How to Connect a Laptop to a Wireless DSL Modem

by David Weedmark

A wireless DSL modem allows you to enjoy high-speed Internet access in just about every room of your house. The modem and the wireless router are built into the same device, and setting it up takes only about 10 or 15 minutes. Most laptop computers come with a built-in wireless adapter, so connecting to a wireless signal, or Wi-Fi, should take only a few seconds.

Connecting to a Wireless DSL Modem

Place the wireless DSL modem in a central location, if possible. To ensure the best signal, place it above the floor, and away from walls and metal objects like computer cases, metal desks and filing cabinets.

Place the laptop within close proximity to the wireless DSL modem. Although you will probably be able to access the signal in just about every room of your house, a strong signal makes it easier to identify your modem the first time you connect to it. For best results, bring the laptop into the same room as the modem.

Turn on the laptop and click the "Network" icon, which looks like a bar graph, in the notification area of the desktop, beside the time.

Select your wireless DSL modem from the list of available networks. This list may also include wireless networks used by neighbors or nearby businesses. An icon beside each network name indicates its signal strength. You should be able to identify your modem as one of the strongest signals listed, as well as by the name of your Internet Service Provider or modem manufacturer.

Enter your network security key, if prompted, by typing it in the text field in the "Connect to Network" dialog box. This key is often supplied to you by your Internet Service Provider, or may have been chosen by the person who set up the modem.

Launch a Web browser to see if you have Internet access. If you do not have access to the Internet, continue to the next section.

Connecting to the Internet

Click the "Start" button, select "Control Panel," type "network" in the search field, then click "Network and Sharing Center" from the search results.

Click "Set Up a New Connection or Network."

Double-click "Connect to the Internet" to launch the Internet Connection Wizard. Follow the onscreen instructions, and enter the username and password provided by your Internet Service Provider when prompted by the Wizard.


  • While the range of 802.11g wireless can be as much as 100 to 150 feet indoors, this can be reduced considerably by interference, obstructions and even atmospheric conditions. The farther you are from a wireless signal, the weaker the signal will be and the more difficult it may be to secure a connection.


  • If your wireless DSL modem does not require a password before you can connect to it, consult the manufacturer's documentation to change the security settings to WPA or WPA2 encryption, which requires a password. An unencrypted wireless network can be easily manipulated by anyone with the right tools, giving them the opportunity to access your Internet connection or the data on your computer, including the websites you visit and the information you type on the keyboard.
  • An 802.11g wireless DSL modem uses the same 2.4-GHz frequency as many microwaves and cordless telephones, and these devices may interfere with your wireless connection. Move your modem away from such devices.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

Photo Credits

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