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What exactly is an access point?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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January 31, 2014 7:30:31 PM

Just a basic question here. I was watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw0TKDuv_g4 and it raised my curiosity. I know its to connect to your network (like home internet) via a wireless device (like an ipod touch) with wifi, but where does it stand in your network. I assume it goes like this ISP>Modem>router>access point, is that correct? If so, what is the difference between an access point and a wifi signal booster, unless they are the same? Also, is it possible to connect an access point wirelessly to your router?

Open to all feedback. Thanks!

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January 31, 2014 7:34:15 PM

Yes. Some ISP's provide a modem that includes a router so that you can connect wireless devices without anything but the modem, but I have my ISP's modem connected to my router that provides wireless and a few wired ports as well.
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January 31, 2014 7:45:31 PM

ss202sl said:
Yes. Some ISP's provide a modem that includes a router so that you can connect wireless devices without anything but the modem, but I have my ISP's modem connected to my router that provides wireless and a few wired ports as well.


Yeah, i have ATT U verse and they have the modem and router in one. I connect all my wireless devices to that and my pc hardwired to it too. But if i wanted to add a stronger signal to another part of my house or just have a stronger signal overall, can i buy and connect an access point and connect it to that modem/router?
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January 31, 2014 11:15:01 PM

The vendors want to sell you all the junk they possible can so they try to confuse you as much as possible with inconstant terms. A AP is the best device you can get for "extending" a wireless signal. You take up to a 100m ethernet cable connect it to your router and create a new wireless signal on the end. It still uses your router for the internet access and ip and everything it just adds another wireless radio at a remote location.

These work very well.

Almost any other "extender" is junk. There really is no such thing as a radio booster or amplifier. Any device that actually would increase the output of the router would likely be illegal. All routers transmit at the legal maximum as it is. The wireless repeaters that receive a signal and retransmit are only used when any signal is better than none at all. At the very minimum you lose 50% of your bandwidth but most time you lose far more. The key problem is they transmit and receive on the same exact channel so in effect they are competing with themselves. They work very poorly in most cases......but if you only other option is no connection then you just live with random drops and slow transfers at times.
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January 31, 2014 11:31:53 PM

bill001g said:
The vendors want to sell you all the junk they possible can so they try to confuse you as much as possible with inconstant terms. A AP is the best device you can get for "extending" a wireless signal. You take up to a 100m ethernet cable connect it to your router and create a new wireless signal on the end. It still uses your router for the internet access and ip and everything it just adds another wireless radio at a remote location.

These work very well.

Almost any other "extender" is junk. There really is no such thing as a radio booster or amplifier. Any device that actually would increase the output of the router would likely be illegal. All routers transmit at the legal maximum as it is. The wireless repeaters that receive a signal and retransmit are only used when any signal is better than none at all. At the very minimum you lose 50% of your bandwidth but most time you lose far more. The key problem is they transmit and receive on the same exact channel so in effect they are competing with themselves. They work very poorly in most cases......but if you only other option is no connection then you just live with random drops and slow transfers at times.


Would you have to re connect to the second signal or wifi from an AP if you go out of boundary of the primary (router) signal? What do you think about Open Mesh? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnVBzhH3yLM
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January 31, 2014 11:47:13 PM

It is much worse than you even think it is when you talk about roaming between AP. Cisco and other vendors have had a solution for many of these issues for many years but all involve installing special vpn clients in all the end devices. I do not have time to watch youtube videos but I am sure there are other solutions but then it is not really 802.11 wireless is it. That would be like look at how LTE solves this issue for cell towers as you drive it is completely different equipment.

How exactly this works varies a little from OS to OS and even to a point based on which chipset is used in your wireless driver.

So how windows normally works is it connects to the strongest wireless signal. It will stay with that signal even if a stronger signal becomes available at a different time. For example you stand next to you main router and connect. You now walk to you AP and sit next to it. If the windows machine can get any signal from the main router it will continue to use it even if it is getting huge data loss. It will only switch when it pretty much completely loses the signal. It then goes and searches for the strongest signal at that moment. Of course you must be using the same encryption method and keys or you will have to reconfigure the PC every time also. Even when it works well you will see a small outage as it renegotiates the keys and such with the new device.
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February 1, 2014 3:29:06 PM

DarkDubzs said:
If so, what is the difference between an access point and a wifi signal booster, unless they are the same?


An access point requires a Ethernet cable or other non-radio source to connect it to a network. A signal booster is a WiFi only device that picks up the radio signal and re-transmits the network connection.

Also, is it possible to connect an access point wirelessly to your router? said:

Also, is it possible to connect an access point wirelessly to your router?

Yes, if you use a bridge to connect the WiFi to a wired network. Essentially building your own "signal booster" with separate parts. It could be a good idea for certain circumstances, such as picking up WiFi outside and bringing it inside a building. Or picking it up on one story of a house where there is line of sight to the router to pass the network through the floor where the WiFi can't reach.
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