Enterprise Network

Wireless AP vs. Router: Make the Right Choice

Wireless access points (WAP or AP) and routers are often thought of as the same thing. In fact, a wireless access point is similar to a router but there are some differences. Technically, any router with Wi-Fi onboard can be called a wireless access point, but that’s not their only definition. For example, a router can be an access point, but an access point can’t be a router. This post will cover both wireless AP and router, explaining each of their roles and advanced features. Then you can decide which one is best suited for your wireless network.

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What Is A Wireless Access Point(AP)?

An access point is a networking hardware appliance that can be used as either an independent device or a component of a router. A WAP performs two major functions in a network. First, it enables devices that don’t have inbuilt Wi-Fi connection to access a wireless network. Once you connect a WAP to a router (that don’t have an inbuilt WI-FI ability) with an Ethernet cable, it becomes a wireless device which will connect to your network. Secondly, WAP is used as a wireless range extender, increasing the coverage of your existing WI-FI network. If you connect your router to a wireless access point through an Ethernet cable, you will be able to increase the area of your Wi-Fi access.

What Is A Router?

A router acts as a gateway in a computer network by connecting various devices wirelessly. A wireless router is a basic router with an added feature on an inbuilt access point. It allows a wireless communication and sharing of data amongst devices and computers that are connected to a particular network. The wireless router achieves this by allocating IP addresses to the computers and devices. Additionally, a router helps these computers that are within the wireless network to share devices such as scanners and printers wirelessly.

Wireless AP vs. Router: What’s the Difference?
Appearance

Almost anyone who has an internet connection has a router nowadays. So I guess everyone is quite familiar with it. The commonly used router usually has antennas ranging from 1 to 4. And it has four more wired network ports compare to a wireless AP, except one WAN port for connecting upper network equipment, and the rest four LAN ports for connecting a computer with a wired network card in an intranet. Additionally, it has more indicators than wireless AP.

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A simple wireless access point usually has a wired RJ45 network port, power interface, configuration port (USB port or through the web interface configuration) and several status indicators. Apart from the common configuration, a wireless access point can be designed into different types:

Ceiling-mount Wireless AP

Wall-mount Wireless AP

Outdoor Wireless AP

Application

A wireless AP is widely used in large enterprises, because large companies need a large number of wireless access node to achieve a large network coverage. And all access terminal belong to the same network, which is convenient for the company network administrator to realize network control and management.

A wireless router is generally used in homes and SOHO environments where the coverage is narrow and users account for a small part. Under such kind of circumstances, only one wireless AP is enough.

Connection Mode

A wireless AP can’t be connected to ADSLMODE, unless a switch or hub or router is used as a medium. While the wireless router is endowed with broadband dial-up function, you can directly connect to the ADSLMODEM and achieve dial-up Internet access.

Function

The function of wireless AP is to convert a wired network into a wireless network. To put it simply, wireless AP serves as a bridge between wireless networks and wired networks. Its signal range is spherical, so it is better to be placed in a higher point, which can increase network coverage. Wireless AP is a wireless switch, which is connected to a wired switch or router, and the wireless terminal and the original network belong to the same subnet.

A wireless router is a wireless AP with routing function, which is connected to ADSL broadband lines. Through the router function, an independent wireless home networking is built.

Wireless AP vs. Router: Which One should I Buy?

Typically, wireless routers are used in residential and small businesses, where all users can be supported by one combined AP and router. Wireless APs are used in larger businesses and venues, where many APs are required to provide service, for example, to cover a bigger area or to support thousands of users. In larger WLANs, it usually makes sense to have several APs feeding into a single, separate router.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you want to build more reliable wireless network, you may need a wireless access point. If you just want a wireless network at home to cover only several people, the wireless router is enough. If you are looking for a good wireless AP supplier, FS. COM is a good choice. FS.COM provides several wireless access points with high performance to support resilient wireless access services for use in enterprise offices, schools, hospitals, hotels and more.

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