Wireless Access Point (WAP)
Wireless access points, referred to as either WAPs or wireless APs, are a transmitter and receiver (transceiver) device used for wireless LAN (WLAN) radio signals. A WAP is typically a separate network device with a built-in antenna, transmitter, and adapter. WAPs use the wireless infrastructure network mode to provide a connection point between WLANs and a wired Ethernet LAN. WAPs also typically have several ports allowing a way to expand the network to support additional clients.
Depending on the size of the network, one or more WAPs may be required. Additional WAPs are used to allow access to more wireless clients and to expand the range of the wireless network. Each WAP is limited by a transmissions range, the distance a client can be from a WAP and still get a useable signal. The actual distance depends on the wireless standard being used and the obstructions and environmental conditions between the client and the WAP. Figure 3.26 shows an example of a WAP in a network configuration.
Figure 3.26 WAPs connect WLANs and a wired Ethernet LAN.
As mentioned, a WAP is used in an infrastructure wireless network design. Used in the infrastructure mode, the WAP receives transmissions from wireless devices within a specific range and transmits those signals to the network beyond. This network may be a private Ethernet network or the Internet. The transmission range a WAP can support and number of wireless devices that can connect to it depends on the wireless standard being used and the signal interference between the two devices. In infrastructure wireless networking, there may be multiple access points to cover a large area or only a single access point for a small area such as a single home or small building.
Figure 3.27 shows an example of an infrastructure wireless network using a WAP.
Figure 3.27 An infrastructure wireless network uses a WAP.