WiFi access points are now a regular feature of any professional network. Although at first you may think that they only provide connectivity, their functionalities go far beyond that, which has driven their adoption in many scenarios. Why are they so necessary today and how do they differ from other connection devices, such as routers? Read on and you will get the answers.
What is a WiFi access point and what is it used for?
A WiFi access point is a device in a wireless network that generates the wireless network and allows a user to access it. In order to do this, the access point is connected to the router via an Ethernet network cable. An important nuance, since if it were connected via WiFi, it would not be an access point, but simply a signal repeater.
WiFi access points can serve a variety of functions beyond providing a connection path to the Internet. They can extend network coverage, with special attention to dead zones and where the power of WiFi networks is not as strong as desired. They are therefore particularly useful in large areas, such as workplaces, factories, shopping malls, stadiums, theaters, hotels, etc.
Advantages of having WiFi access points
There are many reasons that can lead to have a set of WiFi access points for a given project. Here are the most common benefits that will make you opt for them:
- They enable the essential connection of WiFi devices of all types, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, IoT sensors, etc.
- Their radius of action makes them the perfect alternative to provide connection in complexes formed by different buildings close to each other.
- Scalability: allows a large number of users to connect simultaneously to the same network without impairing the browsing experience.
- Decongest the network in situations of high demand.
- There will be no interruptions in the connection when a user, while moving, causes the access point to which he is connected to be changed.
- Some support Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) technology, which enables the access points to be electrically powered over the Ethernet cable, thus saving on additional cabling.
- They can collect, process and provide contextual information from the environment, opening the door to automation of radio resources and other added benefits that we will discuss later.
- They reinforce network security, as they can include functionalities such as a captive portal and access control lists that only allow access to authorized users.
Is an access point the same as a router?
To better understand the differences between an access point and a router, we must first explain what exactly a router is. We have previously mentioned that access points connect to the router, but… what is the function or functions of the router?
The router is the network device that provides Internet access to all the devices connected to it, thus distributing the information among them and generating what is known as a local area network or LAN (Local Area Network). But, in addition to making Internet connection possible, routers can also establish the connection between different networks. These are known as distribution routers.
Therefore, we can simplify by saying that the router is responsible for connecting the local area network to the Internet, while the access points make it possible to access this network in areas where the router’s own coverage does not reach or is not sufficient, in addition to the other benefits we have just mentioned.
Finally, we must also point out that all routers can act as access points, however, not all access points can offer the functions of a router.
Smart WiFi access points, what do they offer?
When we listed the main advantages of having WiFi access points in a network infrastructure, we mentioned aspects such as environmental data collection and resource automation. Well, it is now time to go more deeply into these features, which in many cases are the differentiating factor that makes the balance in favor of acquiring this hardware.
Intelligent WiFi access points, such as those offered by Galgus, are continuously gathering information about their environment, the use made of the network and the status of its resources and key variables. What does this achieve?
Advanced and automated resource management
On the one hand, it gives us full knowledge of the network’s performance, allowing us to manage its resources with a high response capacity in the event of any contingency.
But we can go one step further, and that is that smart WiFi access points share this data with the other access points, encouraging collaboration between them so that the use of radio resources can be automated and thus enjoy the most efficient operation possible.
In addition to all this, smart access points make it possible to anonymously geolocate and track people in their area of influence, whether or not they are connected to the network. This makes it possible to learn about their behavioral habits, their capacity and much more information that can be represented, for example, in heat maps.
This Location Analytics feature is really useful in countless situations. For retail managers, they can get to know their customers better than ever and offer them services and products that meet their requirements; for municipal managers, they can design a tourism strategy according to what their visitors really demand. And so on with a multitude of industries.
Galgus access points are the only ones that fulfill this function with data reliability. In fact, WiFi location itself is not entirely reliable due to unconnected devices and their random MAC addresses. Only Galgus access points are able to reverse this problem and provide a reliable location.
Nowadays, an advanced WiFi network cannot be understood without its corresponding access points. As we have just seen, there are many ways in which they contribute to optimize the management of the network and of a particular business or project.
If you think it’s time to get your hands on them, Galgus has a wide range of high-end WiFi hotspots powered by our patented CHT (Cognitive Hotspot Technology), which opens the door to all the advanced features we’ve discussed.
Do you want to know more about them and solve all your doubts? We are ready to discuss with you in detail. Shall we start now?