How do I get three computers connected with DSL?

Hello all,

I’m currently the most tech-savvy person in a household with my parents and younger brother. We have three computers in three separate rooms, two phone lines (one of which is in my room only, and pretty much only used for dialing onto the internet), and two AOL accounts (one for my brother only, and one for my mother and I to share). My parents couldn’t really care less what the set-up is, but I find this grossly inefficient and unnecessarily expensive, when broadband access is cheaper than ever.

I’ve looked at the bills and made a few calls, and it looks like we can save close to $600 a year by switching to BellSouth DSL Internet access and dropping the second phone line and both AOL accounts. There shouldn’t be anything else to say, but my mother is dead-set against having any workmen or tech support people come to the house. She is extremely paranoid after we were burglarized a few years ago. However, after talking to BellSouth on the phone, they made it seem like they mail us the hardware and software to get started, plus instructions, and we can do everything ourselves.

What concerns me is getting all three of our computers to be able to use the DSL connection at once, essentially so we can all be on the Internet at once. I am pretty sure this is possible with networking, although I have no experience doing that. From what I understand, I would need to buy something called a wireless router to create a network between the three computers, since it’s impossible to use wires across our entire house. Then would I need to also purchase three network cards, or wireless ethernet cards, or what? How much would I be looking at spending for that (beyond the regular BellSouth charges), and can anyone recommend specific brands or models? We all have PCs, two of which run Windows ME and the other runs Windows 98.

To sum it up, if we drop the AOL accounts and the second phone line and switch to BellSouth, it will be a lot cheaper, and the service will be a lot better. I just want to be sure I can link up the three computers so we can all be online at all times, all together, and how simple this is to do. Also, I’ve heard the security for a wireless router is very poor, so would be need to get a firewall, or something else to protect us?

ANY advice would be most appreciated! You can see I’m our family’s best hope, and I’m woefully inexperienced with such things.

EASIEST way, get DSL (or cable) run it into a 4 port router, then run a cable to each computer.

Slightly less easy way (but cleaner) Get wireless router with at least one port. Set it up next to one of the computers and run a wire to that one, and get wireless adapters for the other two. (All three could be wireless, but since wired is faster and a whole lot easier to set up you might as well take advantage of it)

I’m not going to bother going into specifics (how to setup, what equipment to buy etc…) until you decide what will work best for you. Just remember, I don’t know how tech savvy you are, but wireless can be a PITA to set up, especially if your router is bored and feels like giving you a hard time. Just post your question here and we’ll help though.

If it were me, I’d pull in cat5. But then, my job not infrequently entails pulling wires into finished buildings, so I know all kinds of tricks for doing that sort of thing without resorting to the ‘staple it along the baseboard’ technique of the typical cable guy.

I agree with Joey P, but I would also mention that BellSouth offers something called “Home Networking Plus”, which will set you up with a wireless LAN and firewall, and the technical support to keep it running, for $10 more per month (no technicians are required to visit).

My mom will refuse to have anything stapled along the floors, the ceilings, the baseboards, under her nice new carpets, anything remotely unsightly. That’s why I was hoping wireless would be easier.

AZCowboy, the guy on the phone did mention that offer for the additional $10 a month, but I was wondering if I could save money in the long run by doing it myself. However, if it entails taking the house apart or dealing with tempermental routers, I think that might not be a bad idea to go with their easy system for a little more money.

Wireless will be easier, if you don’t want to get into the attic or crawlspace with a drill and a fishtape. Anything’s possible, though. With the right tools, one can get wire through the walls into most anywhere.

That $10 a month keeps going on long after you have it all sorted out.

If you buy a Linksys router and Linksys wireless network cards, they will work together seamlessly. It’s really not that tough.

Linksys Wireless Router

I just set up a three computer wireless network in my house, so I can help if you go with that option. Here’s a preliminary list of materials:

[li]Wireless Router[/li][li]2 Wireless Adapters[/li][li]Network Cable[/li][/ul]

I just bought and installed a Belkin wireless router.

I have to say it was extremely easy. I was REALLY impressed by how easy in fact. I do computer stuff for a living, network and software stuff, and I am recommending this to everyone I know. The setup was a snap, no problems at all. Just install the card, hook up the router and run the install cd, follow some really simple directions and it was up and running. Best of all, no cat 5.


I actually just did this a few months ago, and it was amazingly simple. We have 3 PC’s in the house, so we set the main PC up with a wireless router. The main PC’s cable modem plugs right into the router using an ethernet cable, and then the other two PC’s in the house got wireless network cards put in them, and magically connect using that newfangled wireless technology.

I went with D-link products, which are reputably “shitty” but have worked with no problems. Best Buy seems to run huge rebate programs with these things, so after rebates the wireless router ended up being only $50 and the wireless network cards about $20 each.

If you go the wireless route…

Don’t leave it unsecured. Pretty much every apartment-style residence I’ve lived in lately has had several accessible wireless networks. For this building it’s two. For the last place it was three.

It will make it harder to set-up initially, but saves you the problem of other people using your bandwidth.

ANother factor to consider with a Wireless network is where the PC’s are placed. If there’s just a few walls in between them then things are good, however if one of them is blocked by large metal motor driven objects (furnace, refridgerator, etc) then there may be interferance and signal loss to those systems (which is why i had to scrap my Xbox wireless adapter and go Cat5

I need help with this and found this old thread and figured I would just post my question here rather than starting a new one. Anyway…

I just got SBC Yahoo DSL and I want to set up a wireless network for three computers (2 desktop and 1 laptop) I know I need USB wireless adaptors which I did buy but they do not appear to be working or I am doing something wrong (I am sure this is the case) I have a 2wire 802.11b wireless gateway device and the Adaptors state they are 802.11b.

Do I need to actually set up some sort of network on my main desktop? How/Where do I do this? Control Panel? All three systems are running Windows XP Home Edition.

I thought I could just install the software that came with the USB adaptor and I would be able to wirelessly connect… I am thinking this is obviously not the case :smack:

Any advice would be helpful.

I made the switch from AOL to DSL last year and never looked back, you’ll love it. I do have a question for the collected brain trust, is HPNA networking something to consider here? From the very little I understand about it (gleaned from the singularly unhelpful SBC DSL help site) it should allow you to network all the computers using the existing phone lines. Does anyone have any insights or opinions on HPNA?

HPNA info:

The bigest obstacle I can see right off is that it’s still a wired system. If there’s not a phone jack where you want to put a PC, you’re out of luck, and might as well go with WiFi.

Another observation - networking two WinME PCs and one Win98 is going to be a bit of a challenge with any type of network. If you concentrate on just being able to share the broadband, it’s really not terribly hard. File and printer sharing will test your patience.

I guess I get to tell the horror story.

I got DSL, and wanted to link just two computers. One was right next to the phone jack, the other in another room. And just to make things easier, both were running Windows XP.

The wireless part of the system worked fine. But the DSL modem, router and computers didn’t get along with each other. The rent-a-geek wound up costing $175, but I put it under “saving my own mental health.”

I fiddled with it several times before I gave up and called in a rent-a-geek. It took him two housecalls and several phone coversations before everything got straightened out.

I have a DSL network with 3 computers, 2 XP (one a laptop) and one a W98 machine. You need W98 SE to make the USB adaptor to work. That was my major problem. The other was changing my browser settings to get email to work - I had to load a new version of Mozilla for that.

The XP desktop is by the DSL hub. When we first got it we had a wireless card for the laptop, but when that died the new one we got has built in wireless, and that came up almost immediately. (Or it did after the on-line debugger told me where the on/off switch for the wireless modem was :slight_smile: )
We have a fairly big house, and have had no signal issues.

I agree that you need to secure the network. This isn’t hard, but will require that you write down a fairly long string.

I can’t imagine you wanting to run wire, because it reduces the flexibility of your setup. Doing work calls from the dining room or rec room table is a big plus.

Oh - we used AT&T DSL, so my wife would not have to change her email address. They sent a kit with very clear instructions, and no one had to come to the house. Their support was pretty good also. But I recommend you make sure one computer still works with dialup just in case you need to get online to ask questions.

I’d say if you plan to use this setup for more than a year, it’s best to build your own, since it will probably pay for itself in two years.

As Voyager said, you will need SE for Windows 98 to use the wireless adapter. I would consider upgrading to Windows 2000 or XP if your computer can handle it.

I had a W98 machine for a short time after I got DSL. I had a hell of a time getting it to recognize a network card, and then making sure that it was in the right PCI slot. Windows 98 seemed to have a problem that a network card cannot be on the same interrupt request line as certain other devices, and this caused a ton of problems for me.

As for the setup, it is actually really easy. You should get the DSL modem, a splitter, and a bunch of filters from your ISP. The filters go on every phone line that will not have the modem attached ( i.e. all but one) On the other phone line, you put the splitter, which sends the phone signal to the phone, and the DSL signal to the modem.

As others said, if you don’t mind crawling under your house to have cat5 cable instead of using wireless, it is usually easier to set up once you string the cable, on top of being a faster connection.

      • On another tech board this question came up (of how to connect two computers) and it was noted that now, the hardware for wireless only costs a bit more than for wired. A cheap wired hub or router costs about $30, and two 7-foot cables cost about $7 each, total= $44. Cheap wireless hubs and PCI cards now are about $30 each, total=$60. There’s a performance hit with wireless and they do need to be secured but if you really don’t want to do construction running cables, then $16 isn’t a whole lot more to pay.