What is a wireless access point?

Wireless access points, also referred to as WAP or AP’s facilitate the connection of WI-FI devices to wired network, forming a WLAN.

Wireless local area networking provides a network communication using infrared and radio signals over short distances. You can build a WLAN on several wireless network protocols like Bluetooth and WI-FI. In other words, the access points become the main transmitter and receiver of wireless radio signals.

Conventional WLANS/ wireless access use Wi-FI and HOTSPOTS in homes and business networks respectfully to accommodate several wireless devices simultaneously.

FUN FACT: You can use AP’s on both stand alone and wired routers.

Network security is important for WLAN’s, whish is why wireless clients have an authentication process for identity verification to allow access. Wi-FI protected access is responsible for security on wireless networks

WLAN’s can connect to many devices including

  • Tablets, laptops and computers
  • Mobile phones
  • Gaming consoles
  • Internet audio systems
  • Home security systems
  • And other internet enabled devices

Router vs Access point -is there a difference?

A router serves to connect multiple devices to form a managed local area network and provides internet access to all devices connected. An access point on the other hand is a wireless network device that acts as a portal for all devices to connect to a local area network. They extend the coverage of an existing network and can increase the number of connected users.

Basically, the access point is sub device that works with an existing LAN (local area network) to provide a different location for multiple devices to connect while the router is a hub that set up a LAN and manages the connection to devices and communication.

A brief History of wireless access points

Wi-FI was the first ever form of wireless access points, introduced to the world in the 90’s. Proxim corp. was the first company to produce and release one of the first of these devices in 1994.

In the late 90’s, after the first Wi-FI commercial products started to appear on tv commercials, these devices went mainstream. Over the years, wireless access points have been renamed to access points to avoid confusion with wireless application protocol and also include wired access points.

Today, Wi-FI performance continues to grow and is one of the most used wireless communication technologies world-wide. Wireless access points have become an essential part of personal and professional lives, constantly improving communication, efficiency and tech. smart home virtual assistance like amazon Alexa and google home are currently some of the most widely used wireless access points used to connect to wireless devices such a mobile phone, printers, computers and such.

Wired vs wireless networks

Computer networks intended for mall businesses and home use can either use wireless or wired tech. Ethernet was once a popular choice for homes and businesses but today, Wi-Fi has become more prevalent in homes while many businesses are only no making the transition from wired to wireless.

The differences between wireless and wired access points.

Wired network
Wireless network
Very affordable but more hardware is required
A little bit pricier but definitely an investment. Very few accessories and hardware required.
All devices must be hard wired. Easy to configure, time consuming
Fast installation, two configuration options and more layout.
Wired networks cannot be hacked wirelessly. They do not support firewalls but can access firewall protection.
Wireless networks have a built-in firewall capability. Users can utilize encrypted protection.
Wired networks have a superior performance that can accommodate multiple users. Hubs can limit the speed on a wired network
Wireless networks contain less bandwidth and use of multiple devices decreases the speed. However, accessories could be used to improve the speed
Wired networks are and have been consistently reliable for decades. One major issue with wired networks is failed cables but that can be fixed
Wireless networks continue to improve in terms of reliability and functionality. Two major issues in wireless networks stem from interference and functionality.

Wireless points vs range extender

While Wi-Fi tech has improved greatly since its introduction in the 90’s, there are still major gaps in business Wi-FI’s. Typically, massive office spaces with heavy traffic use Wi-FI routers while smaller spaces use Wi-FI range extenders and routers.

Difference between access point and range extender

Access points are devices that create WLAN’s mostly in large buildings and office spaces. It connects a wired switch, router or hub through ethernet cable then projects the Wi-FI signal to a chosen area.

To enable Wi-FI access in a reception area, for example, and you do not have access to a router within range all you need to do is install an access point connected to an ethernet cable that travels back to the main server room.

From its name, a range extender works to lengthen reach to an existing Wi-FI network. The range extenders are placed near a strong Wi-FI signal to extend its reach.

FUN FACT: Range extenders connect wirelessly to Wi-FI routers.

Why access points are better

There is no denying that range extenders work exceptionally in-home Wi-FI networks but they do not stand a chance in modern businesses. Range extenders can only support limited devices simultaneously (20 at most) while they can increase the coverage of a Wi-FI router, they can’t change the available bandwidth of the wireless access point.

Access points are better because they can handle more than 60 simultaneous connections. Installing access points in office buildings allows employees to move room to room while using the network without facing any interruptions.

FUN FACT: When you move through a building with multiple access points, your wireless device will shift seamlessly from one access point to another without dropping the network connection.


Wireless wide area networks cover whole geographical regions and cities, spanning over multiple miles while wireless local area networks cover public hotspots and individual buildings. An example of a WWAN is cell network connections for mobile phones.

Know your wireless equipment – WIFI routers, access points, adapters and more

Differentiating between multiple wireless devices can be difficult for most people. Here is a simple breakdown of wireless devices and how they function;

Wireless routers and access points – This is the central system of any wireless network. They are used to build wireless networks in homes and office settings. Wireless routers support all computers configured with a wireless network adapter; they contain a switch to allow for wired connections through ethernet cables. They allow DSL and cable modem connections to be shared.

FUN FACT: The latest wireless routers is the 802.11ac, it delivers a smooth video streaming and is very responsive on online gaming.

Wireless access points – Also referred to as the WAP or AP, these allow for a connection between wireless clients and wired ethernet networks. They are common in large office buildings, used to create a single wireless local area network to span a large area.

FUN FACT: Most access points can support an average of 255 computer connections.

Wireless range extenders – As mentioned, range extenders work to lengthen an existing WLAN signal to overcome any obstacles and enhance the quality of the signal. They are also known as signal boosters and range expanders. Most wireless range extenders work within a very limited distance.

Wireless print services – They allow multiple printers to be shared across a Wi-FI network. This service must be connected to the printers through a network cable, usually USB 2.0/1.1.

Wireless game adapters – This connects video game consoles to home Wi-FI networks and enables online WLAN gaming. They are produced in both 802.11b and 802.11g varieties. You can connect the wireless game adapters over Wi-FI or to a wireless router through ethernet. The latter offers more performance and reliability while Wi-FI is for convenience and better reach.

Wireless network adapters – This device contains in built radio receiver and transmitter allowing computing devices to connect to WLAN. The three main forms for wireless networks adapters are the USB wireless adapters, PC card (PCMCIA) and the PCI wireless.

Wireless video cameras – They allow audio and video data to be captured then transmitted across a Wi-FI network. Basically, they serve up data streams to connected computers. They can be connected to a wireless router through an ethernet cable and Wi-FI. Most wireless video cameras contain an in-built web server and connect to the computers through a standard web browser or special client interface.

Everything You Need to Build a Wireless Network at home

You need the key hardware components of a wireless computer network to build a wireless network. These hardware components of a include;

Wireless network cards – Also referred to as wireless adapters or wireless NIC’s. You need one for every device on a wireless network. New computers, laptops, tablets as well as smartphones have an incorporated wireless capability that comes as an in-built system feature. Hardware is needed to increase the performance for network connection and accommodate more devices.

Wireless repeaters/ Range expander/ signal booster- You need this to expand the reach of your network.

Wireless routers and access points – Routers are the heart of any wireless networks and function like wired ethernet cables. The most current router is the 802.11ac make which is faster than its older counterparts. AC routers are faster than the 802.11 by far ad can handle multiple devices better. You can use this router for a wireless connection to your mart tv, streaming box, phone, computers tablets and other smart home devices.

Wireless antenna – Wireless routers and access points are only compatible with Wi-FI wireless antenna. Routers and access points can use Wi-FI enabled wireless antennae to increase the communication range of the radio signals.

Advantages for wireless access point

More user access – wireless access points are able to connect to over 6o users and more, which makes them convenient for office buildings

Broad transmission range – the signal transmission of a wireless router is limited to a few meters while wireless access points can cover up to 300 meters depending on the device. This is great for building where the number of users who need a large network coverage is large.

Flexible networking – in commercial settings, wireless networking comes in a variety of modes that can be managed in a centralized way allowing flexibility

Multiple ap connections – in most businesses, the coverage of a single access point might be limited. Thankfully, one can extend the coverage of the wireless network you can do multiple access point interconnections.