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Access Point vs Range Extender

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  • Last Updated : 15 May, 2022
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Wireless communication takes place over free space through RF (radio frequency), one device, Transmitter send signal to other device, Receiver. Two devices (transmitter and receiver) must use same frequency (or channel) to be able to communicate with each other. In this article, we will see, the basic difference between Access Point and Range Extender.

Access Point:

An access point or wireless access point refers to the device in computer networking using which wireless networks can be connected to a wired network. The device is most often deployed in large offices, companies, etc. 

Working:

An Ethernet cable is used by the access points for building up a connection with a wired router and then providing Wi-Fi in that particular area. In case of need in extending the Wi-Fi connection to another place in your area, and the router is not available then you can install an access point and make a connection with the router through an Ethernet cable.

Diagramatic Relation between Access Point and Extender.

 

Advantages of Access Points

  • Access points (wireless) can be accessed by users at any given location provided the availability of ethernet cable.
  • Access points have the ability to serve multiple connected devices at a time. Let us assume that multiple users (say 100) trying to connect to a network through an access point without any issue.
  • A distance of hundreds of meters can be covered using access points as compared to wireless routers.
  • Because of its flexibility, it can accommodate different networking devices and networking protocols. Thus, making it suitable for organizations, large offices, etc.
  • Security consideration is taken up by providing the features like Access Control List (ACL) support and captive portals using which account management is done and restriction of limits can be imposed on the guest access. 
  • The clustering feature also lets you manage all the access points in a network as a single unit rather than managing them independently. It gives a more secure wireless network.

Disadvantages of Access Points:

  • A cable is required to hardwire them into the router.
  • It is not a cost-effective solution if there is a requirement for a large number of access points. Instead, companies prefer to use the less efficient connection with lower costs.
  • If a power supply is not accessible then a power socket is required to power them.
  • It comes in a package like with other equipment. For example, an Ethernet hub and hence, it cannot be used independently. 
  • Wireless networks lack speed and stability, unlike cable networks which perform well in their comparison.

Range Extenders:

Range Extenders are used for the strengthening of wireless signals. Let us suppose you are using a wireless connection at your home place and finding that at some places signal range is quite good while at other places it is quite weak. Thus, for these scenarios range extenders can be of great assistance. 

Working:

It takes up the signal from the existing Wi-Fi router and then a new network is generated to which now you can connect. The broadcasting of this second-created network is carried out on a different wireless channel.

Advantages of Range Extenders:

  • Range Extenders provide a cost-effective solution as these are meant for individuals.
  • The installation process is quite easy. The setup has a plug-and-play functionality which does not take much time the installation. So, it is easy to configure than wireless access points.
  • It provides greater coverage along with the strengthening of the Wi-Fi signal.
  • It works effectively for those users where strong network connectivity is not a major concern. 

Disadvantages of Range Extenders:

  • Using range extenders there is only an increase of 50% in the covered range as compared to wireless access points where it is 100%.
  • The location of the range extender has a vital role as there is a chance of an issue in internet connectivity if it is placed far away from the router. Hence, performance suffers.
  • There is a chance of wireless interference from other networks using range extenders.
  • The security is at risk with range extenders as they create a new network that is prone to cyber-attacks. So, there is the possibility of attack by other users.

Difference between Access Points and Range Extenders:

Sr. No. Parameters Access Point Range Extender
1. Definition It acts as a centralized hub point for the linking of wireless devices and networks to a wired network.  It extends the range of wireless signals to ensure no interruptions in the wireless network.
2. Network Type Access points are used to create wireless networks. Range Extenders are used to repeat the existing wireless network.
3. Network Coverage Network coverage is increased to 100% using access points in a particular area. Network coverage is increased to only 50% using range extenders in a particular area.
4. Speed Internet speed is not affected with access points as bandwidth is not reduced. The Internet bandwidth is affected by range extender if the internet speed is more than the Wi-Fi coming from the router then it will lower the speed of the Internet.
5. Functionality It functions by making connections with wireless devices. It expands the network coverage area by boosting the strength of the signal.
6. Space Access points are used for the network coverage of larger areas. Range Extenders are used for the network coverage of smaller areas.
7.  Usage The access points find their application in the corporate world like offices, etc. The range extenders find their applications at home like increasing the performance of your wireless network.
8. Better Option For individuals, access points are not a better option. For individuals, range extenders are a better option.
9. Cost It is not cost-effective in comparison to the extender. It is cost-effective in comparison to access points.
10. Support Access Points support 60 devices which are three folds than range extenders. Thus fit for larger areas. Range Extenders support 20 devices so does not fit  the larger areas.
11. Efficiency Efficiency does not suffer. In range extenders, throughput is reduced because as data travels, the wireless links using the same frequency will reduce the throughput to nearly half of its capacity.
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