How to Choose the Best Wireless Access Point and When You Need It

An access point (AP) is basically a network-capable device containing a transceiver and antenna for transmitting signals to and receiving signals from the remote clients. The access point thus provides a “point of access” to the wired network for the remote clients. The access points allow wireless clients to be quickly and easily connected to a wired LAN.

Wireless Outdoor Access Point

Generally wireless AP is designed for indoor purposes where the environments are not harsh. But deployment of the wireless APs in harsh environments should have specific design. For outdoor or harsh environments, the device must be manufactured with rugged housing and industrial-grade components to allow the devices to operate under extreme temperatures ranges for example from -30~70 degrees C and embedded with the surge protection, weather-proof, water-tight, and rust resistant.

When We Need Wireless AP

Basically in home usage you require a wireless AP if you want to share your broadband Internet connection wirelessly with many computers within the household. You can connect the wireless AP to your existing modem router to create a wireless network for internet sharing. But you must assure that your modem includes the router or firewall NAT feature. If your current modem is a pure modem without a NAT firewall feature, you need a wireless router for Internet sharing. Unless there will be one client computer only that can connect to the internet.

In business networks when you require providing wireless connection to areas where running network cables is impossible, you can use the wireless AP for wireless access to the network. Or when you require providing mobile devices wirelessly access the network, you can create hotspots with security segregation. Or in harsh plant environments you can create point-to-point, point-to-multi point, or mesh networks, you require wireless outdoor access points.

Which Best Wireless Access Point

Technology makes life easier. Manufacturers develop new better technology with introduction of new products with better performance. Choosing the best wireless AP is a moving target because there will always come new introduction of new products with better technology and innovation. For now how to choose the best wireless AP you should examine the manufacturer specs to include the following features:

Multifunction Modes

The wireless AP should be able to work with different operational modes: Access point, Repeater, Network Bridge, and wireless Client mode. In the Wireless Access Point Mode, the device allows for any existing wired network to go wireless by simply attaching the device using the Ethernet cable to an open port in your router or switch.

In the Wireless Ethernet Bridge Mode or Client mode, the device enables any wired Ethernet-ready device to connect to your existing wireless network. Connect your PC, notebook, printer, network camera, or even an entire wired network to the AP device via a Switch and establish a wireless connection to your wireless network. In repeater mode, you can add other AP devices to extend the wireless network without the need to run backbone cables.

WDS Support

Best wireless AP should support the Wireless Distribution System (WDS). WDS allows a wireless network to be expanded using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them, as is traditionally required.

WDS allows you to build wireless infrastructure completely because the network equipment no longer has to be connected to a wired LAN. The WDS features you can create large wireless networks by linking several wireless APs with WDS links. WDS is normally used in large, open areas where pulling wires is cost prohibitive, restricted or physically impossible.

Wireless N

Best wireless access point should be powered by new wireless technology standards – the wireless 802.11n. 802.11n standard is the latest and fastest wireless technology available in the market today. With the wireless N and MIMO technology, the AP device provides the speeds of up to 300 Mbps or faster and longer distance coverage.

When you use high-intensive bandwidth applications such as High Definition Video streaming and voice, you should also consider the dual-band version of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.

Advanced Security Features

The best wireless access points should support advanced security features including latest industrial wireless security Wireless Protected Access (WPA/WPA2), MAC filter and SSID Broadcast Control. For deployment in the corporate networks, the AP should support advanced wireless protection (EAP-MD5, EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS, and PEAP), and also support RADIUS authentication. And for easiness of the wireless security connection, the AP should also support the Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) for effortless installation.