Definition: Wireless access points (APs or WAPs) are specially configured nodes on wireless local area networks (WLANs). Access points act as a central transmitter and receiver of WLAN radio signals.
Access points used in home or small business networks are generally small, dedicated hardware devices featuring a built-in network adapter, antenna, and radio transmitter. Access points support Wi-Fi wireless communication standards. Although very small WLANs can function without access points in so-called “ad hoc” or peer-to-peer mode, access points support “infrastructure” mode. This mode bridges WLANs with a wired Ethernet LAN and also scales the network to support more clients. Older and base model access points allowed a maximum of only 10 or 20 clients; many newer access points support up to 255 clients.