By Ki Grinsing
Wireless Access Point Vs Wireless Router, what is the different? Some people make mistake in buying the correct wireless device for building the wireless network in home. They frequently make mistake by purchasing the wireless access point instead of the wireless router to share the internet connection in home. You cannot share the internet by connecting the wireless access point to the modem-only. Why?
The main difference between the Wireless Access Point Vs Wireless Router is on the NAT feature (besides many security features the routers have). Typically the wireless access points do not have the NAT or firewall feature, but the wireless routers do.
What is NAT?
In understanding the Wireless Access Point Vs Wireless Router, you should understand how NAT works. Network Address Translation (NAT) is a feature that must exist on all types of routers. NAT is the primary method to translate the unregistered IP addresses behind the firewall to a single (or more) registered IP address to access the internet. NAT functions as an intermediary between a client computer on an unregistered network (private network) and the Internet.
The figure 1 shows a conceptual diagram how the computers with the unregistered IP address behind the firewall (in your internal network) access the internet via firewall. The outside interface of the firewall must use the registered IP address. Generally the registered IP address can be obtained from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Unregistered Vs Registered IP
Unregistered IP addresses are typically the private IP addresses which cannot be routed to the internet. The registered IP addresses are the public IP addresses that are used for Internet communication. So when you design your internal or private network (network behind the firewall) you must use the private IP addresses instead of using the public IP addresses. On the other hand, you must use the public IP addresses on the interface of the firewall that faces the internet.
All the computers that share the same internet connection behind the firewall will use a single public IP address to communicate with other computers in the wild internet. And other computers on the internet will only be able to reach you via a single public address on the external interface of the firewall. See more detail about IP NAT here.
Private IP address
The table below shows the range of the private IP addresses you can use for your internal networks (the network behind the firewall / router).
|Class Type||Start Address||End Address|
Mostly all the wireless routers configure their default IP addressees using Class C private IP addresses. The following table shows some of the wireless routers with their default IP addresses that use Class C private addresses.
The wireless routers have the firewall (NAT) function to translate many computers behind the router to a single registered IP address to enable the internet communication. While the wireless access points do not have the NAT function, so they cannot share a single registered IP address from the ISP with many computers behind the access points (when the Access point is connected direct to the modem).
Identify native modem or gateway
Before you purchase either the wireless router or the wireless access point, you should examine if your existing modem is a native modem (which does not have the firewall function or NAT feature) such as DOCSIS 3.0 SB6120 /6121 Cable modem or a compact modem with the router / firewall function.
If you setup the wireless access point by connecting it to the modem, expecting to share the internet connection with many computers, there will be only one computer that can connect the internet.