In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in internet use.
This, in turn, has facilitated the growing popularity of wireless networking devices, especially in workplaces that enable workers to do their job from remote areas without even being physically present at the concerned location.
Access Points and Extenders are significant examples of such wireless networking devices.
- Access points connect directly to a wired network, providing Wi-Fi access to clients within range.
- Extenders or repeaters increase Wi-Fi coverage by wirelessly connecting to an existing network and rebroadcasting its signal.
- Access points offer a more reliable and faster connection, while extenders are easier to set up and more affordable for extending Wi-Fi coverage.
Access Point vs. Extender
The difference between an Access Point and an Extender is that the former is a centralized hub to which several wireless devices and networks are connected. The latter, on the other hand, serves as a connection booster to eliminate any network disturbances.
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An Access Point is a technical term used to describe a centralized Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) hub.
It enables multiple networks and wireless devices to connect with the same local area network through an Ethernet cable and presents a Wi-fi signal to a selected area.
On the other hand, an Extender is used to expand the range of a wireless network.
For this purpose, the extender replicates the signals from a WiFi router and generates an additional network. Consequently, it acts as a booster for the existing WiFi networks.
|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 to expand its coverage area.|
|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 the network quality.||Network quality deteriorates by 50 percent.|
|Feasibility||It is pretty expensive and challenging 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 connects a router, modem, or 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, tablets, etc. 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 work well only with a few devices, and that too when they are closer.
Standalone Access Points are mainly used in big businesses or small offices to expand the range of an existing WiFi network. At the same time, those combined with an existing router are mainly used in residential areas.
Some of the significant advantages of Access Points are as follows:
- Access Points provide the freedom to adjust 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 anywhere an Ethernet cable can 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 while efficiently managing multiple devices within a WiFi network.
- Select access points comprise 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 significant 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 the 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 additional support and therefore helps boost the WiFi coverage of the primary router.
Consequently, they are placed between an Access Point and the most distant client of an existing connection.
It is evident that the Extender also performs the task of a WiFi booster, but they are not the 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 insufficient.
In other words, a WiFi Extender is more effective and stable than a WiFi booster.
Extenders are mainly used to attain a slight increase in the range of a particular network.
They serve best when the client does not need a solid connection or is 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 be helpful primarily for residential spaces connecting only a few devices and with no intention of providing networks to those outside the house.
By capturing and rebroadcasting the network from an existing router, they help transmit 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 have their 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 sign at them.
- They need to be carefully placed near the router; otherwise, the performance and speed of the signal can experience a 50 percent loss.
Main Differences Between Access Point and Extender
- Both terms are related to wireless networking. But an Access Point acts as the centralized hub of networks while an Extender acts as a booster of existing networks.
- An Access Point creates its wireless local area network. At the same time, an Extender creates a replica of an existing network.
- Access Points are valid for big or small offices and residential areas, while Extenders are helpful for home networks but not for large offices.
- Despite expanding the coverage area of an existing connection, using 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
- Using multiple extenders rather than constructing new access points is easier and more economical.
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Sandeep Bhandari holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computers from Thapar University (2006). He has 20 years of experience in the technology field. He has a keen interest in various technical fields, including database systems, computer networks, and programming. You can read more about him on his bio page.