Setting up a Wireless Router – Introduction

Before reading our guide to setting up a wireless router you may wish to read our installing a wireless router guide

Our aim here is to add a wireless router to allow sharing of your ISP internet connection between all of your home PCs, laptops and other wireless devices.

Your broadband internet connection will generally be supplied by either cable or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line).

Generally an ISP (Internet Service Provider) that provides your broadband connection in DSL format will be supplied by the telephone companies and cable format by the TV companies.

Therefore you should either have a cable or DSL type modem installed if you already have broadband in your home.

Setting up a Wireless Router – ISP / Broadband connection

Before setting up a wireless router the first thing you need to do is to gather up some important set up information, particularly if you have a DSL type broadband ISP supplier, so that you can get your ISP to router connection set up and working correctly.

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will have given you a number of configuration parameters to enter during initial setup – make sure that you have all of these details to hand in case you should need them.

Luckily, nowadays, a lot of routers will perform this set up automatically and only require you to enter minimal information required for your ISP account, i.e. ISP Login, Name and Password and ISP DNS (Domain Name Server) addresses if you were supplied with these.

Some ISPs may use a specific Multiplexing Method or a Virtual Circuit number for the VPI (Virtual Path Identifier) or VCI (Virtual Channel Identifier).

If so note this down. A VPI will be a number in the range of 0 to 255 and a VCI number between 1 and 65535.

Your Internet connection will be provided via one of the following types:

• DHCP – Dynamic IP Assignment

• PPPoE – Login Protocol

• PPPoA – Login Protocol

• Static IP – Fixed IP address assignment

Your ISP will provide details of the type of connection and if your router does not automatically detect this then you can instruct it manually and then once selected proceed to entering your Login and Password details etc as described above.

For further details you will need to refer to your router manual and ISP provider logon details.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Initial setup

Ok, now connect up your router as follows:

Connect your router WAN (Wide Area Network) port to your broadband line (if your router is a combined type with integral modem) or to your broadband modem.

If you are using a DSL type connection connect your modem to a phone jack.

If you are using cable then connect your modem to a cable jack.

The port labelled WAN or Internet is used to connect your cable or DSL modem using CAT 5 type cable.

Do not confuse this port with one of the Ethernet LAN ports!

Connect a PC or laptop to one of the routers Ethernet LAN (Local Area Network) ports using Ethernet Cat 5 type cable.

If you have a cable modem already installed then you shouldn’t need to configure your router, it should all be pretty much set up for you although you may need to ‘fake’ the MAC address – see later.

Most of the configuration for setting up a wireless router with a DSL service provider should be accomplished automatically as most modern routers only require you to input your login details.

Your wireless router, if it is a modern one, should have DHCP capabilities and will automatically assign an IP address to your laptop or PC so that the two can communicate correctly.

You will now be able to use your PCs web browser to access your wireless router configuration / setup page.

Note, if you are determined to have a completely wire free network that’s fine but initially we will set up the router with a laptop or desktop PC temporarily hard wired to the router using CAT-5 Ethernet cable.

Once the router has been configured and your WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) has been set up you will be able to remove the wired Ethernet connection and no further wires will be necessary.

However, our recommendation though, especially if you have a PC situated close to your wireless router, is to retain one PC with a direct connection as troubleshooting etc will be far easier. You see, wireless signals are prone to interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones, walls, floors furniture etc and troubleshooting is far easier when you don’t have to consider whether your problem is simply due to or compounded by a poor wireless signal for instance.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Router setup

Ok, now we are all connected up go to your PC and open up a web page using your preferred web browser. Router configuration and set-up is accessed via a web browser page.

To logon to your router you will need to know your wireless router IP address and then you can type this in to the web browser as depicted below, for example: 

Once you have entered this you will be confronted with a logon page where you will need to enter your default username and password.

Note – If you can’t find the router IP address, open up a command prompt from the Windows Start menu and type ‘ipconfig’ in the command prompt window. You will now see a listing and amongst this you should find reference to the ‘gateway address’ – this is the router address!

The username and password should be changed once you have logged on for the first time to something more secure – remember those online hackers you hear about!

For reference, popular router brand default login and IP addresses are as follows:

Make IP Address Username Password

Belkin none none

D-Link none none

Linksys admin admin

Netgear admin password

Now login and you will be presented with your router configuration page.

We shall be using a Netgear router for our example as shown below:

As discussed, configure your router using the ISP details you gathered earlier.

Firstly, set your router to obtain its IP address automatically using DHCP.

Note – if you have a separate cable modem it will already have all of the settings required to connect to the internet.

If you have a built in ADSL/DSL modem type router you may have to manually enter the internet settings you gathered earlier. Modern wireless routers should, upon first connection, auto-detect these settings for you but if not you’ll have to enter these manually specifying PPPoE or PPPoA, VPI and VCI values and PAP or PAP and CHAP authentication etc as described.

Some ISP / Cable providers will require the router to fake its MAC address, referred to as MAC spoofing or cloning. Use the MAC address of your original PC attached to the modem, now replaced by your router.

This cloning of the MAC address (a unique identification code) is required as the first time the account was set up the original MAC address was logged (your original PC connected directly to the modem) and the ISP requires all subsequent logins to be from the same MAC address. This verifies that you are one of their customers.

Once your settings are entered make sure that you save the set-up.

Logout of the router configuration page and you should now be able to open up a search engine web page using your newly installed router.

Congratulations! Hopefully you are now connected and can access the Internet.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Network name and Channel

Now we need to set up our wireless network. Log back into the main wireless router configuration page and look for the wireless setup page in the sub menu.

Enable wireless networking by activating the Wireless AP (Access Point) and give your network a unique name, know as the SSID (Service set identifier) which identifies one WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) from another.

There is an option to enable or disable broadcasting your SSID which makes your network harder for unauthorised users to find if you should wish. We find that this just makes it more difficult for you to connect to your network and if someone really wants to gain access to your network, they will!

You will need to set up the wireless channel that you wish to broadcast on and you should try to use a channel that is preferably not currently used by your neighbors in your local area to avoid interference.

For the US and Canada you will have channels 1 to 11 available to you and for Europe channels 1 to 13.

Channels do overlap and generally you will want to choose from the non-overlapping channels, i.e. 1, 6 and 11.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Encryption

Now you must setup your wireless signal encryption to provide security for your network and to prevent unauthorised access to your internet connection.

Make sure that you choose the level of encryption that is suitable for your entire network PCs laptops and other devices.

Basic WEP type encryption should be available on most PCs and laptop network adaptors but is not as strongly encrypted as the newer WPA or WPA2 standards. Choose WPA or WPA2 if possible.

Select WEP, WPA or WPA2 encryption and enter the same key or passphrase into your router and each PC, laptop or device connected to your network.

Your key will be made up of a set of numbers and letters and you should refer to the wireless router documentation for details of this.

When you have entered the key, click on the ‘Apply settings’ button to activate – now do this on all of your other devices attached to your network as follows.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Join the network

Now, the purpose of adding a router was to be able to share our Internet connection and also to use the router switch to be able to share files and printers etc between all of our networked PCs.

Go to each of your wireless enabled PCs and or laptops and right click on the wireless network icon in your taskbar (you should see a little picture of a PC with radio waves in the bottom right corner of your taskbar).

Choose ‘View Wireless Networks’ or ‘Connect to a Network’ and double click on the SSID name, broadcasted by your wireless router, that you entered during your wireless router setup.

You will now be prompted to select the encryption type and enter the encryption key or passphrase. Select and enter the key and click ‘Connect’. Your router will, via DHCP, allocate your PC or laptop with a unique IP address and you should now be able to surf the internet and are all set to start sharing files and printers etc after performing some simple steps to enable sharing.

Connect up any other PCs etc that you wish to add to your network and check that they can all access the Internet.

Providing your PC and laptop network adapters have been set to:

‘Obtain an IP address automatically’


‘Obtain DNS server address automatically’

and the router has been configured as a ‘DHCP server’ then each PC should be automatically assigned its own unique IP address upon connection and you will immediately be able to gain Internet access.

Setting up a Wireless Router – Positioning your wireless router

Make sure that you position your wireless router to give the strongest signal available to all of your wireless PCs, laptops and other devices.

Generally this will mean placing it as close to the center of the house as possible.

Choose a location that is off the floor and away from walls and any metallic objects such as radiators or filing cabinets and the like.

Ensure that your router is situated away from microwave ovens and cordless phones which typically operate on the same 2.4 GHz operating frequency causing interference and disruption to your wireless signal.