Wireless access point is a configured node or hardware device working on a local area network that allows wired networks and wireless capable devices to connect through a wireless standard. This often incudes Bluetooth and WI-FI.
In simpler terms, Wireless access points (WAPs of Aps) allow WI-FI enabled devices to connect to a wired network. They form (WLANs) wireless local area networks.
An access point is the central receiver and transmitter of the wireless radio signals. the basic/mainstream wireless access points are WI-FI enabled and convenient for homes, business networks, public internet hotspots. They are used to accommodate a number of wireless mobile devices.
Some Wireless access points also feature an antennae and radio transmitter that work to facilitate the connection between the network or internet and also devices. The access point is incorporated into a stand alone or wires router.
NB; A wireless access point is also called hotspot
More about the WAP
Wireless access points can be used to provide a network connectivity in places like office environments. This allows the employees to work anywhere around the office while still remaining connected to the network.
They are also used to provide wireless internet access to the public in places like train stations, coffee shops, airport and more.
The wireless access points are most commonly known for the contest in the 802 series of wireless standards. To simply put it, WI-FI. Note that this is not the only available form of wireless standards. While there are other available standards, people are more aware of the WAP and WI-FI hotspot.
What the WAP is used for
The stand-alone access points are averagely small devices that very closely look like home broadband routers. The wireless routers that are used for home networking have hardware build access homes that work with stand alone AP units.
How does this work? When you use a device to go online, it has to go through a hardware/built in access point to access the internet without having to connect a cable.
There are plenty of mainstream vendors of Wi-Fi consumer products who manufacture access points. This allows businesses to allow wireless connectivity because they can run ethernet cables from the access point to a wired router.
The WAP/AP hardware is made up of antennas, device firmware and radio transceivers. Wi-fi hotspots deploy more than one AP to support the coverage in an area. Businesses install the AP’s throughout the work area to ensure a wide range. It works different for homes. Most homes need only one wireless router and a boil access point to cover the space.
Deciding on the best/optimal location of the access point to be installed can be a challenging task covering the spaces at work with an even/reliable signal for everyone is not easy.
A brief history of wireless access points
It is not obvious to many, but the first access points pre-dates the WI-FI. A close relative company to Proxim wireless, known as Proxim CORPORATION is known to have produces one of the first of such devices, it was produced in 1994, and named RangleLAN2.
Access points went mainstream in the late 90’s when the first WI-FI commercial products started to appear on TV.
At first, they were referred to as WAP devices but later, the industry started using AP instead of WAP to refer to them. This was done majorly to avoid any confusion between the wireless application protocols.
Wireless access networks have evolved majorly over the past couple of years. They have become the rage when it comes to smart home virtual assistance and other uses. Products like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and others advanced smart networks come in wireless network devices like printers, computers, phones and others.
The WI-FI enabled access points make life easier with the enables voice activation, interaction with internet and help you control home devices like electrical appliances, the tv, thermostats, lights and more.
Here are the main differences between wired and wireless networks
The installation is fast
Two configuration options with more layout options
The devices must be hard wired but it is a time-consuming process
Easy to configure
Wireless networks are pricy but an investment. Few accessories needed.
Although it is less expensive, more hardware is required
Has multifunctionality but that could mean less reliability. The reliability is subject to improvement as more advanced wireless networks are being developed. The main issue is with the interphase
Wired networks have been used for decades and show a consistence reliability. Failed cables are a major issue.
Accessories help improve the speed when multiple devices are connected
Has superior performance and is convenient for a given number of users.
Most have built in wireless capability, and have an encryption protection to prevent hacking.
The networks do not support firewalls but can use the protection. Cannot be hacked wirelessly
Network Routers, Access Points, Adapters
Being able to tell apart various wireless devices can be difficult, well unless you have set up several wireless networks or you are an IT specialist.
I am here to break it down for you and make it clear what each of these devices actually do
The wireless router – this is the central product for most home computer networks. Wireless routers support home computers configured with the wireless network adapter. You can also connect your computer with an ethernet cable which is possible because of the network switch. They allow you to share cable DSL internet and cable modem connections.
Wireless access points – like I said before, they serve as a bridge between the wired ethernet and wireless clients. It can connect to another access point and wired ethernet router. A business-friendly access point can connect to up to 255 computer clients. In home networking, it can be used t extend the existing home network as long as it is on a wired
Wireless network adapters – They contain a built-in receiver and transmitter. This allows for computing devices to join the LAN. Wireless network adapters exist in several forms; the traditional PCI wireless adapters and USB wireless adapters and the PC card wireless adapters.
Wireless printer services – allows printers to be shared across a network (WI-FI). You can add a printer service to a network so it can e located within the wireless network range. This removed the need of a computer to manage all print jobs or be turned on when you need to print.
Wireless game adapters – They connect video game consoled to a home wi-Fi network. this enables head to head LAN and internet gaming. You can get wireless gamer adapters in both 802.11g and 802.11b varieties. You can connect them to wireless routers using ethernet cables for performance and reliability or over WIFI for convenience.
Wireless internet video cameras – this allows video and audio data to be collected and transmitted across a chosen WIFI network. They work by serving up the data streams to the computer connected. The computers are connected to the camera using a standard web browser or special client user interface.
Some features that differentiate internet video cameras include
- Time stamping capability
- Built in microphones
- The WIFI security support
- Motion sensors
Wireless range extender – the work of the wireless range extender is simply to increase the distance of over which your WLAN signal can spread. It works by overcoming the obstacles and therefore enhancing the overall network signal quality. It works as a relay by picking up and reflecting the WIFI signals from an access point.
Why access points are better for business
Range extenders are great for home networks but might not be efficient for the modern businesses. Range extenders can only support a number of limited devices, mostly not more than 20. Range extenders can increase the coverage of a router but cannot increase its available bandwidth.
It could end up weighing down the connection. Access points can handle more than 60 simultaneous connection, making them ultimately convenient. Installing access points throughout the office allows for connection and minimizes network interruptions because the connections are not dropped.
Advantages of using wireless access points
When you guests and employees are connected to the same network through their mobile phones, laptops, desktops and tablets, the number could easily add up to more than 60. Access points allow for multiple simultaneous connections.
You can install business grade access points anywhere as long as it is possible to run an ethernet cable. New wireless access point models allow connection with Power over Ethernet plus (power cord plus ethernet)
You can limit the guest access and manage the users within the WI-FI network without having to compromise the network security.
Some access points have a clustering feature that allows you to deploy, view, configure or even add a secure WIFI network as a stand-alone entity instead of separate access point configurations.
Wireless vs wired networking
Ethernet (wired network) was a basic choice for businesses and home but today, WIFI and other major wireless options are prevalent for home. While both methods have advantages over each other, they represent a viable option for local area networks and home.