Difference between access point and router.

Wi-Fi networks are extremely densely entangled in cities, since they are wireless and therefore intangible. If we had so many cables next to us, we would have long been moving like in the wild jungle - along fiber-optic vines. To finally organize yourself a space free from wires, you will have to look into the nearest electronics store. And there - what a surprise! - on the showcase with network equipment, there is a huge number of devices that are identical in appearance, but different in price. Can you understand the difference between an access point and a router from these photos?

  1. Comparison
  2. Table
This is an access point

Of course, appearance is not a criterion for comparison, but functionality and the tasks of these two devices are different. Therefore, it is important not to be confused when purchasing equipment to create a network, especially since marketing significantly blurs the boundaries, and consultants prefer to simplify terminology to the limit.

The access point (Wireless Access Point, WAP) is an independent device that provides a wireless connection to a local network and the transfer of data packets in it.

Router is a device that organizes and manages a local network and its connection to the global network, configurable and having its own system resources.

This is a router

Wi-Fi routers installed in apartments and offices are equipped with built-in WAP-modules, so that wired, and wireless devices. Smartphones, tablets and laptops can also work in the access point mode, "distributing Wi-Fi" for other gadgets (organizing a new network).


Let's imagine that we need to provide wireless Internet access within the same apartment. The provider pulled the WAN cable and left us in the company of our gadgets. Installing an access point will be the simplest solution to the problem: we plug the cable into the LAN port, the power supply into the outlet - we get a wireless network within the radius of the number of meters specified in the characteristics of the device. However, you will have to configure the connection on the client (if it is required by the contract with the service provider). In fact, the access point acts only as a traffic translator, receiving packets over the cable and transmitting them over the air (or vice versa).

The difference between an access point and a router is that it offers a more profitable solution to the task (remember - wireless Internet within the walls of one apartment?). The WAN cable is connected to the port, the necessary data are indicated in the device settings, the provider sees one client with a MAC address - and all our gadgets can register in the local Wi-Fi network at the same time. In other words, the router receives access to the global network, and it also manages the data packets, sending them to the recipient (laptop, computer, tablet, smartphone, even TV). Any model supports NAT technology and has a DHCP server that distributes IP addresses within the network.

The main mode of operation of the router is the WAP mode, however, most models can be used as both a repeater (signal amplifier) ​​and a bridge (to connect two devices directly). Access points are also used to solve similar problems, but their functionality in the classical implementation is stingy, while the router is able to completely control the network created by it according to a given program. The user can configure a firewall, create a schedule for connecting and disconnecting clients, select frequency channels for wireless transmission, work with VPN using different protocols.

When choosing in a store, it is rather difficult to understand what is the difference between an access point and a router, since many models look almost identical. All Wi-Fi equipment has a built-in WAP module, so the definition of "access point with a router" is often found in catalogs. Classic WAP devices designed to provide a wireless connection to the network do not have additional ports for LAN connection, and sometimes they do not have external antennas:

The use of access points is justified where required creation of a network with a large radius, for example, in cafes, libraries, airports, in the territories of enterprises and settlements. With the help of these devices, a stable signal coverage is ensured, and the level of interference from supporting structures is reduced. To organize a network, a router is required, but it is expanded through WAP, which are also street-based.


Access point Router
Provides wireless connectivity to the networkNetworks and connects wireless, wired and global via NAT
Broadcasts trafficManages traffic
The IP addresses on the network must be manually configuredA DHCP server is enabled, distributing IP addresses to all connected devices
Minimum user settingsIt is possible to protect the local network, control client access, use VPN
No additional Ethernet ports for wired data transmissionA large number of connection interfaces
Used to extend the coverage of an existing networkUsed to create a network
Some models are designed for outdoor installationInstalled only indoors