What’s the difference between a router and a wireless access point?

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What’s the difference between a router and a wireless access point?

In: Technology

Nothing really. I guess a router is what you have in your house. A wireless access point is usually what they call the routers that cable companies own in public places that you can use.

Lots really. A wireless access point only connects devices wirelessly. It does generally not have a firewall or the ability to control traffic etc. A router is what connects a wifi network to the internet so it has a lot of functionality built in to protect the internal network from the internet. It also routes all the traffic between your house / office and the internet including hiding your internal IP range through a process called NAT (Network Address Translation). A router will be more expensive and this is due to the added functions.

A wireless access point is a hub of a Wi-Fi network. It allows Wi-Fi capable machines to connect to that network.
A router connects multiple networks together and routes messages between networks. For instance, it allows users on the Wi-Fi network to send messages to an ISP and out onto the wider Internet.

Consumer networks are generally very simply laid out, so consumer APs generally combine both in one device. Commercial or institutional networks will more often benefit from separating them. For instance, if you have to have a large office space connected by Wi-Fi, you’ll likely have multiple access points connected by wire to a single router.

A router is a generic term for a device that directs network traffic between networks. A home router has an internal network with physical and wireless connections on one side, and an ISP network on the other side. It then routes messages between the networks.

A wireless access point converts a physical connection to a wireless connection. Some home wireless access points can have router like features which can muddy the waters a little.