Thanks for all the responses.
So...the wire coming in from the telephone company isn't feeding an
ethernet signal. I had wondered about that. DSL, even after the phone
line filters, is a different electrical configuration from ethernet. I
suppose I should look that up one day, but it just makes sense. Hence
the necessity for the cable modem, if only to convert the signal.
Interesting that the current FreeBSD version doesn't support 'recent'
wireless cards. That isn't my main goal at the current time but it does
give me pause. I've learned the hard way to take the path that offers
the most choices. On the other hand, there appear to be several miniPCI
prism boards still available out there.
If I have to dedicate one of my ethernet ports to an external AP then I
need another port. Then the WRAP board is no longer attractive. I like
the idea of a single box...well two including the cable modem. A rat's
nest of individual items...well I suppose that way individual components
can be replaced separately. Have to meditate on that for a while.