Does anyone know if there is an operational difference between what is classified as an 'indoor' wifi access point and an 'outdoor' wifi access point. I'm speaking specifically to its operation rather than things like whether its enclosure is weather proof or not. And I'm also referring to the access point itself as opposed to the antenna used.
There's no operational difference between them.
That's like asking about the difference between indoor and outdoor laptops -- sure, one screen may be brighter or one's case might be weather-resistant, but inside they both work the same way.
Yes, good outdoor APs often have several functional differences vs. indoor APs, besides enclosure and antenna. Although some fancy indoor APs may have many of these features, outdoor APs are much more likely to have the following features:
- Higher power built-in power amplifiers in their radios.
- Support for WDS.
- Support for proprietary wireless bridging protocols that use frame aggregation schemes to make more efficient use of long range wireless point-to-point links.
- More access to low-level radio tweaks, like tweaking the ACK timeout to adjust for the longer round-trip times of long-range links.
- Support for mesh schemes.
- Support for the 4.9GHz band, for licensed, often "public safety", applications.
- Support for Power over Ethernet so you don't have to run AC up the pole.
Just range really, 802.11abgn is really independent of WHERE the box is.
There is no real difference.
The only difference that i can see, potentially, is with the strength of the devices that they're marketing as indoor or outdoor.
Also, there are options for directional signals (through parabolic antenna and whatnot) which would not really be wanted with indoor APs which they may use to tag it as an "outdoor" access point.