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In order to use Xbox live you have to have an internet connection. The live is for the internet. You can hook up with an Ethernt cable or you can connect through a router. Without an internet connection Live will not work and you will be limited to playing the games on the Xbox without being able to play with others unless they are in the room with you.
Thank-you for the positive feedback. My son is a gamer and uses Live to relax after work or school. He has live. The good thing is that your card will run from the time it is activated for a year. You will enjoy it once hooked up to the internet where you can play online which is what X box Live allows you to do. Joan