USB Wi-Fi Adapter: An Option for Online Access

Posted by: CK Luther on Friday, May 24th, 2013

54Mbps Wifi 802.11 bg Wireless LAN Network USB 2.0 AdapterAt home, in a hotel, or at a public Wi-Fi hotspot, a USB Wi-Fi adapter lets you access the Internet without the need to attach your laptop to Ethernet cables. For laptop owners who don’t have built-in wireless modems, these adapters provide a cheaper alternative than a major system upgrade. Even if your laptop is wireless-ready, a USB Wi-Fi adapter comes in handy as a backup in case of problems with your installed equipment.

Wireless Access

One advantage of using a portable device, such as a laptop, is the ability to access the Internet on the go, including free locations available to the public. You can’t use cables to connect your laptop or tablet to free Wi-Fi at libraries, on trains, or in grocery stores and coffee shops. These complimentary signals are always wireless, which means your device must be capable of receiving a Wi-Fi signal. Paid wireless services for home users and travelers also assume that your device has a modem or a USB Wi-Fi adapter, even when you receive your signal through a hotspot.


An adapter is often an option for faster speeds and a better signal than the one in your machine. Each USB Wi-Fi adapter has a speed rating that indicates its maximum data transfer speeds. The transfer speed ratings for an adapter with a wireless b rating are the slowest, at up to 11 megabits per second (Mbps).

An adapter with a g rating provides a maximum speed of 54 Mbps, while wireless n adapters provide high-speed data transfers, up to 600 Mbps. Wireless b and g adapters use the 2.4-Ghz communications bandwidth, but wireless b and g devices are more prone to signal interference from consumer electronics, such as microwaves and ham radios. Wireless g USB Wi-Fi adapters use 2.4 Ghz and the 5-Ghz bandwidth.


The main job of a USB Wi-Fi adapter is to pass a wireless signal to your computer. To work properly, an adapter requires that you install software that helps your equipment understand the adapter’s requests. Depending on the manufacturer and the adapter, you install software and drivers for it from a disk or by downloading them onto your system from the device or a website. Make sure your system meets the speed, hardware, and processor requirements for the adapter before you make your purchase. Often, to finish your installation and setup, you need access to a wireless signal from a router, hotspot, or other source.

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