Though every laptop PC is different, virtually any of these is equipped with either a wireless network adapter or a network interface card, and sometimes both. These devices allow a laptop to access broadband Internet service through either a Wi-Fi hub or a wired router connection.
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.