The wireless access point is the WLAN world's equivalent of the hub: it distributes network access to any wireless network adapters in range. A WLAN network centered around an access point is in infrastructure mode, where all traffic passes through the access point, as opposed to ad-hoc mode, in which WLAN adapters talk directly to each other. The typical access point supports no less than 255 simultaneous wireless devices at a range of 30-300 meters (depending on conditions) and has at least one RJ-45 Ethernet connection for wired networks. Some wireless access points, like D-Link's fantabulous DI-713P, also throw in freebies like a DHCP server, firewall, a 3-port 100 MBps hub and a printer port, all managed through a built-in Web server.

The abbreviation AP is occasionally used, but the logical alternative WAP is almost never seen (at least in Europe) due to the potential for confusion with the Wireless Application Protocol found on mobile phones.