What is the Difference between Wireless Access Points, Routers, Hubs and Switches?

Wireless Access Points, Routers, Hubs and Switches.

These technologies are used to create many different networking solutions, providing what could be an extremely reliable and robust network, or if done incorrectly, can be a thorn in your side for years to come. Physically they can appear the same, sometimes on paper they can be all in the exact same device. But don’t be fooled, those all-in-one-solutions may not be what suits your needs even though it ticks all the boxes. Picking good quality solution from the start can set you up for networking bliss.




What’s a Wireless Access Point (WAP)?

Wireless Access Points are how you connect your WiFi enabled devices to your network; think of it like providing a network cable to your phone, without the cable. It converts the wireless signals from your devices into wired signals on the network. This is one of the “user facing” aspects of the network, that impacts on your users directly if it’s not powerful enough. 

Many budget devices can only handle a small number of users (some are as low as 5), but what if every staff member has a phone, laptop, and clients visit the office and request internet access? The number of devices and required features should be how you choose your hardware. WAPs also provide the security layer over the wireless connected devices, which is ever so important so people outside your office don’t steal your bandwidth and slow down your internet.

You can even combine multiple access points to provide access to more devices, eliminate “dead zones” in your office, and seamlessly travel around the office and not lose connection. Make sure you have a powerful WAP Controller to ensure a fast and reliable network for your business. 


What is a Router?

Routers are the opposite end of the network to Wireless Access Points, they provide internet access to all of the connected networks. It will take all of the network traffic in your network and determine where it should be sent, whether it be the internet or to your file/print server. Remote access to your network is also typically provided by a router. Some routers support DSL, others support NBN or Cable, so you need to make sure you select one that fits your internet connection. Many people suffer slower internet than they pay for because they get the wrong kind of router. 

Typically routers have the ability to implement basic security via a firewall, and can also lock down what the users on your network can access. Ever wanted to block Facebook from your network? A good router is a great place to start.


What is a Switch or Hub?

These two devices provide the same function on a network, connecting all the devices together - although nobody has used hubs for a long time now. The two devices use different ways to deliver network traffic. A hub sends the traffic to all connected computers in the hopes that one of the computers is the right one. A switch on the other hand has a list of what is connected and sends the traffic to the right place. 

Think of it like this; a postman is trying to deliver some mail, with a hub there is no street names or numbers, so he has to deliver it to every house, even after he has found the right one he has to keep going until all of them have been processed. A switch on the other hand, there are street names and numbers so the postman can find the address easily and deliver it once. 

Hubs, due to broadcasting all traffic on all ports, are inherently insecure and your traffic can be snooped by anyone connected to it. Hubs are also limited in speed as they broadcast all traffic, and the available speed is shared between every port. Whereas a switch can provide dedicated bandwidth per port, so you can get full speed on every port.



We know what they are now, what do we do with them?

Now lets bring this all together, the WAPs provide you with wireless connection to the network, the switches connects all of your devices together, and the router provides the network with some intelligence and also the internet connection. 

Now to combine all of the technologies we have already mentioned, Switches glue WAPs and Routers together, to form a complete network. You can easily find a device that provides all 3 of these, but they don’t perform as well, can’t handle as many users, and not to mention if there is an issue with an all-in-one device, it affects everything. 

Quality hardware can last years, save you time and money, and give you a much better experience overall. To top it off, a reliable wireless solution brings many more benefits, as well as can grow and change with your business over time.


Let us assist your business with state-of-the-art wireless solution right now! 


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