Wi-Fi technology has improved greatly in recent years, but it’s not one-size-fits-all, especially when it
comes to businesses. Large office spaces with heavy traffic typically utilize Wi-Fi access points, while
small offices with limited users are more likely to have Wi-Fi routers and range extenders.
Let’s take a look at how their features compare to find the best Wi-Fi solution for you.
What is an Access Point?
An access point is a device that creates a wireless local area network, or WLAN, usually in an office or large building. An access point connects to a wired router, switch, or hub via an Ethernet cable, and projects a Wi-Fi signal to a designated area. For example, if you want to enable Wi-Fi access in your company's reception area but don’t have a router within range, you can install an access point near the front desk and run an Ethernet cable through the ceiling back to the server room.
What is a Range Extender?
As its name implies, a range extender lengthens the reach of an existing Wi-Fi network. Since range extenders connect wirelessly to Wi-Fi routers, they must be placed where the Wi-Fi router's signal is already strong, not in the location of the actual dead spot. For instance, if your router is in the basement of a two-story building, installing a range-extended on the ground floor (where coverage from the Wi-Fi router is still strong) will eliminate potential dead zones on the second floor.
Why Access Points Are Better for Businesses
While range extenders are great for home Wi-Fi networks, they’re not efficient for modern businesses. This is because they can only support a limited number of devices at one time, usually no more than 20. While range extenders to increase the coverage of a Wi-Fi router, they do not increase its available bandwidth. Depending on the number of devices you have connected simultaneously, a range extender could end up weighing down your connection.
Access points, on the other hand, can handle over 60 simultaneous connections each. By installing access points throughout the office, users can roam freely from room to room without experiencing network interruptions. As they move through the building, their devices shift seamlessly from one access point to the next without dropping the connection—they won’t even realize they’re switching between networks.