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I see both terms used, and I was wondering what the difference is between a wifi router, and a wifi access point. Does the latter only create a LAN, with no way to connect the wifi box with a second network?

Thank you.

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Think of an access point as a wireless switch. – hyperslug Sep 17 '09 at 9:11
up vote 20 down vote accepted

Access Point is just a bridge between wired and wireless networks. It only operates in 1st and 2nd layer. It doesn't perform any 3rd-layer operations (routing, NAT-ing, IP filtering...)

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Thanks everyone. – OverTheRainbow Sep 23 '09 at 9:00

For the most part the two are used interchangeably, however, technically there is a difference and for the most part consumers only use WiFi Routers.

A WiFi router is a WiFi access point with a built in router. The router allows you to connect multiple computers to the network using a single IP address, typically provided by your ISP.

A WiFi access point is typically used only in enterprise networks where they have a larger router which routes their entire network and the access point only acts as a gateway between the wired and wireless networks.

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The access point acts as an ethernet switch, has one Ethernet port and allows WiFi stations to access the same LAN the access point is in.

The router will typically have 4 ethernet ports, 1 special ethernet port called "internet" and will allow creating a new subnet for the Wifi, with DHCP, acting as the default gateway for this subnet

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I would say that Access Point (AP) doesn't give you IP addresses. If you plug in to its WAN port, the IP address should be the same from it's 'upper' source (ISP, company's LAN, and hotel etc.). On the other hand, Router would provide you different IP segments. The IPs you've got, to your iPhone, iPad, or wireless devices, should be in different segment from the 'upper' source.

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A Wireless Access Point won't have a WAN port, since distinguishing between various networks would require it to be capable of routing. – Twisty May 27 '15 at 3:02

Well I Think Access Point is a Device from which we can distribute more Ethernet cable and give access trough wire and wireless. but WIFI devices only through Wireless Signals. there are no extra Ethernet ports to connect the device.


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