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Wireless Bridge vs. Access Point ?

In common wireless usage, a "bridge" is a device which allows for a a wireless connection between two physically-isolated wired networks. A wireless LAN bridge can interface an Ethernet network directly to a particular access point. This may be necessary if you have a few devices, possibly in a far reaching part of the facility, that are interconnected via Ethernet. A wireless LAN bridge plugs into this Ethernet network and uses the 802.11 protocol to communicate with an access point that's within range. In this manner, a bridge enables you to wirelessly connect a cluster of users (actually a network) to an access point. Most wireless game adapters are transparent bridges as well.

Access points connect multiple wireless clients to each other and to a wired network. A non-bridging access point will allow association of wireless users, but will generally not allow you to connect to a remote wired network, or to another wireless access point (since they lack a common transparent bridging protocol to replicate the MAC to port table on both ends). Note that there are some access points that can operate in wireless bridge mode as well.

Some access points can also do WDS (wireless distribution system) which can connect to other access points at the same time as client radios. WDS is effectively a store and forward repeater between access points.


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