A network access point, or NAP, is a location where an Internet service provider (ISP) drops its lines and creates a peering arrangement in order to offer consumers internet connectivity.
But how did NAP come into being and develop? How does it affect businesses? Why should businesses concern themselves about NAP? Let’s discuss each point as we understand NAPs better.
History of NAP
NAPs were the first Internet exchange points and were a crucial part of Al Gore’s National Information Infrastructure (NII) strategy, which characterized the shift from the NSFNET era—funded by the U.S. government—to the commercial internet of today.
The four Network Access Points developed by the National Science Foundation in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco were intended to replace the publicly funded NSFNET Internet backbone as temporary data communications hubs for Network Service Providers (NSPs) to exchange traffic.
The National Science Foundation also awarded contracts to MFS Datanet, Sprint, Ameritech, and Pacific Bell for new facilities with varied designs and technology in New York (actually Pennsauken, New Jersey), Chicago, and California, respectively. These contracts supported the four NAPs.
These networks served as an effective transitional strategy, building a link between the early internet, which was a government-funded academic experiment, and the modern internet, which is made up of numerous private-sector competitors working together to form a network of networks and transporting Internet bandwidth from its points of production at Internet Exchange Points to its sites of consumption at users’ locations.
Ever since, the four transitional NAPs have been long gone and replaced by hundreds of contemporary Internet Exchange Points. The term ‘Network Access Point’ is now only of historical interest. However, in Spanish-speaking Latin America, the phrase still exists to some extent among those who confuse NAPs with IXPs.
A WLAN, also known as a wireless local area network, is created by an access point, which is often located in an office or big building. A Wi-fi signal is transmitted from an access point to a predetermined area after it has established an ethernet cable connection with a wired router, switch, or hub.
Now, if you wish to allow Wi-fi connectivity at your company’s reception area but don’t have a router within range, an access point can be installed close to the front desk and an ethernet cable can be extended through the ceiling back to the server room.
Thus, network access point is a highly viable solution that telecom companies have discovered to enable their customers to connect successfully and expand their reach without sacrificing the quality of their internet connection.
But how does NAP affect businesses and organizations?
Having a NAP site improves the connectivity with your data centers and expands the diversity and performance of your connections.
Alternatively, a range extender is excellent to manage Wi-fi networks smoothly in homes, but they are ineffective for modern enterprises. This is due to the fact that they can only accommodate a certain number of devices at once, typically no more than 20. Range extenders do broaden a Wi-fi router’s reach, but they do not improve the amount of bandwidth it can provide. A range extender could cause your connection to slow down depending on how many devices are connected at once.
On the other hand, access points are capable of supporting more than 60 connections at once. Users can move freely between rooms in the office thanks to the installation of access points, which prevent network interruptions.
Their gadgets will transition from one access point to the next without losing connectivity as they travel throughout the facility; they won’t even be aware that they are changing networks.
In terms of office structures, SD WANs are also highly efficient and use software-defined network technology to communicate. While majorly chosen for internal organizational structures, SD WANs use overlay tunnels to send encrypted messages to and fro.
Characteristics of Network Access Points:
Any business whose plans call for:
- Expanding regionally and internationally;
- Implementing vertical IT environment growth;
- Implementing hybrid environments, multi-cloud environments; and
- Connecting their environments with numerous partners, suppliers, or service providers;
must be a member of a NAP (Network Access Point).
NAP can easily and rapidly meet such businesses’ connectivity and growth goals at that access point, hence, making it a perfect solution for them. It also offers a great deal of flexibility to adjust to each company’s plan because it is a point with several connecting possibilities.
With this in mind, for example, businesses that initially required to connect with North America but later changed their approach to begin conducting business with Europe can simply obtain connections within the NAP to connect to carriers that cover this region.
Benefits of NAP
Twenty devices on a wireless network can easily add up rapidly when both staff and visitors are using various devices like desktops, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets to connect. However, access points provide you with the flexibility to expand the number of devices supported on your network with each offering 60 simultaneous connections. But that is not the only benefit of using these network boosters, when you take into account the following:
- Anywhere you can run an ethernet wire, you can install a business-grade access point. There is no need to run an additional power line or place an outlet close to the access point because more recent models are also Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) compliant (a combination of ethernet and power wire).
- You can restrict guest access without jeopardizing network security with the help of additional common features like Captive Portal and Access Control List (ACL) support, which also makes it simple to manage Wifi networks.
- An IT administrator can observe, implement, secure and manage Wifi networks as a single entity rather than a collection of various access point configurations from a single point thanks to the clustering capability found on some access points.