This question keeps coming back, so it’s time for its own page!
If you look on the back of a network connection device (DSL modem, satellite receiver, etc.) that has a USB LAN connection, you’ll see a connector that looks like the one below.
USB “Type B” connector
This type of connector is sometimes referred to as a USB “downstream” connector and is used to connect a USB cable to a USB device.
On the back of your computer, you’ll find the other type of USB connector, the “Type A” connector, also shown below.
USB “Type A” connector
This type of connector is sometimes referred to as a USB “upstream” connector and is used to connect a USB cable to a non-USB device, such as a computer.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell:
If you look at the WAN connector on any hardware router, you won’t see a Type A port.
Some devices, such as the Linksys BEFSRU31 have a Type B port on the LAN side of the router, which doesn’t help you since the connector is both the wrong type and on the wrong side of the router.
“Ok”, you say, “I’ll just use a USB-to-Ethernet adapter to convert the network device’s USB port to an Ethernet port.” But when you open the adapter’s box, you’ll find that the connector on the end of the adapter’s cable that’s looking for a place to be plugged into is… you guessed it… a Type A connector, which makes sense, since these adapters are intended to convert a computer’s (Type A) USB port into an Ethernet port.
“That won’t stop me!”, you vow. “I’ll just get/make a Type B to Type B cable, or buy some gender changers.” Aside from the fact that using these non-standard cables to connect the wrong things together can result in damage to the equipment you’re trying to connect, the connection won’t work (see the allUSB Cable Guide for more info, or Questions 7 & 8 of USB.org’s FAQ).
So, once again, your only alternatives for sharing a network connection device that has a USB LAN connection are:
Get a router with a USB Host interface. The only one known as of January 2002 is the Draytek Vigor 2200USB DSL Router with built in 4-port Ethernet switch. It’s now available in the United States from Best Systems Direct. Check out our review.
Use your PC (or Mac) and a software sharing application to share the connection.
Replace the DSL modem with a combination modem/router if your broadband service provider allows it.
BE CAREFUL if you choose this option. There are a number of flavors of DSL in use, so be sure to get a product that matches the type of DSL that your BSP provides!