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How to change a wired broadband computer to a wireless broadband

Updated April 17, 2017

When changing a wired broadband computer to a wireless broadband computer, you'll need to invest in a couple of pieces of new equipment, depending on your current configuration. If you currently own a wireless broadband router and have your cable modem inserted via the WAN port, you'll need to determine whether to purchase an internal or external wireless adaptor. Laptop owners should opt for an external card, and desktop owners can purchase either an internal or external card. While the internal card is "out of sight, out of mind," installing an external card will give you more opportunity to improve weak signals and interference problems.

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  1. Purchase and set-up a wireless broadband router by interfacing it with your wired computer. Choose a router that is compatible with your broadband modem and that supports the wireless network type you desire.

  2. Enable WPA or WPA-2 security, and change your router's default password. Give your SSID or wireless network a memorable name.

  3. Connect your modem to the WAN (wide area network) port on your router.

  4. Purchase a wireless network card that is compatible with the router you purchased and with your computer. For example, if you bought a 802.11 b/g router, do not purchase an 802.11 n adaptor.

  5. Shut down your computer. Remove all cables and peripheral devices.

  6. Remove the left side panel while facing the front of the case. You may need to remove screws or to manipulate latches and notches. Consult your case or computer manufacturer's documentation if you are unsure of how to remove the panel.

  7. Clip the metal part of the anti-static wrist bracelet to a metal object, and strap on the bracelet.

  8. Locate an available PCI or PCI-Express slot. Unscrew the screw that secures the slot cover that corresponds with the slot, then remove the slot cover.

  9. Line up the wireless adaptor's pins with the slot. Insert the card until it clicks into place. Do not force the card into the slot, or you may damage the card's connectors. If you feel resistance, remove the card, line up the card with the slot again, and reinsert.

  10. Secure the card with the slot cover screw. Reattach the side panel, and replace any screws you removed earlier.

  11. Reinsert all cables, and plug in all peripherals. Boot the computer.

  12. Allow Windows the opportunity to detect the card. It should automatically install the drivers for the card. If you have updated drivers, insert the disk and install according to on-screen instructions.

  13. Boot up your computer.

  14. Insert your external wireless adaptor into the appropriate slot. For example, if you purchased a USB slot, insert it into a USB port.

  15. Allow Windows the opportunity to detect the card. It should automatically install the drivers for the card. If you have updated drivers, insert the disk and install according to on-screen instructions.

  16. Double-click the network icon in the task bar.

  17. Highlight your wireless network. Windows will display the name you entered when setting up your router.

  18. Click the "Connect" button.

  19. Enter and verify the security key you created when setting up the router. Click on "Connect."

  20. Tip

    You may remove the wired Ethernet card when installing an internal card if you need the slot to install the wireless card or for further expansion. You may find, however, that it is in your best interest to keep the card installed in case of future wireless problems and for troubleshooting purposes.

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Things You'll Need

  • Broadband modem
  • Router compatible with modem
  • Internal or external wireless network adaptor
  • Phillips screwdriver

About the Author

Candace Benson has nearly five years of experience as a volunteer coordinator and has worked for non-profits and state agencies. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Benson wrote for a number of video game websites and blogs and worked as a technical support agent. Benson currently writes for eHow.

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