To connect a laptop to the Internet through a dial-up connection, first install the software provided by the Internet service provider, connect the laptop to a phone line via the cable that came with your Internet kit, and connect another cable to your modem. Open the dial-up screen on your laptop, provide your username and password, and then click Connect.
To connect to the Internet via Ethernet, first connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the appropriate port on your laptop and the other end to the port on the modem. Next, install the software that came with the modem. If the modem is properly set up, the laptop may automatically connect to the Internet. You may be prompted to enter the username and password your broadband company provided.
To connect your laptop to the Internet via Wi-Fi, first check whether the laptop has a built-in wireless network adapter. If it doesn't, attach an external adapter, install the appropriate driver, and then restart the laptop. Ensuring you're in the range of a working wireless network, click on the Wi-Fi menu icon, select the name of the Wi-Fi network you wish to connect to, enter the password if prompted, and click Connect.
Wireless network adapters function much like a cellular phone, utilizing high-frequency radio signals to transmit and receive large volumes of data over relatively short distances. The actual range is determined by the wireless broadcast device, known as a router. Most consumer models have an effective radius up to 100 feet. Very high end wireless routers may even exceed this, but even inexpensive models can be combined with Wi-Fi repeaters to extend the range of the signal. Wired connections are much different, in that their range is limited to the length of the cable used to connect to them. These connections can be either shared, through a router, or dedicated by connecting a computer directly to the modem itself. Today, very few computers are designed for use with dial-up connections, and thus the presence of network interface cards and wireless network adapters has become standard practice for almost every major computer manufacturer in the world.