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What Is an Access Point?

A wireless router and access point.
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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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The phrase “access point” refers to an object that serves as a connection or medium for other devices to gain access to the Internet or to other devices in the network. This “access point” can be a small device, a computer program or software, or even an area where network data can be sent and received. Access points, depending on the kind, can connect one or multiple users. With the necessity of modern devices such as laptops and mobile phones, many households today have access points for all devices to connect to the Internet. Public areas such as parks, restaurants and malls provide unsecured access points for public consumption and usage.

A common example of an access point is a router, a device that receives and sends data when a computer or other devices are linked to it. Earlier uses of a router needed an actual cable or wire connection linking it to a computer. A wired network was found to be a hassle, especially in schools and offices, where multiple computers should be connected to just one access point with numerous cables. All the wires took up much space on the ceilings, inside the walls, and on the floors. The development and arrival of a wireless access point (WAP) became the solution to this problem.

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WAP is a kind of access point that enables devices to connect to a network without the use of multiple cables. Usually with an antenna, the WAP is a small device connected to the router through a cable. Once the router and the WAP are turned on, any devices such as a laptop can have a network connection and Internet access, provided that the device has wireless capability enabled. Homes that have WAPs should always secure their networks with an encryption or a password to prevent any unauthorized connection. The rule of thumb with WAP is that the nearer a device is to the access point, the better the connection.

Another kind of access point is the Bluetooth™. The difference between a WAP and Bluetooth™ is the distance, as the latter can only perform in a short-ranged distance. Bluetooth™ allows devices to connect, send and receive data to each another. Due to its short-ranged performance, Bluetooth™ can also be used in other ways, such as in a hands-free and wireless headset, wireless connection of external devices such as keyboard and mouse, and even a multi-player game setting in a player console.

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Discuss this Article

everetra
Post 3

@nony - Yes, Bluetooth is used in a lot of technologies these days. For example, I have a wireless keyboard. It works from up to 30 feet away from my computer (as if I could read from that distance) and it uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with the computer.

I plug a Bluetooth device into the USB port of the computer and the keyboard communicates with that device. It’s easy. At first I was concerned about going wireless with the keyboard because of the possibility of interference from things like cordless phones or what have you. However, I haven’t had a single problem or glitch. I should have done this a long time ago.

nony
Post 2

@hamje32 - I love the Bluetooth technology. It’s now built into just about every cell phone out there I believe.

I use it mainly to upload pictures to my computer. My computer didn’t have Bluetooth capability so I bought a device to plug into my USB port and make it Bluetooth compatible. I then turn on my cell phone, select Bluetooth, and it will locate my computer. I then can upload pictures very easily.

This is a big improvement over the way I used to do it in the “old days.” I used to plug a cable from the phone to the computer, or worse, slip out the SD card and plug it into the computer’s SD reader.

Both methods worked, but they were a big hassle. Bluetooth is super fast and easy. I’ve been making more backups of my cell phone pictures as a result.

hamje32
Post 1

I have a wireless router set up for my computer system and it allows me to connect to my computer with a laptop anywhere in the house.

Actually, I was a little slow to the game in getting in on this technology. Although I had high speed Internet for quite some time, I didn’t invest in a router. It was quite embarrassing when some friends would come over and want to show me things on their laptops (for which they needed Internet connectivity) and I told them I wasn’t set up to go wireless.

I would then have to drag them to my office and work off my desktop’s Internet connection. Setting up the router turned out to be much simpler than I imagined. It only requires a little bit of administration, password encryption and so forth. It’s very easy to use.

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