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If I connect my internet cable modem to my laptop via the ethernet card, can I share the internet that I am receiving from the ethernet card to my wireless card? In other words can I broadcast my internet signal through my WiFi?

You can use Windows XP to create a peer-to-peer wireless network. It also allows you to set up an Internet gateway, giving other members of the network access to the Internet via your computer's own connection. This is called ad-hoc networking. You can also use this configuration as a fallback option if your access point or router breaks. You may want to use ad-hoc Wi-Fi only in temporary situations to avoid potential security issues. All adapters on your ad hoc wireless LAN need matching channel numbers. You can share an Internet connection across an ad-hoc wireless network. To do this, designate one of your computers as the host (effectively a substitute for a router). That computer will keep the cabled connection and must be powered on whenever the network is in use. Microsoft Windows offers a feature known as Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) that works with ad hoc WLANs.

The instructions below assume that you have already installed and configured the software that came with the wireless network card that is currently in your computer and that you have configured you network settings as well.

To set up an ad-hoc network in Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the icon for your wireless network in the System Tray and select Choose Available Networks.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. If networks are listed in the Preferred Networks pane in the lower portion of the window, select each and remove it. This prevents an accidental connection from being made while you're creating your new network.
  4. Click the Computer-to-computer (ad-hoc) networks only button.
  5. Uncheck the Automatically connect to non-preferred networks checkbox if it's checked and then click Close.
  6. Click Add under the Preferred Networks label. The wireless Network Properties window opens.
  7. Type a name (an SSID) for your network.
  8. Leave WEP Encryption disabled until you've had a chance to test the network. Click OK.

Remember that all the Wi-Fi network adapters need configured for "ad-hoc" mode instead of the more typical "infrastructure" mode.

You need to add the client computer (you are the host computer) with the wireless connection to your subnet by assigning a static IP address for that device or any other client computer on your network. Using a private IP subnet, you can assign addresses that are valid only within the local network. For example, start by assigning the computer that hosts your network an IP address of 192.168.0.1, and give each client computer an address in that range (i.e. 192.168.0.2 through 192.168.0.254). On each networked computer, use a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and be sure that the gateway address field of each is empty. Go to the Wireless Network Connection Properties window to create a key. Then reconnect each client to the network, using the key.

A mobile router is an alternative way to share a wireless internet connection by creating a wireless broadband network virtually anywhere.

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Revised: 03/16/2008