What Is a Point-to-Point Wireless Network?
A point-to-point (P2P or PTP) wireless network is among the simplest types of networks available in telecommunications. By bridging two access points together, a P2P wireless network can securely transmit data between two devices. Due to its reliability, a P2P wireless connection can be used to securely create an online network throughout multiple worksites several miles apart. [See reviews on the best internet service providers by visiting our best picks page.]
You know how your phone can transfer your contact info to another device by Bluetooth? P2P wireless is kind of like that, just on a larger, more sophisticated scale. Rather than two phones being connected, a P2P wireless connection creates a bridge between two secure access points that have a clear line of sight. Once a P2P connection is established, you can connect your systems and create a secure network for your entire business.
Advancements in P2P wireless technology has led to cost-effective, highly secure networks that offer both the speed and flexibility a network needs to grow with your business. Let’s take a look at how it works.
How does point-to-point internet work?
A P2P wireless connection operates through a dedicated device in a network called a “point” to send data to an endpoint over the air through radio waves. There are other configurations that allow a point-to-multipoint wireless connection, which transmits data to multiple endpoints simultaneously, or by laser rather than radio, but the utility is the same. A business will usually choose a P2P network because of the prohibitive cost and logistics of setting up a hardwire connection.
The different points that a P2P wireless network uses could be a repeater hub, a microwave relay, or a parabolic dish to transmit data, but one thing is consistent: You need a clear line of sight between your access points. Just like with your radio station, a P2P wireless access point sends data out in 3D radio waves. But instead of the garbled audio you’d find in a bad radio signal, you get a slower network with the potential to lose data.
The range of a P2P wireless network could be anywhere from 100 feet to 7 miles, depending on the device. Different frequencies give you different ranges and speeds to work with. For example, a P2P bridge running at a 2.4GHz frequency can deliver transfer speeds of 170 Mbps, at a range of up to 9 miles. On the other hand, P2P laser connection can provide blazing speeds topping out at 10 Gbps, but it has a range of only 350 meters.
Because a P2P connection can simultaneously travel both ways, the speed and range with which you configure your network will directly impact performance. If you have a complex surveillance system taking up all of your bandwidth on a low-speed connection, the network will become unstable and slow for the rest of your team. You need to consider these kinds of bandwidth bandits before you build your network.
Naturally, most of today’s P2P access points can accommodate Wi-Fi protocols like 802.11ac and 802.11, so your business can expect a similar performance level to a standard Wi-Fi network. Better yet, these P2P access point devices come with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) security as an extra precaution to keep prying eyes out and your data safe.
What is bridging in Wi-Fi?
A wireless bridge is simply the way you connect two P2P devices. It’s also another way to avoid installation headaches when setting up your Wi-Fi network because it gives specific devices remote access. Just like your home Wi-Fi router, a Wi-Fi bridge connects an access point to a network, giving access to a client device. Because a bridge doesn’t need a direct line of sight, the device’s location doesn’t really matter as long as it’s in range of the signal.
There are a few types of wireless bridging, each with its strengths and drawbacks. With a Wi-Fi-to-Ethernet bridge, you can connect clients to an Ethernet network wirelessly, but it’s mainly meant for older devices without Wi-Fi, so we don’t see it too often anymore. A Wi-Fi-to-Wi-Fi bridge is one of the more common types of connections, used to increase the range of a wireless hotspot. A Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi bridge offers a way to connect Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as cell phones, to a wireless network.
The benefits of P2P wireless networks
A point-to-point wireless network can offer your business a reliable high-speed, low-latency connection without crushing your budget. For a company with multiple worksites, a P2P wireless network can keep every location connected 24/7 to provide a stable, secure signal. P2P wireless networks also eliminate the construction and costs necessary to create a physical network, so you can redirect resources to where you need them most.
As a bonus, a P2P wireless network can create a secure local area network (LAN) from the beginning, so you don’t need virtual private network (VPN) software for added protection. Also, even though bandwidth is shared across an entire network, most high-speed P2P networks provide plenty of transfer speed to deliver a solid connection for each worksite.
Most importantly, the beauty of a P2P wireless network lies in its simplicity. Because the infrastructure requires so little to set up, it’s easy to maintain, so you can always have the latest features and updates that create a stable, safe network.