All You Need To Know About Access Points

Access points are crucial in providing wireless network connectivity, allowing devices to bridge wireless connections to a wired network. This comprehensive guide will delve into access points, exploring their purpose, configurations, and the benefits of upgrading.

We will also compare access points with wireless routers and Wi-Fi® extenders, giving you the information you need to make an informed decision. So, let’s dive in and gain valuable insights into access points!

Key takeaways

  • Wireless access points allow devices to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi, acting as a hub and bridge between wireless and wired connections.
  • An access point should be strategically placed to provide maximum wireless coverage and capacity, often mounted centrally to penetrate walls and cover a large area.
  • Upgrading access points can improve speed, capacity, security, and support for new IoT devices.
  • Access points differ from wireless Wi-Fi routers’ focus on extending network reach, while routers offer additional features like routing, firewalls, and switching.

What is a wireless access point?

A wireless access point, also known as a WAP or Wi-Fi router, is a networking device that enables wireless network connectivity for capable devices. It serves as a hub, allowing devices to connect to a local area network (LAN) and access the internet. Access points use ethernet cable connections to bridge wireless devices to a wired router or modem, providing internet access.

Wireless access points can be managed through mobile apps or web-based interfaces, making configuration and management convenient.

Understanding wireless access points

Wireless Access Points (APs) are a crucial component in any wireless network, serving as the hub that connects wireless devices to the network. They transmit and receive data over the air, convert it to a wired signal, and send it back to the wired broadband router.

APs are strategically placed to provide maximum coverage and capacity, often mounted in hallways or other central locations to ensure a strong signal can penetrate through walls into classrooms, dorm rooms, or offices. Eliminating the need for external, directional antennas can add complexity and cost to AP mounting.

The technology behind APs is constantly evolving, with standards like 802.11ac Wave 2 leading the way. This standard, approved by the IEEE in 2013, enhances the previous 802.11n standard with additional features for consumer Wi-Fi.

However, it’s important to note that not all APs are created equal. Some, like RUCKUS® APs, go above and beyond basic standards, using optimised boards, antennas, and industrial designs based on how the AP will be used or where it will be deployed.

This ensures optimal performance in various environments, from stadiums to residence halls, where robust outdoor hardware, mesh networks, and point-to-point bridging may be required.

Why should I upgrade my Wi-Fi access points?

Upgrading your Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) can benefit your network performance and user experience. Here are a few reasons why an upgrade might be necessary:

Improved Speed and Performance

Newer APs support the latest Wi-Fi standards like Wi-Fi 7, which offer faster data transfer rates, improved performance in congested areas, and better power efficiency for connected devices.

Enhanced Capacity

As Wi-Fi-enabled devices grow, older APs might struggle to handle the increased demand. Upgraded APs can support more simultaneous connections, ensuring smooth performance even as your network usage grows.

Better Security

 Newer APs have advanced security features to protect your network from threats. This includes support firmware updates for the latest encryption standards and other security protocols.

Support for New Technologies

 If you want to implement new technologies like IoT, you’ll need APs to support these devices. Upgraded APs are more likely to be compatible with the latest technologies.

Network Management

 Many modern APs come with software that makes it easier to manage your network. This can include features for network monitoring, analytics, and troubleshooting.

Remember, an efficient and robust Wi-Fi network is about having the latest APs and proper placement, configuration, and management.

At Nextro, we can help you assess your current network and determine the best path for upgrades to ensure you get the most out of your Wi-Fi infrastructure.

What are the Key factors in Determining the Right Access Point?

Choosing the correct Access Point (AP) for your needs can be complex, given the variety of options available. Here are some key factors to consider:


The physical environment where the AP will be deployed plays a crucial role. For instance, if you’re deploying in an ample open space, you might need an AP with a higher range. If the environment is dense with walls, obstructions, and interference, an AP with solid signal penetration and multiple antennas might be more suitable.

User Density

Consider the number of users or devices connecting to the AP. Higher user density, like a school district, requires an AP to handle more simultaneous connections without compromising speed or performance.

Bandwidth Requirements

If your network usage involves high-bandwidth activities like streaming video, gaming, or video conferencing, you’ll need an AP to deliver wireless networking with high data rates.


The AP should be compatible with the devices connecting to it. For instance, if your devices support Wi-Fi 6, your AP should also support this standard to take full advantage of its benefits.


Look for APs that support robust network security protocols like WPA3 and have features like automatic client security configuration and integration with your existing security infrastructure.

Ease of Management

If deploying multiple APs, consider solutions that offer centralised local management through a physical controller or a cloud-based platform.


Technology evolves rapidly, so it’s wise to choose an AP that is ready for future developments. For instance, even if your current use case doesn’t require Wi-Fi 7, choosing a Wi-Fi 7 AP can be a good investment for the future.


Wireless access points are a critical component of any high-performing Wi-Fi network. When selecting an access point, it’s essential to carefully assess your environment, usage needs, desired technologies, and capacity requirements.

Strategically upgrading older access points can substantially improve speed, connectivity, and support for emerging devices and applications.

Newer generation access points like those supporting Wi-Fi 6/6E or the new Wi-Fi 7 standard will future-proof your network for cutting-edge technologies.

Careful placement and network configurations like controller-based or cloud-managed models can optimise performance across multiple access points.

With robust, enterprise-grade access points from trusted vendors like Ruckus, businesses and organisations can build fast, reliable, and secure wireless networks ready for the demands of tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an access point the same as a router?

No, access points and routers are different devices with distinct functionalities. Access points bridge wireless devices to wired networks, while routers connect multiple networks and manage traffic between them. Access points are often used in conjunction with routers to provide wireless connectivity.

Which is better, a Wi-Fi extender or an access point?

Access points are generally considered better than Wi-Fi extenders in terms of performance and reliability. Access points use ethernet cable connections, ensuring a more robust and stable device connection. However, Wi-Fi extenders are often less expensive and easier to set up, making them suitable for home use or small offices with limited network infrastructure.

What is Power over Ethernet, POE?

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology allows network cables to carry electrical power. It simplifies the process of powering devices like IP cameras, Wi-Fi access points, and network switches, eliminating the need for separate power supplies or outlets and enabling easier installation and management of networked devices.

If you want to know more about the best Access Points for your organisations, get in touch now.