Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Access Point and Extender

The proliferation of the Internet and the increasing use of mobile wireless devices have presented businesses with many opportunities and challenges – most probably, the challenge of how to make best use of new mobile wireless technologies. The growth of the WLAN technology and wireless devices have made everything go mobile so that you can work remotely from anywhere in the network without even physically present at the location – at home or onsite. This eventually led to the rise of wireless networking devices like extenders and access points. Wireless Access Points (APs for short) give you the freedom to move freely while staying connected to your network.

However, the term access point is often confused with extenders (sometimes known as boosters). This is partly because of the fact that some of the wireless networking devices can serve different purposes, like boosting an existing Wi-Fi signal (extender) or act as a centralized hub (access point). The networking world often use the term Wi-Fi to relate to these types of connection and the devices that enable them. A wireless router is probably the closest you could get to an access point. An access point is a central hub for devices to connect to a local area network, and extenders are just devices to strengthen your wireless signal. Let’s take a look at the two devices in detail.

 

What is an Access Point?

A wireless access point, or simply referred to as “access point”, is a wireless networking device that allows wireless devices and networks to connect through a wired network using wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi. The access point acts as a centralized hub that receives and transmits information over a local area network and connects users within the network. A wireless access point either connects to a router via an Ethernet cable or is part of a router. It is an integral component of a wireless local area network infrastructure that allows a variety of wireless devices access to any network resources that the device or user may have permission to access. It can operate as a standalone device which can be configured independently to allow wireless devices to connect. Independent APs are mostly used within large businesses or small offices, to extend the coverage of an existing wired network.

 

What is an Extender?

A wireless repeater, commonly referred to as “extender”, is a wireless networking device used to extend the coverage area of your wireless network. Sometimes you experience poor network performance or you’re unable to access the network in certain locations. This may be because of a poor Wi-Fi signal in your home at a specific location. There are several options available to boost a wireless signal to increase network performance at your home. One of the most efficient ways to do that is to get a wireless extender. A wireless extender, or a range extender, repeats the wireless signal from your router to expand its reach by creating a second network, eventually boosting the coverage of the main router.

 

Difference between Access Point and Extender

Terminology of Access Point vs. Extender

– Although, both the terms access point and extender are often confused with each other, they are fairly different and used for different purpose in the networking world. Access point is a wireless networking device that allows wireless devices and networks to connect through a wired network using wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi. Extender, sometimes called as repeater, on the other hand, is a networking device used to extend the coverage area of your wireless network.

Functionality of Access Point vs. Extender

– The access point is a hardware device, more like a centralized hub on a wireless local area network that allows a variety of wireless devices access to any network resources that the device or user may have permission to access. It connects to a router via an Ethernet cable or is part of a router. A wireless extender repeats the wireless signal from your router to expand its reach by creating a second network, eventually boosting the coverage of the main router.

Cost Effectiveness

– Adding the range extenders will increase your network coverage by about 50 percent compared to 100 percent increase provided by access points. And it’s always much easier and cost effective to add an extender or two, rather than setting up new access points. This is because you need to run wires throughout your home or set-up power-line devices to provide a network connection to the repeater. However, extenders are great for home networks, but no so efficient for large businesses.

Efficiency

– Using wireless range extenders reduces throughput because wireless LANs are half duplex meaning they allow two-way communication but not simultaneously, so data throughput will suffer. Each time the data traverses a wireless link using the same frequency, the data throughput is reduced to half. So, if a physical wired connection is available, it should be used for an access point connection, rather than a range extender.

Access Point vs. Extender: Comparison Chart

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Summary of Access Point vs. Extender

In a nutshell, an access point is a hardware device, more of a central hub for devices to connect to a local area network, and extenders are just devices to strengthen your wireless signal. A range extender repeats the wireless signal from your router to expand its reach by creating a second network, while an access point relies on a hardwired connection to your network, rather than simply repeating the existing network. However, range extenders are a much cost effective and easier means to boost your network coverage in your home.

 

Sagar Khillar

Sagar Khillar is a prolific content/article/blog writer working as a Senior Content Developer/Writer in a reputed client services firm based in India. He has that urge to research on versatile topics and develop high-quality content to make it the best read. Thanks to his passion for writing, he has over 7 years of professional experience in writing and editing services across a wide variety of print and electronic platforms.

Outside his professional life, Sagar loves to connect with people from different cultures and origin. You can say he is curious by nature. He believes everyone is a learning experience and it brings a certain excitement, kind of a curiosity to keep going. It may feel silly at first, but it loosens you up after a while and makes it easier for you to start conversations with total strangers – that’s what he said."

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References :


[0]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RE450_un_V1_985_large_1.00_20150623195010.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wireless_access_point.jpg

[2]Geier, Eric. Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print

[3]Vermaat, Misty E.. Discovering Computers 2014. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage, 2013. Print

[4]Doherty, Jim. Wireless and Mobile Device Security. Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2015. Print

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