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Wireless Router Vs Wireless Access Point

Thank you for any help..

Wireless Router can handle:
255 nodes?

wireless Access Point (WAP) cna handle:
255 nodes?

Wireless access points are commonly used in large office buildings to create one wireless local area network (WLAN) that spans a large area. Each access point typically supports up to 255 client computers. By connecting access points to each other, local networks having thousands of access points can be created. Client computers may move or roam between each of these access points as needed.

I have looked this up but now I am confused.

Why the trend toward WAP Or AP?
Is it because of cost?

I have read this:
a router is an AP that will allow you to connect to your ISP for internet connection. A router can be configured to work as an AP but a AP cannot function as a router

please don't refer to other links, it will only confuse me more.

just in basic simple answers please....
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5 Solutions
A wireless Access point (called an AP) is a box with an aerial to link computers and phones to your network without wires.

A router is a box that takes traffic from one place and passes it to another place (maybe a wired network being passed to another wired network.  Maybe your network being passed out to the internet, or maybe a wireless network linking to your wired network).

By their design all APs are routers in that they connect a set of machines on the wireless to your wired network and then maybe onto the Internet from there.

The main thing to look for is whether the AP has an Internet router and modem built in (so it will connect directly to your phone line) or is it just for connecting onto an existing network.

A lot of these words get used interchangeably and often incorrectly.
Oh and 255 connections to a single AP would be unusable.  It would be far too slow to deal with them both in the speed of the wireless link (which gets shared between them even if they are not talking) and also in the processing power that would be needed to shift all this data.
If it is a home device then keep the number of connections under 15.
If it is a business type device then you should still be under 40 devices.
Craig BeckCommented:
Basically, a wireless access point converts wireless to wired.  A wireless user can connect to the wired network via the access point.

A wireless router is a router with an access point built-in.

Generally dedicated wireless access points offer more features in terms of 'wireless' than routers do.  By design they are a specific unit for a specific purpose.  Wireless routers tend to include most wireless access point features, but not all.

I would say never have more than 10-15 users per access point.  However if the access point allows you to use 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously you can effectively double this number as long as you have no more than 10-15 users per frequency.  If you want to stream HD video I'd reduce that number again.
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Amour22015Author Commented:
So let me understand...

AP can not handle 255 devices,connections, nodes  it would create a bottle neck (way to slow) so the best would be under 40 devices,connections, nodes per AP and the same for Routers?


A Company has 500 employees at one site, but only has 1 wireless router and all the switches to handle the 500 employees.  This would mean that only 40 devices can have wireless access at one time (without slowing) and the rest would be all wired?

B Company has 500 employees at one site, but has 1 wireless router and enough APs (40 divided into 500)  to handle the 500 employees(without slowing)?

If so why not:
B Company has 500 employees at one site, but has enough wireless routers (40 divided into 500)  to handle the 500 employees(without slowing)?

Is it because of cost?

is this true:
a router is an AP that will allow you to connect to your ISP for internet connection. A router can be configured to work as an AP but a AP cannot function as a router?

By their design all APs are routers in that they connect a set of machines on the wireless to your wired network and then maybe (If you buy a  AP that has an Internet router and modem built in) onto the Internet from there?

Is it safe to say in a connection diagram:
1. DSL line Or T1 line
2. Wireless Router
3. Wireless Access Point
4. Firewall (firewall needed for wired devices)
5. Console
6. switches
7. devices

Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
I don't think of APs as routers at all.
Consider this:
A typical AP will have ONE Ethernet port and one or two or perhaps more wireless channels.
The wireless channel clients are connected (inside the AP) to the Ethernet/wired network.
The AP may provide DHCP - usually would.  And, along with this, the ability to reserve IP addresses for specified devices (by MAC address).
The AP may provide MAC filtering.
It may not have NAT capability at all.
And, generally no firewalling or routing table entry capability.
I think of it as a "switch" that includes wireless connections to it and the Ethernet of course.

On the other hand, a router with wireless capability will likely have some type of firewall, NAT, routing entry capabilities, etc.  Then it will have multiple Ethernet ports interfacing to a switch function along with wireless "ports" interfacing to that same switch in a simple model.  It may have the ability for the wireless to be on a separate subnet .. or not.

255 (really 254) is simply the size of a typical subnet with mask of or in CIDR terms /24.  That really has not much to do with anything here.
Some will say that 500 users on one subnet such as /23 is too many.  Actually it depends on the traffic levels and number of switches separating the traffic.  A subnet of 510 would do the trick but leaves not enough margin (spare addresses).  So, a subnet of 1,022 would be better in that regard and then just watch the traffic levels and split it if necessary.

While you might think to divide 500 by 40, that results in 12.5, so you must say 13, separated channels.  Separation can come from frequency division - just have them at different frequencies (bands) - and it can com from spatial division - have the same channel re-used but so far apart or so separated by antenna patterns that they don't interfere.  You can likely get more channels with low bandwidth and fewer channels with higher bandwidth.  So that's something to study as well.
802.11g has 11 channels but lower bandwidth OR you may use 3 of them only to get higher bandwidth .. maybe.  
Google [802.11g channels] and [802.11n channels]

The prospect of providing good wireless capability to a large number of high-bandwidth users in the same location is tough to do.  So, it takes some real analysis and care to accomplish.  There is not an "out of the box" solution.
Craig BeckCommented:
fmarshall is absolutely right - an AP is not a router, it is a bridge.
It's not cost... nearly always dedicated APs are more-expensive than routers from the same family of devices. The cost of APs that appear less expensive than routers from the same family often jumps higher when you factor in a wireless controller which they may require to function.

To convert most routers to an access point, connect it by one of its LAN ports (don't use its WAN/Internet port at all), and disable its DHCP server. Assign the LAN section an IP address in the same subnet but outside the scope of the active DHCP server's range if you don't want to have to connect to it directly to access its setups.
Your points about 500 users using either APs or Routers connected to APs are not right.

An AP (it doesn't matter if it is a router or an AP) will not handle 500 users.
It will struggle to handle 40.

There are 2 main frequency bands.  Up until quite recently they used a radio band called 2.4MHz.  This allowed for somewhere between 11 and 15 channels depending on which country you are in).  Each channel over laps the ones round it.  SO if you have an AP on channel 6 and another near by on channel 7 they will clash and not be able to work properly.
If you rule out the top few frequencies (as they will not work with some countries laptops including US ones) and you pick frequencies that do not overlap at all you end up with only three frequencies - 1, 6 and 11.
If you are going to reuse these round the building you would make matching ones as far apart as you can.  So assuming the building was a long thin straigh building you would use 1, then 6, then 11, then back to 1 again, then 6 etc.  This means the ones that clash are as far away as you can get them.
It becomes a lot harder if you have multiple floors    :S
A new frequency came into use a few years ago - 5MHz.  This has a lot more frequencies and is also a lot less used so you are not so likely to be clashing with your neighbours.
But... Not all equipment will use it.  A good example is iPhones.
The iPhone 4 will only use 2.4 frequencies.  The iPhone 5 will use either.
So you could do every other AP as a different frequency set.  The 2.4 MHz ones would hopefully still be close enough so as people roamed round the building they would be picked up but the 5MHz ones would allow other devices on.

It doesn't really matter if you say an AP is a router, a switch, a hub, or just an access point.
They all do the same job (as far as you are concerned - they just link the wireless devices onto your network).  If you have lots of them, the only thing to make sure you get - is the ones without the built in modems.  These cost more and might cause routing issues as they assume everything would route towards the phone line.
Craig BeckCommented:
I disagree, it is not correct to call an AP a router or a switch; it does a completely different job.  It works using the same principles as a hub.

Adding an AP will not cause ANY routing issues, as it does no routing, whereas adding a wireless router could, and probably would, cause issues if it's left in its default configuration.
Amour22015Author Commented:
thanks all

I am just trying to understand why there is a need (new trend) to use access points (AP).

I am not saying 500 user per AP

I am saying If there is 500 user how many AP devices would you need

So that would be a formula of:
40 user per AP device
So 40 users divided into 500 would give you how many AP devices are needed.
That would be 12.5 but you can not split a AP device so the number needed would be 13 AP devices are need?

Amour22015Author Commented:
Thanks to all
Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
yes but: Note what I said about bands and bandwidth.  It's not just a matter of counting access points by dividing 500 by 40 or 20 or ....  although that's a nice first step.   It's also a matter of spectral assignments and your performance expectations.

So, lets just say:

We will accept the idea that 40 users per channel is OK.  Maybe it is and maybe it isn't.  See  craigbeck Posted on 2013-09-26 at 14:11:47ID: 39526180 above.

Note: I say "per channel" and not "per AP" because some APs may support more than one SSID/channel at the same time (that is, they have multiple radios or radio channels available at the same time).  But, for now, let's keep it simple and say "per channel".

If one channel can support 54Mbps then that would be an *average* of 54/40= 1.35Mbps per client.  That's a respectable if not exciting number.  And, one client may use 10Mbps in a burst fashion while the others still are "OK" at 44/39 = 1.13Mbps perhaps.  This is purely descriptive of course and real numbers will vary.  Just like the ISPs, you are pretty much forced into dealing with averages unless you overkill.

So far, so good.

Since we've decided that 40 clients per channel is OK here then you get at the first shot, 13 channels of 54Mbps being necessary.  
A perhaps naïve view would be that 802.11g at 2.4GHz would be OK because it has 14 channels.
But the center frequency separation of each is only 5MHz which might support 54Mbps with 10 levels per symbol .. but I doubt it really and don't know how it's implemented in that regard.  The conventional wisdom is that channels need to be 22Mhz in width in order to be noninterfering.  So that gives you only 3 usable channels in 802.11g.  The point here is that "THE BANDS OVERLAP AND WILL INTERFERE WITH ONE ANOTHER" unless you manage spectral use carefully.

So, with spatial separation you might use more channels.  This comes through using  the attenuation of distance, the attenuation of walls, antenna patterns, etc. to minimize the effects of spectral overlap.

I believe this means that you must consider adding the 5GHz bands as well for such an ambitious undertaking.  ...
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