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I have a WAP connected to a switch via a twisted pair cable. Aside from the communication medium to other nodes (electrical signal vs radio waves), do they operate the same way? Specifically:

  1. When wireless devices communicate with each other, does the WAP have a MAC table and do the packet forwarding itself? In other words, do the data packets travel back and forth to the switch, which reduce the bandwidth to half of the wire's max link speed?
  2. When the WAP sends data packets, does it send unicast to a specific device (like a switch) or broadcast to all devices (like a hub), which also reduces total bandwidth?

As of now, I still think of access points as some sort of "wireless switch".

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When wireless devices communicate with each other, does the WAP have a MAC table and do the packet forwarding itself? In other words, do the data packets travel back and forth to the switch, which reduce the bandwidth to half of the wire's max link speed?

The basic function of both switch and WAP is MAC-based bridging, ie. forwarding based on the destination MAC address. At the same time they learn each source MAC address to find out where everyone is located.

When the WAP sends data packets, does it send unicast to a specific device (like a switch) or broadcast to all devices (like a hub), which also reduces total bandwidth?

Since the WAP works on a shared medium (air), the only difference between unicast and broadcast is the destination address. All devices connected to a WAP share total bandwidth, similar to a repeater hub.

Note that a switch controls many media (ports) and can use them simultaneously.

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