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This page was written in the days (not long ago) when the normal method of connecting to the Internet was by a dialup modem. The advent of broadband means that the term Modem now means something very different. A Broadband modem is now normally supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they come in two main varieties - either for a BT land line type or one for a Cable system (e.g. Virgin Media). See Wikipedia Instead of being inside the computer the Modem is connected to a computer via an Ethernet port (or can be connected to a USB port).
All modern (PC) computers have this socket, which is slightly larger than the socket into which some of the older dialup modems were plugged.
Another piece of equipment may be supplied by your ISP and that is a Router. The Router's job is to sort out connections to several computers that use the same connection to the 'net'. Routers have a wireless aerial and can be used to connect to from wireless equipment, including wireless printers. Modern Routers include the Modem. The set up of these pieces of equipment is normally taken care of by software issued to you on disk by your ISP. If there is a problem it is best to get in touch with them. The one popular technique tried if your broadband modem is not making a connection is to reset it by disconnecting the power cable from the back, waiting a few seconds, then replacing that cable.
All modern laptops, netbooks and "Pads" or Tablets have internal wireless (Wi-Fi) hardware. Desktops MAY have this but can be made wireless by the addition of a cheap wireless USB 'dongle'. Equipment other than phones and some tablets do not have a socket to connect by cable to a router (and are therefore dependent on wireless)
The rear of the router looks like this, showing the sockets to which a number of PCs can be attached with inexpensive Ethernet cables
If your computers are normally close together there is no need to venture into the mysteries of wireless and, in fact, cable connections are less liable to be 'hacked' (got into) from outside. It is even possible to purchase routers that do not have the wireless option.
WIRELESS. Setting up a wireless connection has always been
my weakness. I have printed numerous instructions from the Netgear
site and from magazines but have often been frustrated when it comes to
connecting equipment such as a laptop, netbook or Kindle. I realise that
there are security questions but it is a pity they couldn't make it as simple
as attaching a wireless mouse. I was always concerned that resetting in the
router attached to my desktop I might lose my internet connection altogether.
NOT SO. The router remains connected regardless of whether the wireless
is correctly set up.
An example of resetting a Netgear Router and Password :.:
Wireless connections ?
Quite a useful site on this at http://www.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/global/learn/network/index?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
The usual practice is for your Internet provider (ISP) to provide you with a broadband modem when you sign up for broadband services (see my page on this HERE) Although not very expensive for them - and you can get a BB modem for around £25 - they will probably want you to sign up for a year and may charge you if you leave during that contract.
In view of the relative cheapness and better speeds of broadband I have now deleted a detailed section which dealt with dialup modems. Dialup is simply not viable any more
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