1.1 Definition

In computer networking, a wireless access point (AP) is a device that allows wireless devices to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi, or related standards. The AP usually connects to a router (via a wired network) as a standalone device, but it can also be an integral component of the router itself. An AP is differentiated from a hotspot, which is the physical space where the wireless service is provided.

An AP normally connects directly to a wired Ethernet connection and provides wireless connections using radio frequency links for other devices to utilize that wired connection. Most APs support the connection of multiple wireless devices to one wired connection. Modern APs are built to support a standard for sending and receiving data using these radio frequencies. Those standards, and the frequencies they use are defined by the IEEE. Most APs use IEEE 802.11 standards.


1.2 Common AP applications

1.2.1 A hotspot is a common public application of APs, where wireless clients can connect to the Internet without regard for the particular networks to which they have attached for the moment.

1.2.2 APs are commonly used in home wireless networks.

1.2.3 An AP may also act as the network's arbitrator, negotiating when each nearby client device can transmit.