If you have a live Broadband Internet Connection and are setting up your Broadband Modem/Router for the first time, you normally set it up with a Wired Internet Connection first using its supplied Power Supply Unit (PSU), Ethernet Cable, Telephone (ADSL) Cable and Installation DVD before attempting to set it up with an additional, optional, Wireless Network (Wireless Internet Connection).
When the broadband modem/router is set up using a wired (ethernet cable) connection you then have 3 spare ethernet sockets at the back of the broadband modem/router that can be used to give other devices such as a Laptop, XBox and Sky TV Box an internet connection. At this point the installation wizard (installation dvd software) should of automatically set up the broadband modem/router with a Wireless Network (wireless internet connection) or at least ask if you want one setting up. Either way, once a wireless network (wireless internet connection) has been set up it will have a Wireless Network Name (known as a: SSID or User Name) and a Wireless Network Key (known as a Password or Security Phrase); both of which you use when wanting to give other devices an internet connection.
When you share your broadband internet connection among multiple devices, either as a wired connection or wireless connection, each device is then using up some of your broadband speed. So if your broadband speed is 8 Mbps (Mega Bits Per Second) and only one device is connected to your broadband modem/router, either wirelessly or wired, that device can use the whole 8Mbps for its own internet uses. However, if you then connect another device to your broadband modem/router, either wirelessly or wired, both devices can then only use 4Mbps each; if they are both using the internet at the same time. If one device is not using the internet the other gets to use the whole 8Mbps for itself. If you then have four devices connected to your broadband modem/router, either wirelessly or wired, whereby they are all using the internet, they will all have 25% usage of the broadband speed. That is a normal scenario for a Broadband Modem/Router and your Broadband Speed.
Fig 1.0 Wireless Modem/Router....
Fig 1.1 ....with 1 ADSL Socket, 4 Ethernet Sockets and 1 Power Socket.
The Modem part of the Broadband Modem/Router is the hardware that dials up (connects to) your broadband company (ISP - Internet Service Provider) via the Telephone Cable, with your unique Broadband User Name & Password, in order to make the Broadband Internet Connection. This happens each time you restart the computer or restart (unplug/re-plug) the modem/router. When the broadband internet connection has been made the Router part of the broadband modem/router can then route (split/direct) the broadband internet connection, coming down the telephone line and into the modem, either wirelessly or via the ethernet sockets when a device is connected to it using an ethernet cable.
This is why other devices can also connect to your Wireless Network (wirelessly routed internet connection) and gain free internet access, but only when they know your Wireless Network Name (SSID or User Name) and Network Key (Password or Security Phrase) or when you have left your wireless network open (unsecure/not password protected). So to clarify: The router can route the broadband internet connection (telephone signal) through one or more of its ethernet sockets (with Ethernet Cables) whilst still routing it through the air waves wirelessly (in the form of a wireless network). In this case the broadband internet connection (telephone signal) would be routed (split and then shared) between all the devices connected to the router, regardless if they are connected wirelessly or via an ethernet cable.
If you set up your broadband modem/router using an Installation DVD, as opposed to manually programming it via the modem/router control panel (IP Address), a Wireless Network should normally be created for you; that is named after your broadband company (i.e. TalkTalk) followed by a random set of letters/numbers (i.e. TalkTalk9j866). On top of this the router should broadcast your wireless network name (ssid or user name), by default, in order for it to be visible to devices with wireless network capabilities built-in (such as mobile phones) and to computers with a Wireless Network Card/Adapter attached/built-in to them. This is so that those devices/computers can easily find your wireless network by name and connect to it straight away.....provided they know the wireless network's Network Key (Password / Security Phrase), if it has one.
Regardless if a wireless network belongs to you or not, you will need a computer that has a Wireless Network Card/Adapter attached/built-in to it in order to connect to that wireless network; and therefore be added to that wireless network. A Wireless Network Card/Adapter comes in three formats - Internal PCI for the computer, External PCMCIA for the laptop (obsolete in new laptops) and External USB for either of them.
Fig 2.0 PCI Network Card
Fig 2.1 PCMCIA Network Card
Fig 2.2 USB Network Adaptor
As the main computer is normally wired up to the broadband modem/router, via an ethernet cable, for the installation process many people are led to believe that once the installation process has finished they should leave the main computer wired up to the broadband modem/router, but this is only true if the main computer has no way of utilising the wireless network (wireless internet connection). If it has no Wireless Network Adapter / Card installed for example. If it does have a wireless network adaptor/card installed though you have the choice of using a wired (ethernet cable) internet connection or wireless (network adaptor/card) internet connection. So you could disconnect the ethernet cable if this is the case; if you don't like wiring all over the place.
Another belief is that you need to keep the installation software installed. This is only true if you want to use any Diagnosis software that came with the installation software, but even that is not needed as the OS X (Mountain Lion) operating system software has a Network/Hardware Diagnostic application built-in to it. So really, to save hard drive space and unnecessary running of a background task, you will be better of uninstalling the installation software. If you need it you can always re-install it.
When a computer with a wireless network adaptor/card inside it is up and running, the network adaptor/card should be able to detect any wireless network that is within range (i.e. within 50 Meters). Unlike in Windows where you are informed of Available Wireless Networks via a pop-up window (balloon message) "Wireless Networks Detected", "Wireless Network Connection Is Not Connected" and so on, in OS X (Mountain Lion) you are informed of available networks via the Network Icon in the Menu Bar instead. Below are examples of the WiFi Signal icon which sits to the far left of the main group of icons to the right of the Menu Bar.
Fig 2.3 WiFi OFF - WiFi has been switched off (disabled)
Fig 2.4 WiFi ON - Currently trying to connect to a preferred Wireless Network
Fig 2.5 WiFi ON - Currently connected to a preferred Wireless Network
Fig 2.6 WiFi ON - Not connected to any Wireless Network
If the computer was connected to a preferred wireless network before you switched it off OS X (Mountain Lion) should automatically reconnect the computer to that preferred wireless network upon computer start-up, but this depends on whether or not the wireless network adaptor/card is switched on (enabled) and whether or not the preferred wireless network is still within range. If so, OS X (Mountain Lion) should connect to the preferred wireless network without problems and display the Wireless Network Icon as shown in Fig 2.5 above.
If the computer is disconnected from a wireless network, either manually or naturally, before the computer is switched off you will have to manually reconnect to that wireless network when the computer has been restarted.
Assuming you have never connected to a wireless network before, the first thing you need to do is check that WiFi is switched on (enabled) so that you can see if at least one wireless network is available. You will know whether or not WiFi is switched on (enabled) by looking at the Wireless Network Icon on the menu bar. If it is hollow, the same as Fig 2.3 above, WiFi is switched off (disabled); in which case click on the hollow Wireless Network Icon on the menu bar and select the TURN WI-FI ON menu-item to switch WiFi on.
Fig 3.0 Make sure WiFi is switched on (enabled) by selecting the TURN WI-FI ON menu-item
Once WiFi is switched on (enabled) the hollow Wireless Network Icon on the menu bar will change into a grey, more solid, icon (as shown in Fig 2.6 above and 3.1 below). This means WiFi is currently switch on (enabled) but your computer hasn't been connected to a wireless network yet. So at this point you need to click on the grey, solid, Wireless Network Icon on the menu bar and then select (click on) the wireless network you preferred your computer to be connected to; in this example I am going to click on the wireless network called: Yoingco.
NOTE - You may have to give the Wireless Network Icon menu a few seconds to list your preferred wireless network as well as other wireless networks, but this is normal.
Fig 3.1 Click on the grey, solid, Wireless Network Icon to continue
Fig 3.2 Click on a wireless network of your choice to have your computer connect to it
After clicking on the wireless network of your choice (your preferred wireless network) a PASSWORD message requester might appear, if the wireless network uses a password. If it does, simply type its password into the PASSWORD edit box of the message requester before clicking on the JOIN button to proceed. JOIN means join your computer, and more precisely its wireless adaptor/card, to the wireless network created by your router/isp. Or put another way; Connect your computer and router together in order to give your computer a wireless broadband internet connection.
Fig 3.3 Enter the password for the wireless network into the PASSWORD edit box before clicking on JOIN
As long as the password is correct, after clicking on the JOIN button your computer should then be connected to the wireless network and thereby be sharing a wireless broadband internet connection with the aid of your router. Or put another way; You should now have a wireless broadband internet connection to use whereby you can now check your e-mails with the Mail application, shop online with the Safari application, share files, set up a wireless printer and so on.
NOTE WELL - It is illegal to use someone else's unsecure wireless network, intentionally or unintentionally. Just because the owner knowingly, or unknowingly, has their wireless network unsecure (it uses no password) does not mean it is free for everyone to use - It is NOT free for everyone to use. Remember. That owner is paying their broadband bill each month for "up to 8 MegaBytes" of broadband usage for example. They do not need people watering down that usage by illegally using it. So if you do find out your computer has mistakenly been using someone else's broadband change your wireless network connection settings as soon as possible. And YES, you can be traced - Their router will record all connections.
Fig 3.4 The computer is now connected to the, preferred, wireless network called: Yoingco.
In the above example my computer is now connected to the wireless network called Yoingco, denoted by the tick to the left of it in the list of wireless networks. If I now restart my computer OS X (Mountain Lion) will automatically re-connect to that Yoingco wireless network simply because it has been programmed to remembered the Yoingco wireless network and its settings by default (normal behaviour). The same applies to any other wireless network I connect to.
If you don't want MacOS remembering all the wireless networks you have connected to, whereby it automatically connects to the last/preferred wireless network, you should change the REMEMBER NETWORKS THIS COMPUTER HAS JOINED option in the NETWORK System Preferences - Open the NETWORK System Preferences, click on the ADVANCED button (Fig 3.5 below) and then untick the REMEMBER NETWORKS THIS COMPUTER HAS JOINED option (Fig 3.6).
Fig 3.5 Open the NETWORK System Preferences (control panel) and click on the ADVANCED button to proceed
Fig 3.6 Untick the REMEMBER NETWORKS THIS COMPUTER HAS JOINED option to forget wireless networks
If you want to delete a wireless network from the list simply select its network name from the list of wireless networks (above) and then click on the MINUS (-) button. Although this will not remove its wireless network settings, such as its password, it will mean the wireless network is not connected to automatically. However, if you click on the wireless name from the Wireless Network Icon on the menu bar (in that list of wireless networks) its wireless network will automatically be connected to again because its password will not of been forgotten (erased).
Deleting a wireless network from the list of wireless networks can be a solution to the scenario: "It always connects to that network for some strange reason.....". Alternatively, you could just rearrange the listed networks by dragging them up or down the list so that your preferred wireless network is at the top of the list.
If you want/need to disconnect from a certain wireless network, for whatever reason(s), you either have to delete the wireless network (as just shown, above), turn off wifi altogether or connect to another wireless network within the list of wireless networks.
Fig 4.0 Connect to another wireless network in order to disconnect from the current one
One thing to note here is that if you connect to another wireless network it will automatically become the preferred wireless network and therefore go to the top of the wireless network list and be the wireless network OS X (Mountain Lion) connects to automatically from now on.
To see how good/bad the wireless signal strength is between your computer's wireless network adaptor/card and the router with the wireless network simply click on the Wireless Network Icon (Fig 3.4 above). Doing so will then display the signal strength of each wireless network (Figures 3.4 and 4.0 above).
The signal strength is indicated by its Black Bars or Grey Bars rating. Five bars means Excellent Signal Strength, usually because your computer is right next to the wireless router or a couple of feet away only. And one bar means Poor Signal Strength, usually because your computer is too far away from the wireless router and/or because some object is blocking/weakening the signal for example. In Fig 4.0 above you can see that the Wave58G and BTHUB3-WW6R wireless networks both have a weak signal whereas the Yoingco and BTHomeHub2-CH8K wireless networks both have a strong signal.
Two common reasons for not being able to establish a connection to a wireless network are 1) Because the network key (security password) is incorrect and 2) Because the wireless signal is too low/weak due to your computer being too far from the router. If you need a list of Default Passwords associated with a particular router click here. Here are some things to think about and acknowledge when using wireless technology in general.