General Question

MamboCube's avatar

What's the difference between a router and a wireless access point?

Asked by MamboCube (34points) November 21st, 2008

I’m in student accommodation and currently connect my imac to the internet via an ethernet port in the wall. I’ve just purchased a new Macbook and would like to connect to the internet wirelessly.

I’ve been told that I am not allowed to connect a router to do this, but should purchase a wireless access point.

What’s the difference?

I’m thinking of buying the apple time capsule as i need an external hard drive and the wireless printing etc makes it ideal.

Apple support tell me that it has routing features, am I able to ‘turn these off’?

Hope you can help!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

6 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I would try this first. If you plan on keeping your iMac you can turn on Internet sharing. It will use the Airport card in the iMac to broadcast a signal that your Macbook will be able to pick up. I do this so I can use my iPod Touch in the yard.

Apple Menu—> System Preferences—> Sharing—> Internet Sharing
It should look like this

Keep in mind that your iMac would need to be turned on while you use your Macbook to do this. But it is free and should work.

And to answer your actual question. There isn’t a difference between the two. A wireless access point is a router that does WIFI. You just need a wireless router. The person who told you that probably didn’t know what they were talking about.

So, you basically would need to plug the ethernet cable that runs into your iMac into the wireless router. And from there both your iMac and Macbook should be able to see the wireless network. Assuming your iMac was made in the last four years.

Spargett's avatar

It sounds like the school doesn’t want you setting up wireless networks off their network, which I assume requires the user to login, etc.

Hypotetically, you could plug-in a wireless router and circumvent the entire login process for others. It’s a control thing.

I don’t see why plugging in a wireless router or using your iMac wouldn’t work.

richardhenry's avatar

Plug in the wireless router. You can turn off the ‘broadcast name’ or ‘broadcast SSID’ in your settings so that it’s effectively invisible to anyone who wants to check, and then click on the wireless icon on your menubar and use Join Other Network….

Type in the name, and you’re good to go.

Response moderated
MamboCube's avatar

thanks for the answers guys!

@johnpowel: I’ve already tried this, it’s a good method, but would prefer to set up the network with an access point so I can use my MacBook when my iMac isn’t on. The time capsule also appeals to me with the external hard drive and wireless printing features. The actual internet providers website states that you can use an access point, but not a router, and if they find me using one will remove my internet account :S

it looks like i should be fine with the time capsule. Thanks for your answers.

Scazrelet's avatar

Well, a wireless access point plugs into a router. Routers are designed to split one incoming internet line for use by multiple computers. All a wireless access point does is convert one of the signals sent through the router, which would normally require a cable, to wireless, so it can be received by your laptops wireless card. The model of access point I have does not like two wireless devices using the same signal, so I am not sure how you would arrange it in your case, where they do not want you splitting the line.for multiple connections :\

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther