OK, time for a little Internet 101 here.
Both DSL and Cable Modem service assign a single IP address to whatever device is connected to the line coming in off the street. The IP address is the fundamental unit of addressing in computer networking. Think of it as your "phone number" when you are attached to the internet. There are two ways of having an IP address assigned to your computer, Static or Dynamic.
If an address is assigned via the static method, it means that you are given a specific number to key into the configuration of your network connection. This is seldom used any more. This address stays the same until you change it.
A dynamic address is a address that is assigned to your computer when it connects to the network. It can change every time you connect, although it does not have to. The address is assigned for a limited period of time. It is called leasing in the industry. This method is the most commonly used method.
Now when you are connected directly by DSL or Cable to your Internet Service Provider (ISP
), you can be assigned an address either way. If you want to put multiple computers on the connection, you would then connect a router to the ISP
-side connection. Think of the router as having a ISP
side, and a "house" side. The house side is the side that you connect the computer(s) in your house to. The ISP
side of he router is the side that connects your DSL or Cable modem .
Wires From Street<--->DSL or Cable Modem<-->router<-->computer
The router is given the IP address your provider assigns to you. The router will then dynamically (on its own) assign IP addresses to each of the computers on your network in your house. Some routers today come with a hub or switch (splitter type technology for networks) built in, in other cases you will have the hub or switch connected to the house side of you router. The router will use only one IP address when communicating with the Internet, and then will coordinate sending the correct information to the correct computers inside your house.
The speed of your connection to the internet is measured as it enters and leaves your house. If you have a 1 megabit connection, that connection is shared across the number of computers you have in your house. You do not get more speed (bandwidth) because you have more computers. The bottom line is that most ISP
's don't really care if you have 1 or 100 computers on the house side of your connection, all the computers will share whatever bandwidth you paying for.
I started out with one computer on my connection when I got it three years ago. I am now up to five. For most "surfing", the sharing is not really an issue. However, if one or more of the computers on the network are uploading or downloading large files, all of the other computers will suffer from slow response times.
Words of caution; Do not think that putting a router in front of your PC
's protects you from hacking. Some of the newer tools that are available allow hackers to get past the router. There are also methods of using Instant Messagener to gain access to your computer. A router plus firewall software is the best protection you can get, along with good virus software There are a number of providers out there. The most well known commercial products out there are Norton AntiVirus and Norton Personal Firewall. There are others. Even if you only have one computer, it is worth your while to put in a router along with the protection software. If you value your computer AND
your data, it can be the best investment you can make.