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What is a ADSL Wireless Modem Router?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

An ADSL wireless modem router creates a local area network (LAN) without using wires, allowing computers to share files with one another, resources such as a central printer, and an ADSL Internet connection. ADSL, or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, (more commonly called DSL), is a high-speed Internet service that utilizes existing copper telephone lines. DSL traffic uses a different frequency band than telco voice traffic, allowing both the telephone and DSL to be used simultaneously.

The ADSL wireless modem router incorporates multiple components. The router directs traffic on the LAN, making sure that communication over the local network gets where the sender intended it to go. The modem is responsible for interfacing with the signal supplied by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), establishing a connection with the Internet. The wireless components include a transmitter and receiver to broadcast all communications on the LAN via radio waves, and listen for responses.

An ADSL wireless modem router.
An ADSL wireless modem router.

In order for the machines on the LAN to hear the router’s broadcast, they must each be fitted with a wireless network card that speaks the same language as the ADSL wireless modem router. The standards for wireless communications are always evolving, and fall under the 802.11 specification. A letter follows this number, indicating the protocol, such as 802.11n.

Acoustic couplers -- which send and receive computer data through telephone lines -- preceded modern modem technology.
Acoustic couplers -- which send and receive computer data through telephone lines -- preceded modern modem technology.

Wireless networking cards are installed in virtually all computers by the manufacturer, but older machines might have cards that support older standards. Even a new computer can support a previous standard when a new standard is still fairly young. The problem arises when a new router supports only the newest standard, while the machines to be used on the LAN have various types of wireless networking cards.

One solution is to get an ADSL wireless modem router that supports multiple wireless standards; both 802.11g and 802.11n, for example. By supporting the newest and also the previous standard, all machines are likely covered and no further equipment will be necessary. The alternate solution (if the router only supports one standard), is to purchase wireless network adapters for the computers that support the same standard as the router. In the case of a desktop, an internal wireless network card will work if you don’t mind opening your computer and installing it. Otherwise, a wireless network adapter can use the USB port of a desktop or laptop, and laptops can also use wireless network adapters made for the ExpressCard® slot.

Configuration for your ADSL wireless modem router can be accessed through a browser (you don’t need to be connected to the Internet). Here you can name your LAN, enable a password and encryption to keep the network safe from freeloaders and eavesdroppers, and set many other parameters as might be needed to connect to your ISP. The router will also come with a built-in firewall to keep unsolicited Internet traffic from flowing upstream into the LAN, and advanced users can set permissions for ports as needed for gaming and other applications.

An ADSL wireless modem router can broadcast up to 300 feet (91m) or more, depending on many factors including the wireless protocol being used, the hardware being employed, and the location of the router. Prices range widely according to features, but a quality model can be had for under $100 US Dollars (USD). If you plan to get ADSL2 service, an advanced flavor of ADSL, be sure the router supports ADSL2.

Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- On the other hand, you lose some flexibility if you go for a router that incorporates a modem. That ADSL connection may be ideal for you right now, but what happens if you find that digital cable or something else is better for you?

If you have a separate router and modem, you could simply use the new modem on the new type of connection and plug it into the router. If you have a combo router/modem unit, you will probably have to purchase a new router if you switch from one type of broadband connection to another.


The great thing about these is that you don't have to worry with two components. Traditionally, you had a modem and a separate router that allowed computers to share the broadband signal from the modem.

That meant two power supplies and more chances for things to go wrong as it was not uncommon for the router and the modem to stop talking to each other. Integrating everything into one package helps get rid of the communications problem. Always remember that fewer components men fewer headaches.

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    • An ADSL wireless modem router.
      By: Petr Malyshev
      An ADSL wireless modem router.
    • Acoustic couplers -- which send and receive computer data through telephone lines -- preceded modern modem technology.
      Acoustic couplers -- which send and receive computer data through telephone lines -- preceded modern modem technology.