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Chapter 3. Sharing a Connection > Networking Without Cables

Networking Without Cables

If installing multiple Ethernet cards and running miles of cable from PC to PC isn’t your idea of fun (or isn’t practical in your house), then you can opt to connect your PCs together in a non-cabled network. There are actually three types of networks that connect without traditional cabling—wireless, telephone line, and power line.

Wireless networks utilize RF (radio frequency) signals to link multiple computers together. There are two competing types of wireless networks, HomeRF and Wi-Fi (also known as 802.11b). HomeRF, which can transfer data at either 2Mbps or 10Mbps (depending on the version), is better suited to home use, due to its lower cost and ease of installation. Wi-Fi is targeted to larger businesses and corporations; it is both more costly and more difficult to install, but features greater stability and an 11Mbps data transfer rate.

Telephone line networks use the telephone lines in your home to transfer data from computer-to-computer. Telephone-line networking (also referred to as HomePNA, based on the specifications developed by the Home Phone Networking Alliance) works by connecting each computer to an adapter that plugs into a standard phone jack; data signals are sent through the adapter into your home phone line, and picked back up by another adapter and PC elsewhere on the network. Depending on the version of HomePNA you’re using, speed is either 1Mbps or 10Mbps. (The faster version is recommended for Internet connection sharing.)

Power line networks enable you to connect computers by sending data over the electrical lines in your house. Although a power line network can be extremely convenient and easy to set up, it is also very slow (data transfer can be as low as 50Kbps) and prone to disruptions from other electrical devices in your home. This type of network is not particularly suited for Internet connection sharing.

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