Difference betweeen access point and router?


What is the difference between an access point and a router?


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A wireless router consists of: wireless access point (the radio) ethernet router (does NAT, DHCP, etc) 4 port ethernet switch (for plugging in your wired devices)

An access point has only the wireless access point (radio) portion.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

For home use, none. If you want an access point, a wireless router will be fine so long as you can spare 5 minutes to configure it as such. It will be cheaper than anything sold as an access point, too.

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I'd say it typically has one Ethernet port intended to be connected upstream (WAN port) and may have one or more for downstream (LAN) devices. The Apple AirPort Express (all models) and the original grey Apple AirPort, which are both wireless routers (they meet the first two criteria) and has only a single Ethernet port. The other Apple wireless routers (all of them) have one port usually used for WAN traffic and one or three ports used for LAN traffic.


Reply to
Steve Fenwick

Thanks for the information.

Best wishes

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I bought a Linksys A-B/G wireless router earlier this year. Since it is cascaded from my main wired router I plugged the cable from the wired router to the first switch port on the Linksys. I also disabled the DHCP server in the Linksys as the wired router takes care of DHCP. I enabled WPA2 and away I went and the laptop is just another device on my LAN plus I still have three wired switch ports available (the wired router is full). So I have an AP along with a cascaded switch using the Linksys in this manner.

- Nate >>

Reply to
Nate Bargmann

Routers route between networks, access points provide access to a network is a short answer.

Any answer is going to be somewhat ambiguous because manufacturers will integrate different features on the equipment to enhance functionality.

A router can act as a network gateway/firewall with NAT enabled.

If NAT is disabled, it acts like an ordinary router with no firewall. Some functions will not be available.

In either mode, the router will route traffic between other networks.

A router can act as a DHCP server, traffic filter, provide QOS, wireless, port mapping, UPNP, IPSEC tunneling, PPTP server, etc.

A wireless router CANNOT associate with another wireless router using wireless to create a connection between the two. Access points CAN.

An Access Point is used to connect wireless clients to a LAN or VLAN(S). They don't route, but they can bridge. You really don't want to bridge large networks, but it works really well for smaller networks/subnets in areas where it is impractical to lay wire or fibre.

Simple AP's usually provide DHCP, wireless security, and they can associate with another AP to form a bridge over wireless. With the right antenna setup, an ordinary AP can provide a reliable "wire speed" wireless bridge connection between two locations over a mile apart or more. Advanced AP's can also serve as trunks for VLANS and support Power Over Ethernet (POE).

You can have multiple AP's in the same network to enhance coverage.

Using tips off various WI-FI sites, and some modified DirecTV dishes, I have successfully bridged ordinary Linksys AP's over 5 miles with reliable 54 Mbps connections. Line of sight is important over distance...

Reply to
Gandalf Grey

My Speedtouch 780WL can do WDS, and it's definitely sold as a router. Like you say any answer is going to be ambiguous; an alternative answer to the OPs question could be that the difference between router and AP is whatever the manufacturer decides the difference is.

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