A wireless router; the wireless part of it, is that a layer 2 or layer 3 device? I have heard that a WiFi router is just a wired router with a built-in wireless AP, and since a wireless AP functions as a hub or switch, then there is no added benefit other than simplicity for buying a WiFi router vs buying a wired router + a wireless AP?

Also, I have heard that wireless APs functions like a hub and a switch at the same time. I am really confused. How does a wireless AP work compare to switches, hubs, and routers?

1 Answer 1


A WAP is like a hub on the wireless side, and a translating bridge (a switch is a transparent bridge) between the wireless and wired side.

Routers route packets (stripping off the frames and building new frames) between networks. Bridges bridge frames on the same network.

What most people call wireless routers are consumer-grade devices (off-topic here) that are Frankenstein boxes and have multiple devices in the same chassis.

  • Thx this helped, I am overall very confused. I am taking a CCNA course now and everything is its own piece. AP, switch, router, etc. Also, I have realized that the cisco routers can have one IP address for each LAN port. I checked my home router today (tp-link archer C9) and you can only set one IP and subnet for the whole LAN, all ports and 2.4GHz and 5GHz included. Does this mean that that router is basically a switch for wifi+lan ports and the router part is only one port, whole LAN to ISP?
    – J. Doe
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 9:34
  • Well, consumer-grade routers are off-topic here, but they usually have two router interfaces with one being internal and connecting to a bridge (switch) that connects to a WAP. Each router interface must have an address in its own network because routers route packets between networks, so your router will have two addresses (WAN and LAN) because it has two interfaces. Really, do not try too hard to relate CCNA to consumer-grade devices. You can mess up your thinking and end up not passing the test.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 15:55

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