A wireless access point (WAP) is a central device that broadcasts a WiFi signal for WiFi clients to connect to. Generally, each wireless network, like those you see popping up on your phone’s screen as you walk around a neighborhood, belongs to one wireless access point. A WiFi client or WLAN client is a device that can detect the signal broadcast by a wireless access point, connect to it and maintain the connection. Today’s laptops, smartphones and tablets come with built-in WiFi capability.
Typically, a good WiFi network is most viable within about 150 feet from the access point. This distance, however, changes based on the power of the devices involved, the environment and (most importantly) the WiFi standard. The WiFi standard also determines how fast a wireless connection can be and is the reason WiFi gets complicated and confusing, especially when considering the fact there are multiple WiFi frequency bands.
When it comes to networking, you probably don’t want to run network cables all over your house, making WiFi a great alternative. Unfortunately there are some places, such as the guest house or backyard, that a WiFi signal won’t reach. Because it’s too far away or because there are thick concrete walls in between them. In this case, the best solution is adding wireless access points.
Unfortunately, the typical ISP’s simplistic model of providing a single “all-in-one” modem+router+wireless gateway for your home quickly breaks down when faced with the real-world challenges of serving larger homes. By far the best way to get high-performance networking throughout a larger home is to deploy wireless access points throughout.