Access Point vs. Wireless Bridge


Wireless Bridge and Access Points offer radio link connectivity over a computer network, but they are structurally and functionally designed to serve slightly different purposes. Setting up a vast wireless network for a corporate office space requires the installation of many network devices that can facilitate connectivity over the entire network. Two such devices are Wireless Bridges and Wireless Access Points. Since both have overlapping areas of functionality, there seems to be confusion regarding how they differ from each other.

Wireless Bridges

A computer network tends to be divided into various segments that need to be integrated together. A network bridge connects such divided network segments together, facilitating data sharing. Before Wi-FI technology, network bridges were connected through Ethernet cables.

These are intelligent devices compared to hubs and repeaters that control data flow from connected network segments. A wireless bridge performs the same function of linking network segments, but it does so through a wireless connection, instead of a wired Ethernet link. It can connect two networks together with a radio link, to facilitate connectivity and data transfer between them.

Wireless Access Points

Wireless access points primarily provide Internet access by connecting wireless devices with routers. They act as extenders of a Wi-Fi network, by directly providing internet access over long distances. Popularly known as Wireless Hotspots, they are some of the most widely used networking instruments. A wireless access point Internet and LAN connectivity to multiple devices simultaneously.

Some wireless access points provide the functionality of a wireless bridge, by providing connectivity between two wireless networks. Modem access points can connect more than 200 wireless devices simultaneously. Some wireless access points are in fact wireless routers which directly provide Internet access, through connection with a modem.

The central point of difference between the two devices lies in their functionality. While wireless bridges are designed to integrate two physically separated networks through a radio link, an access point connects multiple wireless devices with a router. So, a wireless bridge connects two computer clusters together and a wireless bridge connects multiple devices with a single Internet connection simultaneously. A bridge can also be used to connect an existing Ethernet network with an access point.

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