Wireless Access Point vs Router

Wireless Access Point vs Router – What’s the Difference?

When you compare a wireless AP to a router, you’ll notice a few key differences.

While both devices can connect to a WiFi network and perform similar functions, they are more like cousins as opposed to twins.

For a fresh WiFi setup, the decision between a wireless AP and a router is influenced by several aspects, including the network’s physical size, the organization’s demands, and the overall number of WiFi users.

Multiple APs, in general, can better suit the needs of large businesses and organizations better.

Residential homes and small businesses, on the other hand, benefit from wireless routers since they combine the capabilities of two wireless gadgets, an Ethernet WiFi router and a standalone AP in a single appliance.

It’s worth mentioning that while a router can be considered an AP, a wireless AP can never be a router.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a wireless AP and a router, as well as how to choose between the two based on your specific wireless coverage needs.

What is A Wireless AP?

Wireless Access Point Vs Router
Wireless Access Point Vs Router – What is A Wireless AP

An independent wireless AP (access point) is a physical device that offers WiFi functionality to an established wired network by bridging traffic from a bunch of wireless workstations onto an adjacent wired LAN.

An AP is similar to a LAN hub, except that instead of relaying LAN frames solely to other 802.3 stations, it broadcasts 802.11 frames to all other 802.11 or 802.3 terminals in the same subnet.

The vast majority of companies and organizations require multiple access points. Several APs deployed throughout a network allow WiFi to keep up with demand across vast physical space and a massive number of end-user-connected devices. 

Each extra AP expands the network’s availability and coverage by providing another place for consumers to connect.

Wireless networks can be boosted by strategically placing APs across a workplace to service dead spots or regions with poor WiFi signals.

What Is a WiFi Router?

Wireless Access Point Vs Router
Wireless Access Point Vs Router – What Is a WiFi Router

A wireless router is a dual-purpose device. It combines the features of a wireless access point (AP), which connects a group of wireless stations to a nearby wired network, with those of a router, which transmits IP packets between the wireless subnet and any other subnet.

In other words, it can connect end-user clients to the LAN and serve as a LAN-to-internet gateway.

As a result, in a network with many isolated APs, a separate router is required to operate as a gateway between the LAN and the internet.

Wireless Access Point Vs Router: Differences

Application

Wireless Access Point Vs Router
Wireless Access Point Vs Router

Wireless routers are typically used in domestic residences, small businesses, and SOHO workplaces. Fortunately, they can easily handle fixed and moderate connectivity demands.

When it comes to wireless APs, they’re most commonly seen in medium to large businesses and organizations, where several APs are deployed to serve numerous users.

In contrast to the previous instance, network pros may install more APs as demand grows, allowing them to cover a larger physical space.

Connection and Coverage

Wireless Access Point Vs Router
Wireless Access Point Vs Router – Connection and Coverage

In contrast to the previous instance, network pros may install more APs as demand grows, allowing them to cover a larger physical space.

The connectivity mechanisms of routers and wireless APs are different.

Typically, a wireless router can either provide direct WiFi signals to devices or link to a PoE switch that can integrate wireless APs to expand WiFi coverage.

In comparison to wireless routers, some home wireless APs without routing features cannot connect to a gateway or modem, mandating the need for a WiFi router as an intermediary.

If the wireless router can’t cover the desired area, it could be that the WiFi signals are weak or hit some dead spots. 

Instead, a wireless AP can be installed in regions with poor network conditions to eliminate dead spots and extend the WiFI network.

To enhance the wireless signal coverage in SMB networks, enterprise wireless APs must be linked to a PoE switch and then to the gateway.

Function

Wireless Access Point vs Router
Wireless Access Point vs Router – Function

A wireless router, acting as an ‘Ethernet hub,’ helps with the establishment of a local area network by connecting and controlling all of the devices linked to it.

On the other hand, an access point is a local area network sub-device that only allows access to the router’s established network.

As a result, if you’re a network administrator, you can tweak the network’s settings with a wireless router, but not with a wireless AP.

Final Thought

So should you go for a wireless AP or a router? Well, it all depends on your needs.

If you want to have WiFi at home to cover your family’s needs, a router is more than enough. However, if you want to build a network to cover many users, you need several wireless APs.

See Also

Best Router for Large House

Wifi Router for Cars

How to Access Router From the Internet

Best Mesh Wifi System

Best Modem Router Combo

Best Router for Multiple Devices

How to Clear Browsing History From Router

How to Check Browsing History on Wifi Router

What Does WPS Mean on a Wifi Router

Best Parental Control Routers

Wifi Security Protocols