Check the Allow Other People to Use This Connection option and then click Connect.

After you've set up everything, any computer connected to your wireless network should have automatic access to your Internet connection.

Connecting Via a Combination Router/Modem Gateway

If your cable or DSL company offers a combination router/modem gateway device, sharing an Internet connection gets even easier. This single piece of equipment serves as both your broadband modem and your wireless network router; connect your incoming Internet cable to this unit, and it both beams the Internet connection to all your wireless computers and manages all network data transfer and communications.

Figure 7.5 shows how a network using a router/modem gateway looks. The connection is relatively straightforward:

  1. Connect a coaxial cable between your cable/DSL wall outlet and the router/modem.
  2. Connect an Ethernet cable between the router/modem and your main PC.
  3. Configure the router/modem for network use, using the unit's accompanying installation software.
  4. Set up your network from the main PC.
Figure 7.5

Figure 7.5 A home network utilizing a combination router/modem gateway.

That's the advantage of this particular type of setup—it's easy. In fact, your ISP may provide low- or no-cost setup services; check to see what's available with your particular service plan.

Connecting with Internet Connection Sharing

If you have a dial-up Internet connection, that connection has to be made through a single computer connected to your dial-up modem. In fact, in many instances, the dial-up modem is actually contained within the computer. You then use this host computer to dial in to your ISP and connect to the Internet.

To share this type of Internet connection, the other computers on your network have to first connect to the host PC and go through that PC to the Internet. (Figure 7.6 shows how this looks.) This is accomplished by an older Windows technology called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). ICS is built into both Windows Vista and Windows XP.

Figure 7.6

Figure 7.6 A home network utilizing Internet Connection Sharing to connect to the Internet.

Setting Up an ICS Network

The first step in setting up ICS is to physically connect your modem, host computer, and wireless router. Here's how it all goes:

  1. Connect a standard telephone cable between the nearest phone jack and the "phone in" jack on your dial-up modem. (If your modem is built into your PC, connect to the cable to the "phone in" jack on the back of your PC.) Connect your modem to a power source.
  2. If you have an external modem, connect it (typically via USB) to your host PC. Connect it to a power source.
  3. Connect an Ethernet cable between your host PC and your wireless router.
  4. Power up and configure each piece of equipment.

Configuring Your Host PC for ICS

After your modem, host computer, and wireless router are physically connected in this fashion, you then have to configure your host computer for ICS. This is not an easy process.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Windows Start menu and select Control Panel.
  2. When the Control Panel opens, select Network and Internet.
  3. When the Network and Internet window appears, select Network and Sharing Center.
  4. From the Network and Sharing Center, click Manage Network Connections.
  5. When the Network Connections window appears, right-click the connection you want to share and then select Properties.
  6. When the Properties dialog box appears, select the Sharing tab. (The Sharing tab is only available if you have two network connections on this computer—one for the Internet connection to your modem, and a second to your network router.)
  7. Select the option to Allow Other Network Users to Connect Through This Computer's Internet Connection.
  8. Click OK.

Configuring IP Addresses for ICS

You're not finished yet. When you enable ICS on your host computer, your network is configured with a static IP address. Because this isn't the way you want things configured (to connect to the Internet, each PC on your network needs a dynamically assigned IP address), you'll need to reconfigure the TCP/IP settings for the host computer. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center and click Manage Network Connections (in the Tasks pane).
  2. When the Network Connections window appears, right-click the LAN connection and then select Properties.
  3. When the Properties dialog box appears, select either Internet Protocol Version 4 or Internet Protocol Version 6; then click Properties.
  4. When the next Properties dialog box appears, select either Obtain an IP Address Automatically or Obtain an IPv6 Address Automatically.
  5. Click OK when finished.

Configuring Your Other PCs for ICS

There's still more work to do. (I told you this wasn't an easy process!) All the computers on your network that want to share your dial-up Internet connection also have to be configured for ICS. Follow these steps for all the other computers on your network (but not the host):

  1. Open the Windows Start menu and select Control Panel.
  2. From the Control Panel, select Network and Internet.
  3. When the Network and Internet window appears, select Internet Options.
  4. When the Internet Properties dialog box appears, select the Connections tab.
  5. Select the Never Dial a Connection option.
  6. Click the LAN Settings button.
  7. When the LAN Settings dialog box appears, uncheck the Automatically Detect Settings, Use Automatic Configuration Script, and Use a Proxy Server for Your LAN options.
  8. Click OK.

After these configurations are made, you can connect to your ISP from your host computer, and then access this Internet connection from any other computer connected to your network.

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