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Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem


Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Hi - I'm hoping someone can help. I have my desktop PC connected to broadband using a USB modem (came with my Plusnet package, cant remember the make/model). My girlfriend has recently bought a laptop which has an inbuilt wireless card.

I'm hoping to get the laptop using broadband, but I'm not sure the best way of going about this. I dont really want to go and buy a wireless router, so I was wondering if a USB wireless adapter or PCI adapter plugged into my desktop PC would work? I realise this would mean leaving the desktop plugged in and connected, but in theory is it possible?

Many thanks in advance.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

The theory is possible, but if you're looking for good signal strengths and distance then it'd be best to pay a bit more for the router. You can pick up an ADSL Modem/Router for around £40 these days, not much more than the ~£20 you'd spend on a PCI/USB Wifi adaptor.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Well, we'd most likely be in the same room when using the computers, so distance isn't an issue, but it's good to know I have the option of either - thanks.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Or a wireless access point could be an option.

For the difference in price though, and taking on board that you're gonna be in the same room, I'd forget all about wireless!

The best way to maximise *your* connection to the 'net is via wired connection to a router.

The best way to maximise the GF's connection to the net, is via a wired connection to the same router!

Lots of folks will tell you that wireless is great (including myself, I use it extensively at home and work), but there are lots of pitfalls that aren't worth risking if you are in the same room.

I'd buy a non-wireless router, and use cat5 connections - its easier to configure, easier to keep secure, and cheaper. Cat5 works fine up to a hundred metres without interferance, and works similarly well right down to a few inches (ie as short as you can make a cable which will allow you to connect)

Wireless routers and access points tend to get upset if you are too close, and upset if you are too far away. They have much lower throughput capabilities, and are hackable whatever security measures you try to take. This is without going into Intel's increasingly hidden power options which reduce throughput even lower than the speeds it declares on screen!

Wireless might be flogged endlessly as more convenient, but you gotta watch out for when its as convenient to use cables, but with extra benefits.

You'll pick up a router for a little more than you'd pay for a decent WiFi dongle, and the extra £20 will be well worth it!

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Cheers for the reply. I'll head down to (ugh!) PC world after work and see how much a router + cable is compared to a wireless USB dongle/PCI card.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Looking online (me doesn't like PC World [spit]) you can get the highly rated Netgear DG834 for ~£40 (linky)

The Belkin USB Wifi Dongle I got cost me about £20.

It depends on your circumstances as to whether £20 is a big difference either way, although I guess with a bit of shopping around, you might narrow the gap further.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Ok, so I bought myself a wireless Belikin USB dongle, it was only £20 as opposed to £60 for the cheapest modem router. I've installed it on my desktop PC, and then just thought to what?!?

I've got a fair knowledge of computers but this is new to me. I realise this may not be the best place to ask, but any help would be appreciated!

At the moment the laptop and PC are not talking to each other, and I'm not really sure where to start.
Plusnet Staff
Plusnet Staff
Posts: 12,169
Thanks: 18
Fixes: 1
Registered: 04-04-2007

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

I've never set this up myself, but what you want to create is a "wireless ad-hoc network". The following guide from Microsoft looks pretty good:

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

I sense I'm being a pain in the arse here....

Thanks for that. I've set up my desktop as a host, and I'm sure that's working ok. However I'm having trouble setting up the laptop as a client. Whenever I ask the laptop to view available wireless networks it keeps reporting it cant see see any. And I'm stumped.

The laptop is a Toshiba Sat Pro 4600 with an internal Toshiba Wireless LAN mini PCI. The laptop is reporting no problems with this device. Any idea where to turn next?

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

The problem you have is the laptop can only access the internet if the pc is turned on and connected. If you had got a router then either could connect without the other one being on.

Setting up the network depends on what is supplied with the cards etc some make it simple other make it hard. In general on the pc find the properties for the wireless card set the ip to with a subnet of if there is a setting choose adhoc set the channel to 5.

On the laptop find the wireless network card properties and set the ip to subnet and the default gateway to set the dns to plusnet dns set the channel to 5. You should then be able to find the pc from the laptop and connect it may be worth getting netstumbler which is free from

this will show the wireless networks up and you should be able to see the other machine with it. If there is any other on the channel you chose try another one but both must be set the same.
If you have any firewall installed you may have to fiddle with them to get it to work

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Still no joy Sad

My PC is turned on and connected, as you suggested. I've also set the IP and subnet on the PC as suggested. I've set the IP address, subnet and default gateway of the wireless card, but I wasn't sure what you meant about the DNS - The Preffered DNS server and Alternate DNS server are both currently blank.

I've just downloaded netstumbler and let it scan, but no joy with that either, it doesn't pick up anything.

Firewalls on both pc and laptop are currently off as well.

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

For the dns you can use

You should be able with netstumbler to pick up the other pc have you tried it on the pc and the laptop?

Can you do a ipconfig /all and post the results from both machines(ie start run type cmd then type ipconfig /all)

Are you sure you have the settings for the radio network card set and havent set the properties for the ethernet cards? Some of them can be tricky to set up and some you have to bridge the connection. Is there a util with the Belkin to search for networks as they often override windows ones.

Make sure on the properties of both wireless cards that you havent got wep wpk or any other protection set on(we can get to that when you have it working) All so make sure both pc have their workgroup set to the same name ie workgroup as xp home tend to call it mshome or simliar.

Can you ping the other pc from the laptop and from pc to laptop ie type ping

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Right - first thing first, and I've got beacon cheeks as I type - half my problem is solved! No-one told me that there was a little on/off switch for the wireless on the laptop. Ha ha, cant believe I missed it!

Right, so the laptop and pc can see each other now, and a new Internet Gateway connection has appeared amongst my network connections, however I still cant access any websites.

I've entered the DNS as you suggested.

I've tried pinging the pc from the laptop and all 4 packets are lost.

My ipconfig /all results are:


windows ip congig
host name - connie
primary dns suffix - BLANK
node type - unknown
IP routing enabled - no
wins proxy enabled - no

ethernet wireless connection
connection specific dns suffix - BLANK
description - toshiba wireless lan mini pci card
physical address - 00-0202D-33-2F-9F
dhcp enabled - no
ip address -
subnet mask -
default gateway -
dns servers -

Desktop PC:

Windows IP Configuration

Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : Ste
Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . :
Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Unknown
IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : Yes
WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection 4:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
Description . . . . . . . . . . . : 3Com EtherLink XL 10/100 PCI For Com
plete PC Management NIC (3C905C-TX)
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-0A-5E-3C-FC-F7

Ethernet adapter Wireless Network Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Belkin Wireless G USB Network Adapte
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-17-3F-8D-63-39
Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : No
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . :
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

PPP adapter Voyager 105 ADSL Modem Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
Description . . . . . . . . . . . : WAN (PPP/SLIP) Interface
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-53-45-00-00-00
Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : No
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . :
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :
DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . :
NetBIOS over Tcpip. . . . . . . . : Disabled

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

We are getting somewhere slowly. Can netstumbler now see the other computer both ways and are they both on the same channel?

If you cant ping the other pc then something is stopping it try disabling the windows firewall or any other firewall on both pc's and see if that solves it(some anti virus like Mcafee can also stop it as well). If it does turn it back on and on the advanced setting make sure you have local network allowed and under icmp make sure you have allow incoming packet allowed. On the local setting make sure web server http are allowed and icmp are also allowed.

if you can get ping t work then try a webapage and if that fails try a tracert and post the results

Setting up a wireless network with a USB modem

Nearly there! Thanks ever so much for your help. I'm typing this from the laptop connected wirelessly at last!

I think the problem was McAfee, but in the settings I've allowed the laptop's IP as a trusted IP, and that worked (I assume that was the right thing to do?)

Firewalls on both PC and laptop are turned back on, and all seems to be ok. I've enabled WEP on the data encryption thing on the desktop PC - does that need to be enabled on the laptop as well?

Anything else security wise I need to take note of?