Two computers on one broadband line


Well-known member
I use two computers. One is a desktop (HP Pavilion) and the other a laptop (Compaq Presario 900). I have two separate BT lines, one of which supplies freeserve broadband to my desktop.

My friendly 'techie' contact at PC World came to see me the other day to increase the size of my RAM (not the woolly one with horns out in the field - that one's big enough!) I asked him how I could run two computers off one broadband line thus saving £27.99 if I were to switch the other BT line to broadband for the laptop.

He tried to fix both computers to run off the one broadband line via a wireless system but we found that Windows 98 on the desktop and Windows XP on the laptop flatly refused to communicate except to swear at each other. So, back to square one.

"BT Home Network" has just been launched. It is a method of connecting-up computers in the same home using one broadband line via a sophisticated attachment I believe to the existing phone line. In this way, all the members of the household with access to a computer can access the internet at the same time using the one broadband line. They offer a wireless facility too - at a price!!

There are two points I want to make for the benefit of traders, and prospective traders like me.

a) Be aware that if more than one computer is downloading data from the same broadband connection there will be a reduction in download speed for both. This is an important consideration for traders.

b) Before you invest in the necessary wireless gadgets, make sure that the two operating systems can communicate!

So what now? Well, I still think that for the investment of a further £27.99 per month I could subscribe to another broadband connection for the laptop. AOL are running a current promotion which includes free modem and connection. There is the added security too of subscribing to two different ISPs rather than placing all the web eggs in the Freeserve basket. If the Freeserve connection crashes, at least the AOL one can take over.

Any views anyone?

Hi Sean,

The PC world guy obviously didn't know what he was doing...

If you buy a ADSL wireless home gateway then such as an ActionTec one like mine then you can have as many PCs as you want given access to Broadband.

I would guess that the PC world guy might have tried to configure Internet Connection Sharing on one of the machines. ADSL doesn't always work well via this. This is well documented on various bulletin boards.

I'm an MCSE and I couldn't get it to work on my Home network with ADSL though it was fine with Dial Up Modems.

My advice is to buy an ADSL Home gateway with Wireless so you can use the Laptop anywhere in the house (within reason!)

I run a laptop (windows 2000) and a desktop (Windows XP) off a single broadband connection via a router which has an additional USB line that feeds into the laptop. While there may be a loss of 'speed' with both machines I haven't noticed. So save £27.99 a month and buy a router (mine cost £69) and works faultlessly. The only problem is neck ache turning my head either way!!!
As regards bandwith as long as you arn't running eDonkey, WinMX, BitTorrent etc whilst trading then you should have no problems whatsover.

Browing web sites has a relatively low bandwidth requirement so also shouldn't have any real impact in conjunction with trading.

Firstly you need a router about £100 then a few cat 5 patch leads to go from router to the network card/port on your pc's. With a router you can run up to 256 devices off one connection.
you still get the same amount of bandwidth coming into your house which is shared equally between computers and you will not notice the difference in download times assuming you have 512k broadband.
the operating systems do not matter, your isp will see the router not your computers. I run macs and PC's off the same connection.

this all works fine with ntl cable and should work with bt broadband. Go to ask for brochure they have both wireless and normal routers, cables etc.

Hope this makes sense
regards Pjannadr
Mully and Jonny T

Thank you for the information. I will certainly give these suggestions serious consideration.
Thank you.

Best wishes,

seancass - only just seen this thread. The above solutions proposed by others will all work fine and may be the best option for you.

However, just fyi, I share an ADSL connection across 2 PCs, one running WinXP Home and the other Win98 like you. The ADSL modem connects directly to the WinXP PC via a USB port. The 2 PCs are connected by network cards and a Cat 5 cross-over cable. I use Windows Internet Connection Sharing software - included with WinXP - to share the web access.

All very inexpensive since the network cards are about £10 each - you will need these for whatever solution you go for anyway - and the crossover cable £5.

The only disadvantages are this setup will only work for 2 PCs and the PC connecting to the ADSL modem must always be switched on for either PC to connect - pretty obvious really!

For full details on setting this up and other options available go here:
and read the sections on Network Topology, Internet Connection Sharing and Networking Computers.

Following this website's instructions, I had no problems whatsoever setting things up and everything has been working fine for almost a year now.

Paul and Rob,

Many thanks. Lots to think about and to examine.

Best wishes,
OK here's the definitive answer.
You'll spend the rest of your life trying to get wireless anything to work with Win XP and WIN98 . If you ever find out, let me know.....
The best solution is to buy an ADSL router that already has the modem built in. You can't use a USB modem. That will allow you to connect up to 4 PC's to it,via a LAN cable, and none is reliant on another being switched on as in Internet connection sharing solutions ( That MAY suit you however, as it does me, as my 2 pc's are always on together).
I use both as it happens. :) If you go the ICS route, make the WIN XP machine the "internet" master and slave the other machine off it. A combined router modem should cost NO more than £60. Bandwidth will only suffer if BOTH machines are downloading large files. For normal trading, it's not an issue at all. Final bonus, the router option will provide an automatic firewall. I have found setting up firewalls far from enjoyable and always another problem just around the corner.
Thank you Chartman. More very useful information.

I will devote some time to all this at the weekend when I can sit down and really get to grips with all that is being advised. Fantastic response, as always, from members when others seek advice.

Best wishes,

Try here:

Netgear and Draytek (more expensive) offer 4 port ADSL Routers with or without Wireless support.

ITchest also appear to guarantee a lowest UK price on these items. Not used them yet but intend to as I need shortly to upgrade to an ADSL Router as I need to connect more than 2 PCs in my home network to the web.

I have a nice Netgear wireless 4 port router/firewall/ADSL modem/kitchen sink.

Piece of piss to set up and works like a dream although was a bit picky at first with my XP Home computer.

(For some reason it killed my connection when I moved the machine so I had to re-install drivers and both times I have installed the drivers it crashed my machine a couple of times before becoming stable)

I'm using a Belkin broadband wireless router connected to my PC via a CAT5 cable and to my son's PC 15 metres away in another part of the house by wireless. Both using XP.

Rearrange the following words to describe operation and ease of set up "easy, very".

Stability 100%..(occasional resets once a month).
Speed? well my son downloads videos whilst I trade:problems.. Other than that: none.

Can connect 4 PCs by cable, *(?) by wireless..

No experience when I installed it. (but I recommend you keep to one supplier to avoid compatibility problems)