Router and access point - what is the difference between them? This is a frequent question of our customers, especially those who purchase equipment for home or office. We will try to answer it in this article. Strictly speaking, it is impossible to save a classic router and a classic access point. These devices have completely different purposes.
Strictly speaking, it is impossible to save a classic router and a classic access point. These devices have completely different purposes.
What is an access point?
An access point (AP) is simply a wireless "extension cable" for a wired network, which is most often used in two ways: It receives incoming Internet traffic via cable and distributes it wirelessly (access point / base station mode).
1. An example is a home access point for desktop or wall-mounted placement, which is most often confused with a Wi-Fi router:
2. An example is a home / office ceiling mount access point :
It can also be a powerful access point with an antenna, which is used by the provider to broadcast Internet traffic to subscribers via WiFi. Here is one, for example:
There is also a mode of operation of the access point, in which it receives and transmits traffic over a wireless connection - repeater or repeater mode. It is preferable to use other modes if possible, since with such a transfer, the speed drops significantly. In all these operating modes, the classic access point simply broadcasts traffic , without any operations with it. If several devices are connected to a WiFi point, then the bandwidth between them is divided equally, as in a simple switch. The wired interface at indoor access points is usually limited to one LAN port.
What is a router?
A router (router) is a more "smart" device that not only receives and transmits data, but also redistributes them according to various established rules and executes the given commands. He can: Route data packets (Internet traffic) between different networks and subnets; Assign IP addresses to computers and other devices that are connected to it; provide their network protection (firewall); limit the speed of traffic and much more - depending on the type and high cost of the model. Prior to the popularization of wireless technology, routers were released without WiFi support.
The classic router had only a wired interface and no one would have thought of comparing it to a WiFi access point. And now multi-port carrier-class models are available without a radio module: The confusion arose precisely when the routers equipped with WiFi transmitters, and, in fact, combined the functionality of the router and access points in them.
This has spawned many modifications. The most common question: "What is the difference between an access point and a router" arises in relation to access points for rooms and inexpensive wireless routers for the SOHO segment. They are not much different both externally and in cost.
From the foregoing, a few simple key differences can be deduced: An access point is just an access point. A WiFi router is a router + access point , two in one. The WiFi router in most cases is designed for indoor use. Access points are very different - for rooms and for the street, for connecting several clients and for connecting one, with a built-in antenna and with the need to buy an antenna separately. An internal access point most often has only one port for connecting a cable - for incoming traffic. A wireless router usually has several ports so that devices can be connected via a WiFi connection and using a network cable.
What is the difference between a WiFi router and an access point in practice?
Theory, of course, is good. But what exactly are the possibilities of buying a Wi-Fi router? Is it worth paying more for it (if it is more expensive)? As we discussed above, it makes no sense to talk about expensive carrier-grade routers. Compare solutions for home and office.
WiFi router Access point
By connecting the router first to the provider's cable and setting it up once, you do not have to configure separately each computer or laptop connected after it to the home / office network. The device located on the network after the access point will need to enter the provider settings.
after it to the home / office network. The device located on the network after the access point will need to enter the provider settings. You can easily organize a home network: the router acts as a dhcp server, distributes IP addresses within the network, you only need to connect the devices to the configured router - it will do the rest.
You will have to bother with the settings of your home network, including, possibly, getting additional IP addresses from the provider.
The router has the functionality of a firewall, built-in firewall, which means it provides improved network protection.
The access point does not have any protective functionality, except for simple traffic encryption.
If you need a high connection speed for some tasks - you can always connect the computer to the router using a network cable and get the maximum speed that the provider gives.
Most access points do not have a wired interface for transferring data to end devices, and the speed of a wireless connection is not suitable for all tasks.
For the operation of some highly specialized programs / interfaces, it may be necessary to configure port forwarding on the router, since the internal IP address of the devices is not available "outside" from the router subnet.
The access point transparently translates traffic, and for some highly specialized tasks, this is good. The IP address of the end device is accessible externally without additional settings.
In most cases, to distribute the Internet to several home devices - a computer, laptop, smartphone - it is better to purchase a WiFi router and connect the provider's cable to it. Especially if the router is inexpensive. For other purposes: receiving traffic from the provider wirelessly, organizing a seamless WiFi network in the office, HotSpot in a cafe or hotel - you need an access point. If you need advice, we will help you find a solution for each specific task.