In computing, an access point (AP) is a networking hardware device that acts as a communication hub for users of a wireless device to connect to a wireless LAN. It allows Wi-Fi devices to connect to a network (typically Ethernet) by connecting to a router as a standalone device and projects a Wi-Fi signal to a designated area. An AP is valuable for businesses that need to support many wireless internet users.
For example, if a company wants to enable Wi-Fi access for its reception area but doesn’t have a router within range, an AP can be installed near the front desk and an Ethernet cable can be run through the ceiling to the server room. APs can handle over 50 connections simultaneously, meaning users can move from space to space without network interruptions because their devices shift from one AP to the next without interfering with the connection.
Advantages of using an AP
- User access: While a wireless router can support 10-20 users at a time, a wireless AP allows 50 or more users access. It also has a better ability to send and receive signals.
- Transmission range: An AP’s signal transmission range can cover up to 300 meters, which is useful for businesses with large office spaces.
- Flexible networking: An AP has different networking modes to choose from to promote flexibility. Modes include Simplex AP, Wireless Client, Wireless Bridge, and Multi-point Bridge. It can be centrally managed with the cooperation of a wireless AP controller.
- Multi-access point interconnection: The coverage of a single AP may be too limited for an enterprise, so a multi-AP interconnection can be used to extend the coverage. Enterprises can design the wireless program according to the specific situation.
APs are less secure compared to wired networks. In addition, if multiple APs are used and they are incorrectly configured, overlapping channels may become a problem.