Wireless Access Points - What They Do & How They Work

March 13, 2019
by
Tom
wireless-access-point-thumb

What Is A Wireless Access Point?

wap

You may be struggling with a poor WIFI signal and come across the term “Wireless Access Point”. Most people with their domestic broadband router take the wireless connection for granted but this isn’t the case with many routers cannot not be connected to over wireless. Like I said most domestic routers are WIFI compatible but if the router you had wasn’t and you wanted WIFI, then you would need a Wireless Access Point, often just referred to as ‘WAP’ or ‘AP’.

 

Wireless Access Points can also be added to your existing set up for improved WIFI coverage. It is becoming more and more common to install multiple of these in buildings where a single WIFI connection wouldn’t be able to serve an entire property. This is usually large buildings or buildings with large solid walls or where the wireless connection needs to pass through many objects to get where it needs to get to.

 

How Does A Wireless Access Point Work?

 

Access points work by connecting direct to your broadband router or network switch with a Ethernet or data cable. This provides the AP with the internet connection and bandwidth required. It then transmits and receives a wireless signal in either the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz frequency range (WIFI).This allows you to connect wireless to your Local Area Network (LAN) and the internet.

 

Wireless Access points are perfect for devices where you cannot connect a physical Ethernet cable or where it would be difficult to do so, making them perfect for providing an internet connection to Smart phones,Tablets, Laptops, Wireless Audio Systems, Smart TV’s and so on. I personally work on the philosophy of “wires for the things that don’t move, wireless for things that do.” This means that for the best, fastest and most secure connection a dedicated Ethernet cable would be the best way to go for your PC’sand Smart TV’s etc, but obviously this may mean drilling holes in walls and lifting floorboards to install some Category 5 so a good wireless connection would be the next best solution.

 

Do I Need A Wireless Access Point?

 

As I already touched upon above, if you have a router that is not WIFI compatible and if you wanted WIFI then yes. Also, if you have a large property where you have WIFI “blackspots” the you should give the installation of access point(s) some serious consideration. A weak WIFI signal could create a poor internet speed, even if you have fibre super-fast broadband that works otherwise fine. If the wireless connection between your router/ AP is weak then this will compromise your internet performance which can cause slow loading times, internet dropping out and buffering when streaming video from the internet and all those other things which has become unacceptable in today’s world.

Before rushing out and buying one I recommend first testing your broadband speed to see that it is reasonable. There are many online testers you can use for this, simply typing in “speed test” into Google will bring you to Google’s own speed tester. Hit ‘Run Speed Test’ and this will give you your broadband speed. Of course if you are already suffering with a poor WIFI signal then this could come back that it is slow when your broadband speed is considerably faster. It’s a bit trickier but I recommend logging into your router and checking your connection speed for a more accurate result but I understand that this isn’t always possible.

 

The next thing I advise is to download a free WIFI analyser app for your phone. This will allow you to see the strength of your existing WIFI around your property. Switch it on and have a roam around. Where is drops very weak or where it disappears completely then there is a good chance that a Wireless Access Point will be beneficial to you.

 

Can I Install More Than One Access Point? How Many Can Install?

 

If you were wondering whether you can install additional AP’s then the answer is yes. If you have a very large house which needed complete WIFI coverage or a commercial property, then you can pretty much install as many as you want. Just remember that more isn’t always more. The more wireless devices that you have the more pieces of equipment that have to compete for the same amount of space. This is of particular importance when installing wireless systems within flats or terraced houses where you also have to compete with your neighbours’ wireless signals also. If this is the case with yourself and again I recommend checking on your WIFI analyser app to see how many devices you are competing with, you may want to get a Wireless Access Point that is also 5Ghz compatible. Most WIFI operate on the 2.4Ghz range but as this is becoming more and more occupied, often 5Ghz provides some free space where otherwise it would difficult to achieve.

 

If you’re going to be installing more than one access point, I would advise getting a model that supports fast switching so that your system will automatically connect you to the strongest access point, which will enable you where required to roam around your property and automatically switch between access points when set up with a single SSID. It also mean you can have a single login for your whole property which can be advantageous. I can personally recommend the Ubiquiti Unifi range for such a task and you may want to consider turning off your WIFI from your router as it can becoming confusing having more than one login.

 

What Type Of Wireless Access Point Should I Buy?

Ubiquiti-Unifi

 

Again, personally talking from experience I recommend the Ubiquiti Unifi range, the good about this is the system is expandable which means that additional access points can easily be added at a later date. They also provide a variety of different models which can provide different types of solutions. For example, in commercial environments you will have much more connecting to the access point than with an WAP installed at a residential address, well maybe not if you have teenagers in the house! If this is the case you will want to opt for a higher end model that can cope with much more devices connecting to it. I also touched upon getting access points that are compatible in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ranges and if you wanted outdoor access point for outdoor WIFI, these exist too. There are many different types and models, I recommend that you do some research yourself on the different types.

 

Also I would suggest if you want to mount the Wireless Access Points on the walls or on the ceilings for a neat installation that you should opt for a model that it POE compatible. POE stands for Power Over Ethernet and means that both the data and power for the device itself can be installed with a single Cat5 or Cat6 cable connecting to it.

 

Wireless Access Points Setup – Questions Help & Advice

 

If you need any help of advice with your system I will be happy to advise where I can providing that you post your comments in the BLOG COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. I honestly do not have the time to respond to all the enquiries I receive individually so please DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES OR FILL OUT OUR CONTACT FORMS as you will not receive a response. I also appreciate your patience when you do post your comments in the section below as I always have a lot of my plate time wise. Regardless, if you are going to be installing your own access points and terminating cat 5 cable connectors or installation RJ45 wall plates you may want to visit our DIY video section for help and advice. Also the Smart Aerials Youtube channel has lots of relevant content.

Before I leave I think that it would be right be to say that I don't think that bathing every room in WIFI is necessarily always a good idea. I have read that wireless exposure during the night can affect natural sleep patterns so you may want to set a schedule on your WIFI so that it goes off at night or instead install a physical cable. i also appreciate that you haven't come to this blog for health advice so I will leave that there.

 

I hoped you liked the blog, until next time.

 

Tom

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