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I read about WLAN devices and Access points in "CCNA Routing and Switching guide" but still I am not able to figure out the difference between them. Both seems same to me, both are used to connect wireless devices to wired network. The definitions are like this:

WLAN devices: These devices connect wireless devices such as computers, printers, and tablets to the network. Since pretty much every device manufactured today has a wireless NIC, you just need to configure a basic access point(AP) to connect to a traditional wired network.

Access Point: These devices allow wireless devices to connect to a wireless network and extend a collision domain from a switch, and are typically in their own broadcast domain or what we'll refer to as Virtual LAN(VLAN). An AP can be a simple standalone device, but today they are usually managed by wireless controllers either in house or through internet.

And one more question, what is the difference between WLAN devices and WLAN controllers?

I will be glad if somebody can clear things up.

  • Without context, yes they are the same, except for specific devices like Wireless Lan Controllers. Could you quote some sentences so we can figure out? – JFL Feb 26 '18 at 12:24
  • @JFL question edited. – Shashank Barthwal Feb 26 '18 at 12:34
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WLAN devices: These devices connect wireless devices such as computers, printers, and tablets to the network. Since pretty much every device manufactured today has a wireless NIC, you just need to configure a basic access point(AP) to connect to a traditional wired network.

Wireless devices are basically the radio interfaces that allow a device to connect to another device wirelessly. WLAN devices more specifically would be a wireless device that connects a device to a network (i.e. the wireless NIC). These devices are built into all the examples (computers, printers, tablest) given in the definition plus many more.

Access Point: These devices allow wireless devices to connect to a wireless network and extend a collision domain from a switch, and are typically in their own broadcast domain or what we'll refer to as Virtual LAN(VLAN). An AP can be a simple standalone device, but today they are usually managed by wireless controllers either in house or through internet.

Since an AP has one or more radio interfaces, it is also a WLAN/wireless device. However, it's function is typically to provide a place for other WLAN devices to connect to get access to the network.

And one more question, what is the difference between WLAN devices and WLAN controllers?

WLAN controllers (or more commonly WLCs) are platforms for central operation of a wireless network. They are not wireless devices themselves as they do not generally connect to devices wirelessly (the exception would be systems that use the APs as a distributed conroller, but that is merely additional functionality placed on the AP, not a direct function of the AP itself).

WLCs allow for central configuration management, monitoring and reporting. They also provide coordination between the APs on a wireless network and for client devices connected to the wireless network. They can provide many functions including dynamic channel/power settings for APs, roaming, authentication, captive portals, or any number of other features.

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WLAN stands for Wireless LAN. so you need some hardware to generate the wireless signal. here comes AP. these APs will generate wireless signals and devices can connect to that signal(access point for devices). some devices will come with AP module inbuilt, for others you can integrate separate AP.

what if you have more APs in your network, better you need to have a controller, offload most of the common configurations such as policy to a central controller. which will be easy for management and troubleshooting.

  • Oh, so WLAN controller is used to configure and manage AP. Got it! Is AP a WLAN device? – Shashank Barthwal Feb 26 '18 at 12:46
  • we can say that AP is a device used in WLAN environment for connecting users, transmitting/receiving data form/to users. so , yes, AP is a WLAN device. – abdul_razak Feb 26 '18 at 13:35
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WLAN devices and APs are the the same.

  • Do you mean AP comes under WLAN devices? – Shashank Barthwal Feb 26 '18 at 12:36
  • 802.11 APs are all WLAN devices, but not all WLAN devices are APs. – YLearn Feb 27 '18 at 7:14

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