I understand what the intent of wireless access points are but I am struggling to understand them fully on a deeper level. So, do wireless access points have their own network with their own IP addresses/SSID's that you need to connect to in order for it to communicate with the main network, or do they just simply show up as a discoverable network device that connects to the main router/main internet?

For example, if my default gateway of my main home network were, could the wireless access point show up as something like and it would use the to go to the internet?, or is it hopping over another unique network with different IPs?

Thank you for your time.

  • 1
    Wireless access point is Layer 2 functionality. Whatever ip processing (Layer 3) it is also capable of doing is not specific for the Wireless access part and depends on the exact device. So, generally speaking, every option is possible. Depending on your setup some may not result in working network.
    – Effie
    Oct 17 '21 at 6:18
  • I do not understand
    – Cole
    Oct 17 '21 at 6:23
  • it depends on what your particular gateway and your particular access point do and how they are connected. Also, this is a question about home networking, and it is better suited for superuser.com or serverfault.com (not sure which one)
    – Effie
    Oct 17 '21 at 6:29
  • My mistake I guess I was trying to find out how wireless bridging works. I forgot to add that in the main question
    – Cole
    Oct 17 '21 at 6:33
  • if it is a bridge, it technically does not have to have IP at all, it can just forward layer 2 frames based on mac addresses to your gateway, or whatever is between gateway and access point.
    – Effie
    Oct 17 '21 at 6:36

Basically, a WAP is a network bridge. It forwards between wired Ethernet and wireless 802.11 based on each frame's destination MAC address. It uses an IP address for management only.

Some "WAPs" may actually be routers, creating a distinctive IP subnet behind them. Strictly speaking, that isn't a WAP any more. Note that home networks are explicitly off-topic here.

In on-topic networks, you usually separate your wireless network from the wired one by IP subnet, but you do so using a VLAN with appropriate SSID association and you don't route between those on the WAP but on a separate firewall/router. The WAP bridges between a wireless SSID-based network and a wired VLAN that connects to the router.

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