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What is the difference between wired and wireless access points?

What is the difference between wired and wireless access points? Also what are the pros and cons?
An access point is a connection that ties network services together. The most basic of wired access points is a hub. Hubs connect networked computers, printers, and devices together. Hubs provide a common point of connection for these various devices to communicate. Their downfall is that each device must wait its turn to communicate. Otherwise, there are collisions. This reduces throughput. Hubs have largely been replaced by switches. Both hubs and switches are based on the IEEE 802.3 standard.

Wireless access points connect wired and wireless devices. Currently, the most common wireless access points are based on the 802.11b protocol. This provides a maximum theoretical throughput of 11 Mbps. However, because of overhead, interference, and encryption is usually far less. Speeds of 6 to 8 Mbps are considered excellent.

The primary advantages of wired networks are that of speed and security. Wireless networks are considered less secure, as you data is being blasted onto the open airways, but wireless networks are easier to setup. Who enjoys running CAT5 cables through walls or across floors to make a network connection?

This was last published in May 2003

Dig Deeper on Wireless LAN (WLAN)