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PCI Wireless network cards

I am somewhat new to home networking. I am simply trying to connect my PC directly to a free WiFi service that is now active in much of Philadelphia Pa. (see here --> http://wirelessphiladelphia.org/ You don't even need an account. My brother connects with his laptop and I know others that connect direct from a hand held.

So, I figure all I have to do it put any old PCI wireless g adapter into my desktop, and purchased 2 used AT&T Plug&Share 6500g adapters with the software disk. After the install I see as many as 7 different networks, but none of them is a name brand service. Some are just a bunch of numbers, some have, what I assume to be, user assigned names to thier network (such as Home WiFi, or belkin 54g) I don't see anything saying Philadelphia Wireless, or AT&t or any others like that. Some are secured and one or 2 are not. I think I am connecting thru someone elses router that they did not secure.

My question then. Is it possible this card only connects to a particular service, such as AT&T? My computer does sit low under a wood table near the floor with a 5" (maybe) antenna connected directly to card. Also, the card was manufactured in 2003. Any issues there?

The service map for Philadelphia Wireless clearly shows my address well in the service area. There is no support for this service yet and I can't find any help from AT&T/Cingular.

My system is a home assembled K7S5A with an AMD xp 2000+ running Windows XP.

Thanks for reading,

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Maybe I'm reading something incorrectly here

In reply to: PCI Wireless network cards

but it appears this was once a service from Earthlink that they abandoned but has been taken over by another operation. Part of your link refers to configuring range boosters that appear to also have come from Earthlink but don't have to be returned. It also mentions the service is free to anyone who can connect to it. This doesn't mean it's possible to connect. It does not sound as if this is true plug and play. You said your brother can connect. Can you get him to bring his rig to your place or can you take yours to his place? WiFi signals from individual access points don't travel for great distances and are easily blocked by physical barriers. Such is why range extenders or outside antennas might be necessary to capture these. Good luck.

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In reply to: Maybe I'm reading something incorrectly here

Several good points Steven. They actually called them "signal boosters". My brain translated that into "speed booster". Why? Well, originally, a major condition to awarding the contract to any provider was they had to provide for low - income households the ability to connect to high - speed connections, at a reduced price about ($10 bucks). Earthlink thought they were going get many thousands of sign - ups at $21 but only got a few. So, they bailed. I guess I was thinking the booster was for speed to those who would pay the $21 bill. But, I'm sure I never read it.

It's possible he lives close to a transmitter while I might be in a signal challenged area. And, maybe I'm connecting through someone who has Verizon or Comcast (cable).

I will see if my brother will allow me to borrow his laptop.

Thanks you Steven.

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