Having a broadband connection set up for home networking is essential these days, but unless you are something of a networking buff it is not quite as simple to set up correctly as certain TV advertisements would suggest.
The equipment varies slightly depending on whether you are setting up a cable modem or an ADSL router, but the principle is very much the same. Common devices added to home networks include PCs, laptops, tablets, printers and game consoles.
There are three different ways that devices can be connected to the network and each device will require an integral wireless network card, an Ethernet cable or an external wireless modem (dongle).
Common Software Problems
Sometimes the set-up can go smoothly, especially if there are only one or two devices in addition to the main PC, but there can sometimes be some teething troubles initially. Those who feel confident in attempting to resolve issues themselves can use these tips but those who do not should contact their ISP's help desk for further instructions.
A situation can arise in which the devices all appear to have connected to the network but are unable to 'see' each other or one specific device simply refuses to connect (a well-known problem with a popular brand of laptop running Vista).
In either of these instances, the two most common error messages which may be shown are:
- Unable to renew your IP address
- Unable to clear the DNS cache
Fix for 'Unable to Renew Your IP Address
This is the most common error with a very simple fix that will often resolve the problem. To obtain a new IP address:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt
Type in ipconfig/renew > Enter
Fix for 'Unable to Clear the DNS Cache'
Log on as administrator and then follow these steps:
Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services > MMC Plugin
Locate 'DNS Client' in the list and double-click
Change the Start-up Type from Disabled to Manual > Apply
Restart the PC
Common Hardware Problems
Problems with hardware can manifest themselves in various ways. Cold spots are areas in the house where there is no wireless signal. They can often be resolved by relocating the router. A slow connection can be caused by physical faults, so begin by checking all cables and network cards for defects before attempting any other type of fix. Connection dropouts are usually caused by the ISP or (rarely) a faulty router.
Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
The UK has three main internet service providers - BT, Sky TV and Virgin - but there are several other smaller services from which to choose. Most UK ISPs supply the hardware free of charge as an inclusive part of their package prices, but it is not always ideal for the needs of their customers.
In the US, the top three ISPs are Comcast, AT & T and Time Warner and they are much more competitive than UK providers. This is not just in terms of price, but also in the quality of their home networking equipment and their customer-service policies. Broadband Expert has Time Warner Cable internet information, which makes for very interesting reading.
Broadband Expert is a comparison site with a difference. It only compares broadband services and it is full of useful reviews, guides and articles, which are invaluable in helping to make an informed decision about UK providers.