In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the use of the internet. This is turn has facilitated the growing popularity of the use of wireless networking devices, especially in workplaces which enable workers to do their job from remote areas without even being physically present at the concerned location. Some of the major examples of such wireless networking devices are Access Points and Extenders.
Access Point vs Extender
The difference between an Access Point and an Extender is that the former serves as a centralised hub to which several wireless devices and networks are connected. The latter on the other hand, serves as a connection booster to eliminate any kind of network disturbances.
An Access Point is the technical term used to describe a centralised Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) hub. It enables multiple networks and wireless devices to establish a connection with the same local area network through an Ethernet cable and presents a Wi-fi signal to a selected area.
An Extender, on the other hand, is used to expand the range of a wireless network. For this purpose, the extender replicates the signals coming from a WiFi router and generates an additional network. Consequently, it acts as a booster for the existing WiFi networks.
Comparison Table Between Access Point and Extender (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Access Point||Extender|
|Definition||It is like a base-station that allows multiple wireless devices to join the same LAN.||It is a wireless networking device that provides a booster to an existing connection so that its coverage area can be expanded.|
|Network type||It creates its network.||It replicates an existing network.|
|Useful for||Large businesses and residential networks.||Home Networks.|
|Network quality||Does not compromise with network quality.||Network quality deteriorates by 50 per cent.|
|Feasibility||It is quite expensive and difficult to create new access points.||It is cost-effective and easier to use multiple extenders.|
What is Access Point?
It is a wireless networking hardware device that enables other WiFi networks and devices to connect to the wireless local area network (WLAN) created by it. An accent point simply connects ta a router or a modem or a switch using an Ethernet cable for transmitting and receiving signals through built-in radios. However, it can be used as a separate device as well.
Like a hotspot, it provides and supports the network of various wireless devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets and so on. But they are distinguished from hotspots because the latter is a concrete location where one can find a WiFi connection.
Access Points are often confused with ad hoc networks. But it is important to note that the latter connects two or more devices directly when they are within range and do not require an accent point. Also, in stark contrast to access points, ad hoc networks works well only with a small number of devices and that too when they are closer to each other.
Standalone Access Points are mainly used in big businesses or small offices to expand the range of an existing WiFi network. While those combined with an existing router are mainly used in residential areas.
Some of the major advantages of Access Points are as follows:
- Access Points provide the freedom for adjusting the scale of the number of devices to be supported in a particular network, especially at sixty concurrent networks each.
- Business-grade access points can be stationed at any place where an Ethernet cable can be run. Consequently, a separate power line or an outline is not required near the access point.
- With the help of additional features like Access Control List support and Captive Portals, guest access can be limited without disturbing connection security at the same time easily managing multiple devices within a WiFi network.
- Select access points comprise of a Clustering feature that allows IT administrators to observe, configure, deploy and secure a wireless network as a single unit rather than a set of independent access point configurations.
Despite such major advantages, access points do have some limitations as well.
- One needs to hardwire them into the router by deploying a network cable.
- A Power over Ethernet (POE) or a power socket is required to power them in case of no easy access to power supply.
What is Extender?
It acts as a wireless repeater. As the name suggests, it is used to expand the range of an existing wireless connection. It creates a replica of the existing WiFi network which serves as an additional support and therefore helps in boosting the WiFi coverage of the main router. Consequently, they are placed between an Access Point and the most distant client of an existing connection.
It is quite evident that the Extender also performs the task of a WiFi booster but they are not same. What distinguishes a WiFi Extender from a WiFi booster is that the former makes itself useful in those situations and areas where the latter is just not enough. In other words, a WiFi Extender is more effective and stable than a WiFi booster.
Extenders are mostly used to attain a small increase in the range of a particular network. They serve best when the client does not need a strong connection to operate or when they are not using time-sensitive applications such as those used for streaming or gaming. That is to say, Extenders are not much useful for high-performance networks.
Also, Extenders can prove to be useful mostly for residential spaces connecting only a few devices and with no intention of providing networks to those who are outside the house. By capturing and rebroadcasting the network from an existing router, they help in transmitting the signal to those corners of the house where the connection is non-existent or weak.
Despite being a very stable source of WiFi network, Wireless Extenders has its disadvantages:
- They can perform their functions efficiently only when they are compatible with the wireless network capabilities of the existing router.
- They require two-way communications that is to capture the signal provided by the router and then wait for the client devices to pick up after it has thrown out the signal at them.
- They need to be carefully placed near the router; otherwise, the performance and speed of the signal can experience a 50 per cent loss.
Main Differences Between Access Point and Extender
- Both terms are related to wireless networking. But an Access Point acts as the centralised hub of networks while an Extender acts as a booster of existing networks.
- An Access Point creates its own wireless local area network. While an Extender creates a replica of an existing network.
- Access Points are useful for both big or small offices and residential areas. While Extenders are useful for home networks but not so much for large offices.
- Despite expanding the coverage area of an existing connection, the use of multiple extenders can downgrade the performance and speed of the existing network. While the creation of new access points not only extends the range of a network but also ensures that the quality of the connection does not deteriorate
- It is easier and economical to use multiple extenders rather than constructing new access points.
There are a lot of confusions over the usage of the term access point and extender. Such confusions are generated by the fact that certain wireless networking devices perform both the functions of acting as a centralised network hub and a booster to the existing WiFi networks.
Nonetheless, they are completely different from each other not only in terms of their meaning but also in terms of their role in networking.
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