Selecting Wireless Access Points
Wireless access points are available in different styles, multiple functions, and for a variety of devices. Access points work in combination with your devices to give them the best wireless network speeds and connections. For instance, computers and gaming systems use wireless network adapters and cards to connect to LANs, but benefit from the faster speeds that Wi-Fi access points create.
What Are Wireless Access Points?
Wireless access points (WAPs) allow Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled devices to connect to local area networks (LANs). WAPs come in three main forms: embedded nodes, cards and adapters, and stand-alone hardware. WAPs are also available with built-in wireless bridges, so users can switch bridging capabilities on or off as needed. Bridges allow you to connect your wireless network to any device attached to the bridge. While wireless bridges and WAPs are similar, WAPs create usable wireless signals from wired LANs and bridges only connect separate networks.
What's the Difference Between a WAP and a Router?
Routers once required separate access point hardware to support wireless connections. A wireless router has Wi-Fi access point technology built into the device, which allows a wireless connection to your LAN. A Wi-Fi router performs AP functions, but a WAP alone doesn't have the capability to transmit data packages to LANs or wide-area networks (WANs), so it can't function like a wireless router.
Options for Wi-Fi Access Point Hardware
Wi-Fi access points are available in indoor and outdoor, standard and dual band, and in several shapes and sizes. Outdoor wireless access points stand up to the harshest weather conditions and have strong antennas that offer gigabyte speeds at various distances. The reach of WAP signals depends on the device you choose. In general, a dual-band access point offers farther coverage than single-band. Another option for boosting wireless signals is a wireless range extender which creates a separate SSID to expand a wireless router's signal coverage.