access point definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Mapping your wireless local area network: How to make your WLAN shine

In a wireless local area network (WLAN), an access point is a station that transmits and receives data (sometimes referred to as a transceiver). An access point connects users to other users within the network and also can serve as the point of interconnection between the WLAN and a fixed wire network. Each access point can serve multiple users within a defined network area; as people move beyond the range of one access point, they are automatically handed over to the next one. A small WLAN may only require a single access point; the number required increases as a function of the number of network users and the physical size of the network.

This was first published in March 2010

Next Steps

Learn how to protect WLAN access points with the right WIPS system.

In this Buying Decisions series, learn how to buy locally managed WLAN products and cloud-controlled wireless LAN products, how to make the business case for cloud-managed WLAN, and how to determine which cloud-controlled WLAN products are the best for you.

Cisco's wireless LAN controllers are used by a variety of enterprises and organizations. Learn more about Cisco wireless LAN controllers in this product overview series. Other products reviewed include: Aerohive's HiveManager, Cisco's Aironet, Aruba wireless controllers and access points, Meraki wireless access points and Ruckus Zone AP products.


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